Following a near 10-month hiatus, the first World Cup of the year took place in Briançon, France this past weekend, on August 21 and 22. Representing 11 countries, 65 athletes participated. The first place winners—Laura Rogora, from Italy and fresh offer her historic 5.15b ascent, and the Czech Republic’s Adam Ondra, clinching his 23 gold medal—stood atop the podium in front of a masked crowd.
One month ago, Rogora became the second woman to send 5.15b, with her ascent of Ali Hulk Sit Extension Total in Rodellar, Spain, so it’s no surprise that the 19-year-old was in shape. She dominated the women’s field, placing first in all three rounds. Rogora had a six-hold lead in the semifinal round and managed to clip the last draw in the final round with just 32 seconds left on the clock from the second-to-last hold. Rogora’s first place victory was also a personal first for the young italian.
“It’s still unbelievable. I knew that my shape was good and that I improved a lot this year but I never imagined that I could win,” she told IFSC in an interview. “I had some pressure but not so much because I had nothing to lose.”
Rogora qualified for the Olympics last December. Since then, she’s been on an outdoor rampage—she’s sent four routes 8c+/9a (5.14c/d) or harder just this summer. Following her victory in Briançon, Rogora made it five by ticking La Prophétie des grenouilles 9a (5.14d), in Fournel, in just three tries the next day.
Hot on Rogora’s heels was Janja Garnbret, from Slovenia, who became the first woman to place first in every Bouldering World Cup last year. Garnbret has racked up over 32 gold medals in total and she qualified for the Olympics last year in the first Olympic-qualifying event. Garnbret tied with Rogora in both the qualification and final rounds but fell short in semis. She placed second overall based on countback.
Fanny Gibert, from France, earned her first medal in Lead with her third place finish. The 27-year-old boulder specialist dedicated her phenomenal climb to her late teammate Luce Douady, who passed earlier this year.
Olympic-qualified athlete Jessica Pilz, from Austria, placed fourth. In fifth was Vita Lukan, from Slovenia, who climbed exceptionally after last year’s knee injury. Tjasa Kalan (SLO), Nina Arthaud (FRA), Giogia Tesio (ITA) and Lucija Tarkus (SLO) placed sixth through ninth, respectively. In total, Slovenia took four of the nine finalist’s spots.
Like Rogora, Ondra placed first in all three rounds. He was the only athlete to top the men’s final route.
“The last meters were really dramatic and I got very tired there,” he said in a press release. “I thought these were my last steps before falling, but fortunately, I was able to hold that tiny hold and clip the rope into the final quickdraw. It was a really beautiful experience when 5,000 spectators applauded me. I think I will remember this victory for a long time.”
In second was 26-year-old Domen Skofic, from Slovenia. Skofic was the 2016 Overall Lead World Cup Champion. In third place was Jakob Schubert, from Austria. At 29 years old, Schubert has won a combined total of 21 World Cups and Championships.
Luka Potocar, from Slovenia, placed fourth. In fifth was Germany’s Alex Megos, who recently became the second athlete to send 5.15d, behind Ondra, with Bibliographie, in Céüse, France. Mathais Posch (AUT), Mejdi Schalck (FRA) and Nao Monchois (FRA) paced sixth through eighth, respectively.
The weekend ended on a somber note. Following the award ceremony, IFSC President Marco Scolaris, FFME President Pierre You, Climbers Against Cancer Ambassador Sheila McCarron, French athlete Nao Monchois and the family of Luce Douady paid their respects to Luce, who died tragically earlier this year in a hiking accident in Le Luisset, France. Luce was a fierce competitor—she placed fifth in her first senior Bouldering World Cup in Vail, Colorado in 2019, and then earned her first youth title by placing first in the 2019 Youth Bouldering World Championships in Arco, Italy.
Luce was remembered with a speech and 7,500 euro donation made to Climbers Against Cancer. Her father read Luce’s words:
“I PICTURE MYSELF CLIPPING THE ANCHOR, AND THERE’S A GREAT RELEASE, I FEEL A JOY THAT I CAN’T CONCEAL; A JOY THAT’S SO PURE, SO TRUE, SO STRONG INSIDE OF ME, THAT IT HAS TO SPILL OUT… I SPREAD IT EVERYWHERE: TO EACH FACE, EACH PERSON I MEET, I PASS ON MY LOVE OF LIFE AND MY CHEERFULNESS.”
Feature image shows Nina Arthaud, from France. By Jan Virt/IFSC