Rock Master Lead, Puigblanque and Kim crowned king and queen
The great Lead Final soirée exalted the Arco Rock Master to the max. And its heroes are Ramon Julian Puigblanque from Spain and Jain Kim from Korea. It all happened on Saturday night in a Climbing Stadium filled to the brim, fever-pitch and ready to undertake a memorable journey. Because it seemed as everyone was really there, on the immense wall, side by side with the athletes. To defy the law of gravity. To overcome those incredible difficulties which barred the way to the sky, to the end of the route. Wow!
The evening began with the women’s final. The route was long, a massacre, difficult. It explored, with wise twists and turns, the massive wall on the left before exiting through the large roof to reach the top. Caroline Civaldini, the first out, climbed high. But one thing was clear from the outset: the journey through the roof was going to be a long one. Excellent Christine Schranz from Austria immediately explored the next section. Then it was Frenchwoman Alizée Dufraisse’s turn, but she was halted just beneath the highpoint. Not even Mina Markovic from Slovenia managed to do better. The crowd tried to understand, wanted to explore those holds hitherto untouched. Expectations were high and palpable. Like the desire to see beyond, past the immense roof. So when the surprising Austrian Katharina Posch climbed high, higher than all the rest, it was like a liberation. But there was no time to rest as Angela Eiter was ready at the starting block, roaring to go. A miracle was expected of the 4 times Rock Master winner. And Eiter proved magical, climbing at her very limit, fighting to the max, in true Eiter style. She climbed high, past the rest, then battled hard and gave more than she had: magnificent, but Posch led the field by a hair’s breadth. This provisional result remained unchanged even after Alexandra Eyer. The Swisswoman was on great form and when she was up there, just benath the highpoint, everyone was convinced that she’d climb higher. But things turned out differently, the route took no prisoners, all that was needed was the slightest of distractions and Alexandra fell down. Posch remained provisional first, followed by Eiter… The competition was now in its final stage, only Jain Kim was still to come after producing the best result in the Semifinal, after having produced the only top. Everyone hoped for another miracle. The crowd believed. And Jain believed in it too, and she climbed her, effortlessly, weightlessly upwards. She climbed past all the rest and continued upwards. And onwards upwards- The crowd spurred her on and then, when she fell just beneath the top, exploded with joy. Great Jain Kim! What a spectacle! The Korean won the 24th Rock Master, ahead of Katharina Posch and Angela Eiter.
There was no time for the excitement to ebb as the men’s final began in earnest. With the reigning World Champion, Patxi Usobiaga. And, immediately, a first surprise. The Basque climbers fell extremely low, at the first filter. These things happen. But when Canadian Sean McColl falls even lower, and then, in rapid succession, both Romain Desgranges from France and Cédric Lachat from Switzerland fall at Usobiaga’s highpoint, the stadium no longer knew what to think. Was the route set badly? Perhaps Lachat and McColl were feeling the effects of the double-whammy bouldering + lead? All doubts were whisked aside when Sachi Amma from Japan climbed in perfect style past that terrible section. And he then continued his journey upwards, to the start of the roof, before falling. The crowd went wild: they’d understood that the journey would continue and would go the distance. Jakob Schubert immediately showed the way. The 20-year-old Austrian climbed perfectly and ever upwards, past Amma’s highpoint and the lip of the route. Fantastic. The crowd dreamt of a top and now believed it was in the climber’s grasp. Also because next up was Adam Ondra, the 17-year-old monster who had produced a miracle top in the Semifinal. Adam lived up to expectations and climbed like rapidly past the first crux, like a train in motion. Almost too much so, because all of sudden he fell, lower than Schubert. But once again there was no time to stop and think, next up was Ramón Julian Puigblanque, the king of Rock Master and an absolute ace of Lead competitions. And he proved spectacular right from hold one. An incredible spectacle, as Ramonet sent one move after the next with impressive ease. Leaving no hope for the others, as he climbed past the rest. And then, just as the Climbing Stadium seemed to explode, he started a magnificent battle for the final holds. And he stroked the top with a desperate dyno. Before flying down, in free flight, while the crowd offered him a standing ovation for this 5th Rock Master victory. Puigblanque finished first, ahead of Jakob Schubert and Adam Ondra. What a beautiful journey. One to be remembered for a long time to come!
by Vinicio Stefanello, translation Nicholas Hobley