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The Olympics are coming, and their presence is already being felt in Salt Lake City’s first World Cup. The second world cup is next weekend, same place, same everything. For starters, there are top athletes–and hence, Olympians–missing from the roster. Tomoa isn’t here. Akiyo Noguchi isn’t here. Janja Garnbret didn’t compete in the first, but will next weekend. Also, some of the qualified Olympians are training the combined, and so, one must speculate, might not be as strong in bouldering as they would be normally, since their training time is more dispersed now.
As it stands, after qualifiers, Japan’s Miho Nonaka bossed through the initial five problems taking the lead into semis, which take place tomorrow along with finals. Miho is trailed, however, by Natalia Grossman and Johanna Farmer. A flock of Americans are also in play. Brooke Raboutou in fourth is looking poised. Sienna Knopf, in seventh going into tomorrow, is having one of her best comps.
The athletes going into Semis tomorrow are:
- Miho Nonaka (JPN)
- Natalia Grossman (USA)
- Johanna Farber (AUT)
- Brooke Raboutou (USA)
- Futaba Ito (JPN)
- Katja Debevec (SLO)
- Sienna Kopf (USA)
- Stasa Gejo (SRB)
- Fanny Gibert (FRA)
- Megan Lynch (USA)
- Laura Rogora (ITA)
- Giorgia Tesio (ITA)
- MAO Nakamura (JPN)
- Holly Toothill (GBR)
- Jessica Pilz (AUT)
- Alma Bestvater (GER)
- Kyle Cullen (USA)
- Oriane Bertone (FRA)
- Hannah Meul (GER)
- Chloe Caulier (BEL)
The qualifying problems weren’t steep, but offered a range. They were, left to right:
Problem 1. A left to right slab on a giant volume. It took most competitors a minute just to get to the zone.
Problem 2. An off-slab with crimps and bad feet, to a powerful finish on screwed-on jibs.
Problem 3. A nails power-sloper which only Miho topped… and flashed.
Problem 4. A sneaky knee bar/tech boulder with a tricky last coordination move.
Problem 5. A coordination run, plus a right hop that a lot of competitors tried to avoid, with only one or two succeeding in not hopping.
This is the first World Cup the city has hosted. The sky was overcast, the sun trying to burn through the layers of gray. There was a send breeze from the north. Barebones at the starting gun, the crowds showed up slowly. If you were in the audience, a medium weight puffy was a good idea.
The comp took place in a giant gravel parking lot, aka the Industry, a neo-industrial building with a hip techster vibe. The surrounding area is old-school industrial. The Bouldering wall was covered, thankfully because it rained.
A good day
Sienna “Cece” Kopf had a particularly good morning. She was confident and relaxed, and looked like she was having fun, surprised even. On the fourth problem, she put her flexibility to good use and topped with a wide split unused by all competitors. “That is why you stretch,” a friend sitting next to me said. Yep. When she topped number four, the crowd roared the loudest of the competition. This is one of Sienna’s breakout comps.
Miho Nonaka was the only person to top problem number three. No one even got close. And she flashed it. She also flashed problem two, three, four and five. So in all, Miho fell one time, on the first problem, which we can only attribute to it being 9 am. I, for instance, hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet, and she had to be warmed up and ready to fire. Miho rarely changes her beta and seems to know exactly what to do. And she does it easily. She climbs with grace and agility, as if you imagined a gymnast would.
Following up on a third place finish in Meiringen, Natalia Grossman climbed with poise and lack of regret. She looked rested and hungry for the podium again. She topped all but problem three, and flashed two of the four she did top.
Brooke Raboutou, one of America’s qualified Olympians, was all smiles per the normal. She had a great qualifiers. She topped four boulders, like Grossman, except number 3 (which only Miho topped). She topped #1 as if it were a warm up.
Kylie Cullen had a great day as well, rounding off the Americans that qualified for semis in 17th place.
French Bleasard and rock crusher Oriane Bertone made the cut for semis in 18th place, on the heels of an amazing second place in Meiringen. She is one of the most fun competitors to watch. Perhaps due to her age, but most competitors seem to have a plan and stick to it when going into a problem. If Oriane does have a plan, it looks like she forgets it immediately. She climbs with 100% intuition and skit-skats around the volumes, using them in ways no one does, something her outdoor experience has taught her. She will be a staple of the WC cup circuit to come.
Note to future competitors
One of the basics of all climbing is knowing where the holds are. It pays to look around. Problem number two had a small chip to get you to the last hold, but at a minimum two to three climbers didn’t see it, and so didn’t top it out when it looked obvious they could. A simple look left and the competitors would have seen the hold, and topped the problem, potentially moving onto semis.
Not their best day
Shauna Coxey did not have her best day. She flashed problem two, but didn’t top out problem 1, 3, 4 or 5, in uncharacteristic fashion. Early on, she showed veteran patience. But then once it became obvious she might not move on into semis, she tried harder, and more often. Shauna was basically out of contention by the time the 24th competitor entered the stage.
Kyra Condie didn’t have her best day either. The first two problems ended in dramatic, short-on-time finishes, but she didn’t get so lucky on the latter half of the problems. But one thing is for sure—Kyra is a fighter. She tries with all of her being. She will do anything it takes—and that is why she is going to Tokyo.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s semifinals and finals round.
Feature image Daniel Gajda