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Semifinal Lead men report

Magnus Midtboe © Giulio Malfer

Magnus Midtboe © Giulio Malfer

We’ve learned that Lead climbing consists of unimaginable variables. Perhaps it’s because the audience still has images of Angela Eiter’s miraculous third World Title win, but when Sean McColl climbs all the way to just below the roof, we all believed that this Men’s Lead World Semifinal would result in all athletes climbing extremely high indeed. The Canadian was 2nd on the startlist, but… things couldn’t have turned out more different. One athlete after the next fell further down. Lower and lower: roughly between the 25th and 28th move, just above the red volume which immediately proved to be the first “small” filter. Wanna bet that this might become a “big” filter?

Eternal Evgeny Ovchinnikov immediately proved this theory wrong. banking on his 40-year experience, he is still the Russian warrior that everyone remembers. He fights like a lion then falls after a one-on-one  battle with the legendary wave-shaped roof. He falls but nonetheless he’s provisional first! And, as time will tell, he’ll maintain that lead for a while… Only the German athlete Thomas Tauporn (who placed 6th in the Boulder Final) seems to reach his highpoint but only touches the Russian hold before falling. As ex-battle companion and now technical speaker Cristain Brenna stated “Evgeny hasn’t come to Arco to go for a stroll in the park.” Up to this point, his climb was perfect!

You might have understood, we’re about to tell a tale which seems more like a dream. Because gradually, as the competition unfolds, this dream starts to become reality. Every athlete falls beneath Ovchinnikov. And half-way through the comp his record still resists. It’s clear that from here onwards, with the strongest still to come, that the countdown has begun to discover who’ll qualify for a place in the final. Manuel Romain never hesitates and is the first to climb past Ovchinnikov. He tackles the wave with determination but then fumbles thing up; he manages to grab the first hold out of the roof but then falls. The Frenchman now leads the groups of Semifinalists by one move. 20-year-old Russian Evgeny Zazulin immediately places provisional second, while the talented flying Dutchman Jorg Verhoeven fall just below the roof… At this point a revelation appears: Korean Hyunbin Min climbs so well it’s a pleasure to watch. Below the roof he even waves to the huge audience and then climbs footloose out of the roof. His wonderful, acrobatic performance brings his straight to the top of the provisional ranking!

There is almost no time to savour French athlete Romain Desgranges fall below the roof, nor Ukrainian Valeriy Kryukov and the time is ripe for Mr. Adam Ondra. What can we say about this little “monster”? He climbs with his usual savoir faire. He gobbles up the roof and exits with style, only to fall just one move higher than Min. Magic Adam is clearly unhappy with his performance, but this nets him provisional first nevertheless. 6 athletes still to come. Our “dream” man – Evgeny Ovchinnikov – currently lies 5th and things seem to be getting a little bit complicated… Even if Austrian Mario Lechner falls extremely low on the route.

It’s now time for Norwegian climber Magnus Midtboe who wears a black band in sign of mourning after yesterday’s terrorist attack in Norway. He fights hard, more determined than ever and when he falls exiting the roof he finishes third.  Cédric Lachat the sets off but struggles with quickdraw in the roof and falls: he’s provisional 8th and risks not making it into this second final – after Sunday’s Boulder. The risk is real since Japanese athlete Sachi Amma, despite messing up the sequence through the roof -  immediately chucks him out of the final.

At this point what we expected right from the outset has now become reality. The more careful readers will have understood why… But there’s no time to stop and think because we’re up in the roof once again, this time with Austrian Jakob Schubert who is simply outstanding today. He climbs past the previous highpoint and, with embarrassing ease, races to greet the top and the applause. The only one missing now is legendary Ramón Julian Puigblanque. He come from Catalonia and has won all there is to win. Including, on this wall, 5 Rock Masters. He powers through the climb as if it’s a mere formality. And to render it more interesting, beneath the roof he invents an new sequence before cruising, naturally, to the top. Leaving the crowd speechless…

In short: the two big stars of this competition, Puigblanque and Schubert, have qualified for the finals this evening. As has magical Adam Ondra. And Min (a small surprise),  Midtboe, Romain and Zazulin (the other surprise). They will be joined by – last but not least – the true hero of this Semifinal, the dream which started right at the beginning, Evgeny Ovchinnikov. 40 years old…  two Rock Master victories to his name… countless battles worldwide… and now in the finals in this World Championship! Yes, unthinkable at the start. But now a dream come true!

report by Vinicio Stefanello / planetmountain.com

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- video
- results
- Final Lead Men report
- Qualification Lead men report