With both men and women climbing simultanously in the semi-final round, it was wall to wall action at the semi-final round of the IFSC Bouldering World Cup in Canada. Again the capacity crowd was treated to a terrific show by the climbers and the routesetters. As is often the case between rounds, dramatic reshuffling of the standing took place.
On the men’s side, Jakob Schubert of Austria vaulted into provisional first place with a clinical display of power and precision. He was a the first men out to complete all 4 problem, and did it in an economical 7 attempts. Schubert was particularly impressive on problem number 2 on the steepest cave in the middle of the event wall. The problem laucnched out of the bottom of the cave via big moves on volumes, where they are forced to lunge for a poor sloping edge, check the swing and climb through micro crimps on the head wall to the top. Where others looked shaky and hesitant, Schubert cruised through easily.
The other two climbers who impressed were Jorg Verhoeven (NED) and Rustam Gelmanov (Rus). Both are smart and tough competitors used to competing at the top level, and the pressure of finals. Both have also had subpar results (by their standards, Gelmanov is the overall WC winner last season) thus far this season, and will be looking to change that this evening in Hamilton.
As expected Sean McColl made it through safely into the finals, the only Canadian to do so, though not without some drama. He struggled on the technical slab of problem 1 and got completely shut down on a long move on problem 2 without even hitting zone, leaving him with a lot of ground to make up.
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Speaking about his performance afterwards, McColl commented, “It was really hard this round because I knew Jorg (Verhoeven) was doing them really quickly in front of me, and it’s not mental pressure, but you know that the boulders are done, and normally if one person is flashing it, then usually other people have done it before him. I knew (from audience cheers) that he had done 3 or 4, and so I wondered how many other people have done.”
McColl managed to flashed problem 3, which was enough to put him into finals, but that was unknown to him and the majority of the audience, creating a real moment of drama. As he struggled to hit a long pull to a mail slot edge, on his first, then second and third attempt, the audience grew visibly and audibly nervous, and McColl too looked rattled for the first time this competition. With the MC Pete Woods whipping the audience into a frenzy, the visibly fatigue McColl summoned up enough energy for one last, successful burn. For the rest of the Canadians, Stacy Weldon used her vast competition experience to advantage, coolly flasing problem one, to finish in 16th place and top Canadian female. Elise Sethna and Kerry Briggs finished in 19thand 20th place respectively. Miles Adamson, the only other Canadian man to make semi-final round, finished in 17th place.
On the women’s side, the reshuffling was less dramtic, but equally hard fought. With the setters adjusting the level of difficulty down a touch based on yesterday’s results, the women had to complete all four boulder problems to even have a chance at the finals. Juliane Wurm of Germany, who won Innsbruck just two weeks ago, had a dramaticly improved performance compared to yesterday, topping all four problems. But she was still the first woman cut from finals-for taking too many attempts (8)-the cruellest finishing position. After her round was over, Wurm said, “I am happy with how I climbed but its not enough.”
In the end Akiyo Noguchi of Japan, emerged again at the top of the leaderboard with a perfect flash of 4 for 4. But close on her heels are Shauna Coxsey (GBR), Alex Puccio (USA) and Anna Stohr (AUT), all of whom flashed all four semi’s problems. Rounding out the last finals competitor is Katharina Saurwein of Austria.
Noguchi is feeling hopeful, “I am a little bit nervous, but I am enjoying it because of the many people in the audience cheering for us. I think the final will be harder, but I am excited and I hope to win.” Noguchi will have good reason to feel optimistic, as she took the win the last time the World Cups was in Canada, in Canmore in 2008. However both her and Juliane Wurm singled out Anna Stohr as the woman to beat this evening.