European Bouldering Championships 2015 – Aftermath

The European Bouldering Championship has been the perfect event to illustrate why this season may be the most interesting to date. It is very hard to tell who are the favorites; the famous guys are strong, but so is everyone else.innsbruck_2015_finals-4730Had you bet on who would be making finals in Innsbruck, or on who would be making podium, you would have lost all you money. Either that or you are clairvoyant.

Truth be told, 5 finalists were in the “safe bet” side: Ondra, Hojer, Schubert, Stöhr and Wurm. But the other 8 ranked from “not-surprising-but-who-knows” (Saurwein, Markovic, Rubtsov, Gibert, Retschy) to “quite surprising” (Scarperi, Stranik) and finally to “who on earth is that teenager that crushed in semis” (Pilz).

It is also true that the female field still has a distinct division between the absolute best1 (Wurm, Stöhr) and the rest. And with Coxsey watching from the sidelines they had it easier than normal. But wait until Toronto, where the British star will be back, along with Noguchi and Puccio.

On the male side things are so incredible tight that it is hard to exaggerate for effect (see what I did there?). While Stranik and Scarperi climbed in finals (and did really well), three guys from the World Rank top 5 couldn’t make it through (Sharafutdinov, Gelmanov, Glairon Mondet).

Some may point out that the semifinal round, with those hard boulders and less than ideal weather conditions made the results a bit more random than usual. But those eventualities have always been (and will be) part of the game.

What it is not hard to predict, and not random at all, is the good performance of the German Team, which seem to have cracked the code of this comps. They tend to do very well in the funky, sketchy and dynamic sequences that abound in the IFSC bouldering events.

Also, Wurm and Hojer seem to have internalized that feeling of “I’m gonna crush whatever they put in front of me” that’s needed to do consistently well in top-level comps. They don’t go out to try the problems, they go out to flash them. Wurm in particular climbed with such confidence that Stöhr had a hard time just trying to keep up.

Hojer is a little more dependent on the setting, but when the opportunity arises he seizes it without hesitation. His flash of men’s 2 is a perfect example. He made it look easy while only another man (Schubert) managed to top it (and he needed 6 attempts).

Just with the Ondra-Hojer, Wurm-Stöhr combo we would have a really interesting bouldering season ahead of us. Adding the non-Europeans to the mix (Puccio, Noguchi, McColl, Chon, Sugimoto…) and giving that the rest of the euro-stars are not going anywhere, we can only expect a World Cup to be remembered.

The European Championships could have set a clear tone for the season. Imagine a victory by, say, Sharafutdinov and Stöhr, with everyone looking one step behind. Luckily for us watching, we had the absolute opposite: A buffet of climbers looking really close to each other.

Would you bet any money on who will make podium in Toronto? Neither would I.

  1. When I say “best” I mean “those who have the best results”. I am not saying that Stöhr is a better climber than, say, her teammate Saurwein. But I am saying that Stöhr usually has better results.

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