2013 Millau Bouldering World Cup – Finals

UPDATED. Out of 108 climbers that competed in Millau, the top 12 secured a place in the final round. They’d already faced 9 hard problems and had 4 more ahead. 4 more challenges to decide the winners. This is what happened.

The line-up
The semifinal round was hard. Not as hard as it always is. Harder. Many top climbers did just one problem, many did none. Marc Daviet, chief route setter, used tiny crimps and shoulder-breaking mantles to remind everyone that making finals is never granted, regardless of how many gold medals you’ve won in the past or how long your campus sessions may be.

The 12 climbers that made it through were: Dmitrii Sharafutdinov, Alex Puccio, Jorg Verhoeven, Shauna Coxsey, Rustam Gelmanov, Akiyo Noguchi, Gillaume Glairon Mondet, Juliane Wurm, Kilian Fischhuber, Katharina Saurwein, Lukas Ennemoser and Anna Stöhr.

Notice that:

  • A third of the finalists were Austrians. What a team. 6 of them participated all 6 ended up in the top 13.
  • Verhoeven made finals for the first time since 2008. And he got a medal. He looked strong, calmed and in control throughout the comp.
  • Stöhr made finals after sending just one problem. She usually does pretty well when she goes into finals in last position (this time was no exception).
  • Glairon Mondet climbed from 18th position to 4th during the semifinals.

Problem 1
The venue at Millau’s Parc de la Victoire was packed when Stöhr and Ennemoser came out to to climb the first problem. For men and woman what awaited was a quite slimple and crowd-pleasing dyno followed by a couple of easy moves. Girls had a rund and jump start to good pinches while guys had to jump from crimps to crimps.

5 guys flashed the problem. Surprisingly Gelmanov wasn’t able to solve it. He tried the dyno several times and even looked for more static alternatives in which he could put his incredible finger strengh to good use. None of it worked.

For the girls the results were similar. 5 topped (though nobody flashed it) and Puccio was left behind, unable to get to the pinches. He tried time and again while getting more and more frustrated. After the comp, wearing sneakers, she tried the problem again and finally got to the top (the crowd celebrated it like it was a valid ascent).

Problem 2
If problem 1 was straight-forward the second one was quite the opposite.

Alex Puccio on WF2

Alex Puccio on WF2

For the women, it had relatively positive holds and reachy moves. It had a mantle at the beginning and a tricky jump to the top at the end. Stöhr, Noguchi, Coxsey and Puccio topped it, Wurm and Saurwein couldn’t.

The men face one of the weirdest starting positions ever. Just two volumes from which they should hang facing the crowd. They coulnd’t start any other way. “Why not?” asked Fischhuber to IFSC jury David Mora. Apparently because the setters said so. It was designed so the problem was more challenging and spectacular. In my opinion it was the wrong way to achieve that. If you want the climbers to start in a certain way you should design the problem so they have no other option (or no easier option). Only Fischhuber could send the problem. The rest struggled fruitlessly and for the most part #2 was a dull problem.

Dmitrii Sharafutdinv resting on MF2

Dmitrii Sharafutdinv resting on MF2

Problem 3
More struggle for the guys, one after the other they spend 5 minutes falling (mainly on the first move). Only Sharafutdinov was remotely close to sending. Sean McColl says he imagines that “when the route setters were fore running, it was much cooler in the gym and therefore much easier to hold on“. That was probably the case. At least the last try of the last competitor (Sharafutdinov) was the closest to a send and it was an exciting moment.

Meanwhile the girls had yet-another-mantle and yet-another-jump-to-a-good-top. Everyone but Saurwein (who couldn’t do the move after the mantle) solved it.

Problem 4
At this point Fischhuber had almost secured the gold medal but just in case he solved the last problem (only him and Gelmanov could top this one). #4 was an interesting problem, starting with nice compression moves and ending with a tenuous traverse with volumes.

The girls faced a powerful problem. Near the bottom it had a jump-to-jugs that reminded a little of problem 1 and getting to the top was another dynamic move to a jug pulling from a round screw-on. 3 girls (Stöhr, Coxsey and Puccio) solved #4. Coxsey missed the gold by just one attempt, she was painfully close to winning the comp though apparently she wasn’t aware while she was competing (according to her post about the comp). Last year in Innsbruck she also came second to Stöhr by a slim margin. For Coxsey it seems that getting a gold medal is just a matter of time (but Stöhr looks so strong that it might take a while…).

Recap
The second world cup of the season was an exciting one. A lot of turnarounds in the classification, big names being shut down and fresh faces in the finals. Hard problems, for sure. Fischhuber starts the World Cup season with gold and Stöhr continues topping podiums.

The structures were a bit small and a bit bland. Every wall was slightly overhanging. No slab, no roof, no vertical wall. But Mr.Daviet did a good job. Maybe we had a little too much of shoulder-moves (many mantles and many gastons) and sideways jumps. Some of the problems had so many holds on them that climbers had a hard time reading the sequences (and I love that :P).

Millau is over, Kitzbühel (Austria) is next. Will the Stöhr-fest continue? Will Coxsey get her first gold medal? Will Fischhuber catch-up with Sharafutdinov in the overall rank or will the Russian get another gold medal?

Can’t wait!!

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