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Jain Kim and Hiroto Shimizu Dominate in Inzai

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This past weekend marked the final Lead World Cup of the 2019 Lead Season. While Chaehyun Seo (KOR) and Adam Ondra (CZE) had already secured gold in the Overall season ranking, second and third place for both genders was still up for grabs. After claiming the Championship title in Lead, Bouldering and Combined in Hachioji, Janja Garnbret (SLO) looked poised to take second on the Overall podium. For the men, it would be a close race between Alberto Ginés López (ESP), Sean McColl (CAN), Kai Harada (JPN) and Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA).

Jain Kim Makes History

Jain Kim sticks the first of the final two slopers in the women’s final.

The women’s final route was a series of insecure, position-dependent moves. Small blue crimps and sloped red volumes zigzagged up the wall to create over 40 technical and dynamic moves. Several of the finalists, Laura Rogora (ITA) and Aika Tajima (JPN), fell mid-route on a coordination style move to place seventh and eighth respectively. Natsuki Tanii and Miho Nonaka both surpassed the coordination and were able to complete a few more power-draining moves on a steep angle before falling on a large pull to a pinch. 

Veteran climber Akiyo Noguchi (JPN) nearly missed a clip right as the wall was getting steep. She just got the rope in and was able to muster enough power to surpass the pinch Tanii and Nonaka fell going for. Noguchi fell just a move after that and placed fourth. 

Chaehyun Seo, the 2019 Overall Lead winner, looked strong and steady on the final route. She climbed flawlessly but fell short of the top after missing the penultimate sloper. Jain Kim (KOR) climbed after Seo. Kim climbed with her usual slow and deliberate pace. She reached the top with energy to spare, shaking out on the last sloper and making the final clip with just 20 seconds remaining. Garnbret, knowing she needed a top win, climbed with more caution than usual. She misread the steep section of the wall and took some energy to correct her position. By the time she reached the headwall, she was gassed. Garnbret fell just above Seo’s highpoint and a few moves from the top. 

Kim took her 30th World Cup gold medal, a record for any man or women in the sport, while Garnbret placed second and Seo third. 

In the Overall ranking, Garnbret placed second behind Seo and Tanii took third.

Hiroto Shimizu Wins His First World Cup

Hiroto Shimizu prepares for the coordination dyno in the men’s final route.

The men’s final was a mix of dual-tex holds and risky moves. Like the women, the men’s final had a coordination move mid-route, which threw two climbers— Sean Bailey (USA) and Meichi Narasaki (JPN). Loïc Timmermans (BEL) just barely made it past the coordination move but fell a few moves later trying shoulder into a volume. McColl and Grupper made it a few moves past Timmermans highpoint and fell in a tick-tacky steep section to place sixth and fifth respectively.

Like Noguchi, Yuki Hada (JPN) nearly skipped a clip right as the wall kicked out. Hada managed to clip but only salvaged enough energy to stick the next move, matching Grupper’s highpoint to place fourth. 

Ghisolfi battled nearly to the headwall and fell a few moves past Grupper and Hada to finish third. Ginés López made the next highest point on the route to place second and Hiroto Shimizu (JPN), who fell just a few moves short of the top, finished first. This World Cup was Shimizu’s second World Cup of the year, but his first ever gold medal.

On the Overall podium, Ginés López took second after Ondra and McColl third. 

Jesse Grupper fights for a spot in finals during the semifinal round.

Jesse Grupper and Sean Bailey Make Finals

The American men had a very strong showing in Inzai. Grupper and Bailey, who both made finals last weekend in Xiamen, were able to cinch the finals a second time. Drew Ruana finished in 21st, Nathaniel Coleman in 23rd and John Brosler in 52nd. 

Margo Hayes and Kyra Condie both made qualified for semifinals and finished in 13th and 14th, respectively. Alex Johnson placed 37th and Estelle Park 48th. 

Next up is the Toulouse Olympic Qualifier November 28 through December 1. The top six athletes of each gender will be granted invitations to the 2020 Olympics.

Feature Image by Eddie Fowke. Full results can be found on

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