Lead qualifications: a spectacular battle
It’s early afternoon when the Lead athletes enter the area: 44 men and 36 women. And finally a light breeze picks up and blows from Lake Garda. The climbing wall is filled to the brim, as all four qualifications routes are constantly occupied by two men and two women of three unbroken hours of lead climbing which is spectacular right from the outset. If this is a glimpse of things to come in 2011 and the rest of the pre-world championship, then there is plenty of fun in store.
Lead qualification men
The routes are beautiful and extremely difficult, despite this being only the qualification. Only four men pass this round with flying colours to lead the provisional ranking with two tops. These are the usual, unstoppable Ramón Julian Puigblanque (ESP) and the incredible Swissman Cédric Lachat who, in the space of just a couple of hours, qualifies for the Semifinals in both the Lead and Boulder events. These two are joined, with full marks, by two Austrian athletes, by a truly impressive David Lama and the 20-year-old (and increasingly positive) Jakob Schubert.
They are followed into the Semifinals with 1 top by class climbers such as Valeriy Kryukov (UKR), Patxi Usobiaga Lakunza (ESP), Sachi Amma (JPN), Sean McColl (CAN), Jorg Verhoeven (NED) and also Adam Ondra (CZE), the phenomenon who breezed up route qualifier 1 only to lose himself on the second qualifier. Alexander Kalina from Russia topped out on one route, too, and he is joined by teammate Mikhail Chernikov who despite missing out on the tops climb extremely high indeed to place provisional 6th. He is followed by Magnus Midtboe (NOR), Romain Desgranges (FRA), Min Hyunbin (KOR) and Stefano Ghisolfi from Italy who qualified 16th along with teammate Nicola De Mattia (23°).
The other athletes who qualified for tomorrow’s semifinal are Klemen Becan (SLO), Mario Lechner (AUT), Jihwan Park (KOR), and the two Japanese Shinta Ozawa and Akito Matsushima. The eagerly awaited Chris Sharma qualified 22nd, his absence from the competition scene is as clear as the fact that he has lost none of his proverbial determination. The list of 26 semi finalists is completed by Kazuma Watanabe (JPN), Max Rudigier (AUT) and Anton Mardashov (UKR).
Lead qualification women
In the women’s qualification three athletes qualified with full marks, namerly Jain Kim from Korea (currently second placed in the World Cup), somewhat surprisingly the 23-year-old Russian Evgenia Malamid and the 16-year-old Austrian Katharina Posch. This trio is follow by the Slovenian champion climber Maja Vidmar, who succeeded in topping out on on route, while all the others who qualified did so without reaching the finishing holds. The first to do so was Caroline Ciavaldini (FRA) provisional 5th, followed by calibre top climbers Angela Eiter (AUT), Mina Markovic (SLO), Yuka Kobayashi (JPN), Yana Chereshneva (RUS) and also, in 10th place, the champion of a thousand battles, Muriel Sarkany from Belgium. She is joined by Christine Schranz (AUT), Alexandra Eyer (SUI), Alena Ostapenko (UKR) and the Frenchwomen Alizée Dufraisse, Charlotte Durif and Hélène Janicot.
And then there are all the rest, including the Italians Sara Avoscan, Jenny Lavarda and the 18-year-old Alexandra Ladurner, 19th and 23rd respectively. The list of 26 finalists is completed by Chloé Graftiaux (BEL), Dinara Fakhritdinova (RUS), Matilda Söderlund (SWE), Momoka Oda (JPN), Sasha DiGiulian (USA) Barbara Bacher (AUT) and Kinga Ociepka (POL).
The battle begins anew tomorrow at 12-30 with the Semifinal. And then, at 21.15, it’ll be time for the great final. The battle promises to be uncertain and, at the same time, certainly exciting!