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Olympics

The Italian Underdog: Michael Piccolruaz

The 25-year-old boulderer is relatively lesser-known than many of his fellow Olympic climbers, but he remains a stout all-arounder.

Michael Piccolruaz, who hails from Bolzano in the Italian Tyrol, is one of three Italian climbers heading to Tokyo this summer. The 25-year-old Boulder specialist will compete alongside Speed climber Ludovico Fossali, winner of the Speed gold medal at the 2019 Hachioji World Championships, and sport climber Laura Rogora. 

Piccolrauz qualified for the Olympics via the unused Tripartite Commission quota at the 2019 Hachioji World Championships, after finishing 14th in the Combined format. Anouck Jaubert (FRA) qualified via the same quota with an 11th place Combined finish. Essentially, the two climbers were given an Olympic ticket since they were the highest-ranking athletes at Hachioji that had not yet qualified, considering country quotas.

“Sometimes dreaming big pays off! Sometimes big dreams really do come true!” Piccolruaz wrote on Instagram at the time. “I still remember watching the Speed Final of the World Championship in Tokyo last year as if it was yesterday. If I had known back then how much was depending on that single race I for sure wouldn’t have believed it! To keep it short: [Ludovico Fossali] absolutely had to win, then he slipped, I thought all dreams are over, then Jan [Hojer] slipped, Ludo won… I made it to the combined semis, got a 14th place, well, and now… I guess that 14th place really earned me a ticket to the Olympics! I mean, the freaking Olympic games!! Wow, this really is unbelievable!”

Piccolruaz’s IFSC career isn’t filled with podiums, but he has proved himself a stout competitor on numerous occasions. He won a bronze medal in combined in the 2017 IFSC European Championships, behind Jakob Schubert (silver) and Jan Hojer (gold), and is a strong climber outside, with an FA of La Grosse Tarlouze (8C/V15) in Magic Wood, among other hard lines including 9a (5.14d) sport routes.

Piccolruaz has climbed in every World Cup leading up to Villars this season, partaking in all three disciplines, with his best performance occurring at the Salt Lake City Boulder World Cup, where he placed 12th. He did not climb in the most recent Chamonix or Briancon comps, however, explaining on Instagram, “I decided to skip the two Lead World Cups … to squeeze in some more training before departing for the Olympic Games in two weeks. The excitement is now definitely rising day by day but I’m trying hard to make the best out of each session. And with my buddy [Jakob Schubert] I couldn’t wish for a better training partner. Each session together is just a ton of fun and I’m feeling better and better in all three disciplines. So let’s go!”