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Qualification Boulder women report

Alizée Dufraisse © Anna Piunova

Alizée Dufraisse © Anna Piunova

Shauna Coxsey & Francesca Metcalf are the first Bouldering Semifinalists

Saturday 16 July, 12 o’clock, the second day of the Arco World Championship began with the Female Boulder qualifying event. 69 athletes from 29 nations ready to reserve their place in the second round. Many of the girls had been dreaming of this moment for years. They all knew perfectly well that they weren’t allowed to make any mistakes… and this rendered the start fatally tense. Luckily the situation improved somewhat thanks to the merciful weather conditions: a light breeze and auspicious clouds made this battle field less “scorching hot”. It all started off softly, the problems provde climbable and were sent easily and with great technique by almost all. It almost seemed… too easy. But, as things turned out, this was only the first impression…

You can bet that the strongest realized there was a catch somewhere – a tricky boulder problem squeezed into each heat by the route setters. It soon became apparent that the only way to proceed to the Semifinal was to compete perfectly, or as close to perfection as possible. In other words, to qualify for the Semis it looked as if they needed to top out on all 5 problems, and do so with the fewest of attempts. Who knows if Anna Stöhr and the Japanese climber Akiyo Noguchi, the queens of world bouldering, were at all worried by this? What is sure is that they didn’t achieve a perfect score. Their 4 tops proved that the qualifiers weren’t quite as simple as initially expected.

Negar Varshochi © Giulio Malfer

Negar Varshochi © Giulio Malfer

The top of the table was filled by two absolute surprise results in the form of Francesca Metcalf from the USA and Shauna Coxsey from Great Britiain who “won” their respective heast thanks to their truly exciting determination. 5 tops for both: Francesca Metcalf needed 13 attempts to complete all the problems, while Shauna Coxsey and her superb grit needed a mere 7 attempts. A hair’s breadth separated her from Mélanie Sandoz or, put in other words, just one attempt less. They were followed into the Semifinal by the other elite team of those who topped out on all 5 problems: Angela Payne, her American teammate Alex Johnson and Mina Markovic from Slovenia. All awesome!

Just like Sasha DiGiulian! The other member of the stars and stripes team was one of the last to climb and she topped out on 3 in a row first go, before finishing her run with a total of 4 tops and a sure place in the Semis. Right behind her were calibre  athletes such as Jain Kim (KOR), Anna Stöhr (AUT), Anna Gallyamova (RUS) and Olga Shalagina (UKR), all with 4 tops.

Apart from the aforementioned Francesca Metcalf – the only athlete to send all 5 problems – the following all qualified with 4 tops in Group A: Melissa Le Neve (FRA), Yana Chereshneva (RUS), Akiyo Noguchi (JPN), Juliane Wurm (GER), Momoka Oda (JPN) and the ever fighting Olga Bibik (RUS). 3 tops guaranteed Alexandra Eyer (SUI), Alizée Dufraisse (FRA) and Natalija Gros (SLO) a place in the Semifinals.

Italian Jenny Lavarda just missed out on qualifying (with 3 tops and only two attempts more than Gros) while her teammate Alexandra Ladurner placed 18th with 2 tops and Elena Chiappa, from Turin, sent just 1 problem. Other illustrious climbers who failed to qualify were Alex Puccio (USA) and the Austrians Barbara Bacher and Sabine Bacher. In truth, everyone deserves a special mention. And one problem in particular is worth remembering, the  amazing “contorsionist” boulder with its outwards facing start. Spectacular!

Tomorrow things begin in earnest with both the Female and Male Boulder Semifinals and Finals. As always the competition will be filled with uncertainty and there’ll certainly be no time to get bored. The Championship is now in full swing and there was a great feeling at the Climbing Stadium today; the great feeling that only climbing can give!

report by Vinicio Stefanello / planetmountain.com

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