Hojer and Garnbret take the gold in a final full of epic moments

The biggest world cup ever ended on a very high note, with a final that offered lots of memorable moments. The route setters walked a thin line that ended up working in part due to the creativity of the climbers involved.

jongwon_chon_munich_2017_finals (1)

Jongwon Chon on M2. He was pretty close to sticking the dynamic start.

Seems like the goal in Munich was to make every round as long as possible. After 17 hours of qualifiers, the semis were also extra long due to the special format used to decide the European Championships. The tie between Janja Garnbret and Stasa Gejo required an extra tie-break boulder, something that hasn’t happened since 2009.

Gejo and Garnbret during the Superfinal of the Euro Champs

Then the final was split. The women climbed first, then, after a short break, it was men’s turn. This format, which was also used in Hachioji, allows the audience to focus on each climber and each attempt but doubles the length of the final.

But don’t get me wrong, it was a long show, but it was a good one. Moments like Gejo’s surprising beta on W2, Garnbret’s crazy catch of the second top, Hojer’s last-second match of M1, or his last try to claim the gold will be remembered for years.

The setting for the female final was on the verge of the disaster. The second and third problems could have been really disappointing if it wasn’t for the creativity and commitment of the climbers. Both had really hard starting sequences and we had to see climber after climber falling on the same move.

Luckily for everyone, Petra Klingler and Stasa Gejo found a different approach to W2, that almost worked for Gejo. Then Garnbret went all the way to the top using the intended sequence, proving that it was far from impossible. And her last move to catch the top was just mind-blowing. We are still scratching our heads thinking if that was real.

Janja Garnbret’s epic ascent of W2

The start of W3 was also very hard and, coming right after W2, even harder to watch. Again, Gejo saved the day and proved that the setters know what they are doing and that the line between impossible and too easy is thinner than we might think.

Gejo’s top was even more impressive given that she was clearly tired after having climbed an extra boulder and having a shorter rest period between semis and finals.

W4 was the perfect way to test how much gas the finalists had left in the tank. Puccio, who looked quite frustrated with W2 and W3, had a lot of power left to spare and flashed it. So did Coxsey, who made it look even easier.

Garnbret looked clearly tired but summoned the strength necessary to get all the way to the top, winning her third gold medal in a senior Bouldering World Cup. On Saturday she stood on 4 podiums (Euro Champs, Euro Combined Champs, Munich World Cup and Overall World Cup).

Janja Garnbret on W4

The male final was Jan Hojer’s show. Not only did he top every single problem, he did it with a display of mental and physical flexibility.

While we could debate all day if his clear advantage on M2 (his reach made the first move way easier) was compensated by his not-so-obvious disadvantage on pretty much every other problem, I’d rather point out how much he has improved his game.

Hojer on M1. Using his own sequence.

Hojer on M1. Using his own sequence.

As much as we love to talk about Hojer’s power, we mustn’t forget that he is one of the most creative climbers in the circuit. His size allows him, and sometimes forces him, to find his own solutions. M1 was the perfect example, he tried the intended sequence a couple of times and then bet on his own beta. It was risky but it worked (with just a few seconds left). It was a great moment.

He kept it together on M3, a problem that might have shut him down years ago, but his slab game has improved a lot. Finally, on M4, he once again figured out his own solution for the bottom sequence, and then latched onto those tiny holds, not letting his fingers and chances slip. The crowd was 200% behind him and he was clearly motivated and moved by it. Another moment to be remembered.

Hojer on M4

Hojer won 3 gold medals in a day (Euro Champs, Euro Combined Champs and Munich World Cup), not bad.

Team Japan, clear champion
The Team Ranking was clearly won by Japan (followed by the UK and Slovenia). This season will be remembered by the performance of the Japanese team. 9 different Japanese climbers made podium (the Narasakis, Fujii, Ogata, Watabe, Sugimoto, Ishimatsu, Nonaka and Noguchi). Clearly, the team doesn’t rely on a single super successful star, but on a series of high-performers that can win pretty much any event on a given day.

Japan had 9 different climbers on the podium this season. Mind-blowing.

Akiyo Noguchi deserves a special mention. She has been competing internationally for almost 14 years (she won her first medal in a senior Bouldering World Cup more than a decade ago) and somehow she keeps performing at the highest level.

It could be argued that she’s the only one of her generation (along with Alexey Rubtsov) that can still keep up with the young guns. While many (Fischhuber, Lachat, Gros, Wurm, Le Nevé…) have already retired from competitions, the remaining big names that were competing 10 years ago struggle to keep up (Sharafutdinov, Gelmanov, McColl, Stöhr…).

This season Noguchi has finished on the overall podium for the 9th time in her career. Congratulations are in order.

Akiyo Noguchi on her 9th Overall Podium.

All in all, Munich has been a great event to close the season. As it has been happening year after year, the organizers did a really good job. Congratulations to the hundreds of people involved (volunteers, judges, officials, setters, climbers and coaches…).

Munich had its issues and controversies (number of climbers, epic storm, problems with the livestream, the Euro Champs format…) just like the overall season did (4min flat, paid-streaming fiasco…). But, just like it happened throughout the season, all the negatives were eclipsed by the good show that climbers offered.

So give me super long rounds, give me technical issues, give me weird political decisions… I’ll take it all as long as you keep giving me good climbing.

Here’s the replay:


  1. Thomas R says:

    Hey There!

    Thanks for the nice summary and actually agree with you on nearly everything but here my thoughts on the following two points you mentioned:

    – Length of the Worldcup final:
    I really appreciated the decision of IFSC to split women and men final so there is always just one athlete on stage. This gave me the chance to watch every attempt of an athlete and don’t miss any top or fail of athlete “a”, while camera focused on other athlete “B”. Well, except of technical issues with the Youtube stream ;-) (Will they ever fix this problem?)

    – Routesetting (Male /Female)
    I think the routesetting this time was close to be perfect and far away from a disaster. Why? From my point of view it was the most exciting finals, as (especially the women part) nearly every boulder was topped by a different athlete. I think the most boring routesetting is if every boulder get topped by multiple athletes, especially by the ones you expect … the favorites.

    It was good to see that the problems required also creative power and favorites like Shauna struggled sometimes but problem still has been topped by other competitors.

    Think the reason why Jan had such a great and well deserved evening was not just the points you already mentioned but also the fact that one of the routesetters was a tall guy (even taller than Jan) and so every problem had one beta for tall people … best example M1. I think that this is and was not always the case, as routesetters may forget about people which are taller than 180 cm and so it can make it even more difficult (maybe impossible?) for tall guys like Jan. Don’t get me wrong, don’t want to blame any routesetter of any Worldcup, as this job is probably one of the most underrated jobs of a Worldcup.

    Thanks for keeping us always in the loop on bouldering comps, really appreciated your work! Please do never stop!


    • AngelPalacio says:

      Thanks a lot for the comment Thomas, really interesting points.

      – I also like having just one climber on the stage. But I think is risky if the problems don’t work well. That’s related to my comment about the setting being on the verge of disaster. With just one climber and one problem to pay attention to, if the problem (or two problems in a row) don’t work, the final can be really boring. W2 and W3 were close to that situation. Imagine if no climber would have done the first moves on those two problems. We were pretty close to that scenario, which could have been really frustrating to watch. But thanks to Klingler, Gejo, and Garnbret those problems turned from frustrating to exciting.

      – I liked the route setting in semis and finals (perhaps more during in semis). Every problem was topped and as you say, it was hard to predict what was going to happen.

      – Good point about the tall route setter. I think since more climbers are of average to short height (compared with people like Hojer or Ondra) a lot of focus is put on making the problem fair to the short guys, but no so much on making them fair to the tall guys. But I don’t feel too sorry for the tall guys, they seem to be able to “defend” themselves. Hojer has improved his flexibility and is always looking for “shortcuts” that work for his height.

      – About route setting being underrated… yes, probably very underrated. I’m always amazed at how well most problems work. It is very very difficult to set at that level. A tiny change can turn a problem from impossible to a flash-fest. And still they managed to offer varied, cool problems that test all skills and that can be climbed by some in 5/4 mins, but not climbed by too many.


  2. I like you comment. Good remarks, well balanced.
    However, I think to much credit is given (also in other media) to Jan Hojer. Indeed he performed excellent in Munich, but this was his only finals in all 2017 season and, as you correctly stated, with an obvious advantage in M2 (but probably also in M1 – listen to his compatriot and friend Alex Megos: https://youtu.be/b2MphXypjD4?t=7435).
    Munich was not only a WC comp, but also the end of 2017 bouldering season, so (more) credit should go to:
    — Chon, winning three WC in 2017 (and also qualis and semis in Munich). A great come back after 2015 overall win.
    — Rubtsov, the only non-Asian (and with Chon the only non-Japanese) who can really cope with strong Japan team. One win and four podiums in 2017.
    — Coxsey, a quick come back after shoulder surgery, winning overall again, against strong Japanese and especially a great newcomer, Garnbret (with Shiraishi still ‘hiding’). 3 wins, 3 second places and 1 fourth place in 2017.

    • AngelPalacio says:

      Hi Bojan, thanks for the comment and for those stats. I hadn’t noticed the fact that Noguchi had already been 9 times int he overall podium. I agree that in the context of the overall season Hojer is far from the protagonist. But the post is mostly about Munich, and I think he was one of the major stars in the comp. I will probably do a post or video reflecting on the season as a whole, and of course, Chon, Rubtsov, Coxsey, Garnbret and many other will be mentioned. And I’m looking forward to the moment when Shiraishi comes out of hiding, for sure.


      Update: by the way, I’ve been also reading your comments on 8a.nu and I appreciate the time you put into them, you always add value to the conversation.

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