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Rock Master Gran Galà – Duel

Duel © Anna Piunova

Duel © Anna Piunova

The end of this World Championship in Arco was reserved to a special competition: the Duel. This spectacular event has slowly but surely become a classic and highly exciting closure to the Rock Master and, in effect, in this World Championship the Duel was only a “demonstration” event. But it was fought-out just as much as all the competitions, especially since this year it assigned the Rock Master… And everyone knows that winning the Champions Trophy is high on the list of all athletes’ desires.

The best 16 Lead competitors challenged each other today up two parallel and identical routes on the right-hand wall in the Climbing Stadium. Speed, tactics and plenty of power were the name of the game as the Duel route was extremely intense. In short, the route was a completely different kettle of fish compared to the pure speed piste.

The comp began with the women’s 1/8 and duels much like in tennis: the first (Angela Eiter) raced against the 16 (Seuran Han) and so forth. Those who qualified into the 1/4 finals were Angela Eiter, Sasha DiGiulian, Johanna Ernst, Katharina Posch, Jain Kim, Yana Chereshneva, Magdalena Röck and Mina Markovic who beat, respectively, Seuran Han, Alexandra Eyer, Jenny Lavarda, Yuka Kobayashi, Caroline Ciavaldini, Christine Schranz, Charlotte Durif and Maja Vidmar. Which meant that all the World Championship finalists moved on to the next round apart from Christine Schranz (7th) who was eliminated by Yana Chereshneva.

The time had now come for the men’s first round. Last night’s hero, recently crowned Lead World Champion Ramón Julian Puigblanque immediately eliminated Gauthier Supper. Thomas Tauporn beat Evgeny Zazulin. Magnus Midtboe qualified without difficulty as Sean McColl. The same went for Manuel Romain who eliminated Mikhail Chernikov. Jakob Schubert got the better of Jorg Verhoeven. And while Sachi Amma beat Evgeny Ovchinnikov, Adam Ondra easily beat Romain Desgranges and Cédric Lachat qualified by eliminating Hyunbin Min. Which meant that 3 Lead finalists had been eliminated: Zazulin, Ovchinnikov & Min.

The women’s 1/4 final kicked off with a surprise: DiGiulian made short work of Eiter. But everyone knows that the recently crowned Lead World Champion has never really been a “sprinter”. Jain Kim from Korea was the next to be eliminated by an unleashed Chereshneva. Markovic beat Röck, while Ernst qualified easily against Posch. The men’s 1/4 finals started with incredible Tauporn eliminating none other than king Puigblanque. To some surprise Manuel Romain eliminated Midtboe. Schubert qualified by beating Amma. And then Ondra showed his fighting spirit once again in a beautiful head-to-head against the incredible Lachat who fell, right at the end, enabling magical Adam to qualify for the next round.

When the time came for the women’s Semifinal, the atmosphere had warmed to just the right temperature. The stadium was filled with spectators ready for the usual format. Ernst eliminated DiGiulian in a race which went down to the wire. Chereshneva continued her splendid competition and beat Markovic. The battle for the men’s final was won by an increasingly pugnacious Ondra who capitalised on Schubert’s fall. Tauporn continued his incredible run and “burnt off” Romain.

This is how one Duel after the next led to the final. In the battle for 3rd and 4th place Sasha DiGiulian & Jakob Schubert won bronze beating Manuel Romain and Mina Markovic. The time had finally come for this special (and probably unique with this formula) Rock Master. Extraordinary Yana Chereshneva won after an exciting head-to-head against Johanna Ernst and in doing so the Russian also won her first Rock Master. Adam Ondra set off like a rocket, followed close behind by Thomas Tauporn. The Czech climber wanted to win at all costs and he did so by creating a clear margin compared to the German. Magic Adam, after his 3rd place in the Lead last night, raised his first Rock Master way up high. One thing is certain: it won’t be his last…

report by Vinicio Stefanello / planetmountain.com

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