Day 1 of the IFSC World Cup Bouldering Canada continued at 4pm in the afternoon of June 1, with Men’s qualification round.
By the time the Men’s qualifier started, the assembled crowd had already been treated to an exciting display from the Women earlier, and they were primed and ready for more acrobatic displays and power from the men. They were not disappointed.
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The first out of the gate was the home crowd favourite, Vancouver’s Sean McColl, who came out like a man on a mission. He came out and quickly fired problem 1, a technical and balancy traverse, making it look deceptively easy, however once the other conpetitors got on, it became very clear it was anything but easy. Gualliume Glairon Mondet of France, a perennial finalist and podium threat, took multiple attempts and ran the clock down before finally succeeding by the skin of his teeth, all other competitors similarly took multiple tries before figuring it out.
A similar story would play out over the rest of the round, McColl would come out to flash each problem in a methodical and efficient manner, and then the audience would see how devious and difficult the problems the Setters have created are, as subsequent competitiors struggled one after another. On flashing the last problem, McColl brought the assembled crowd to its feet and received a standing ovation.
Speaking after his perfect qualifier round giving him Pole position, McColl said, “I was really excited to be here, there was a big crowd and everyone was looking for me to lead the team.” He went on to say that his good start on problem 1, set a tone, “I just kept doing it, I kept flashing and flashing and by the 3rd or 4th problem, I was pretty confident of doing them all.”
Tightly packed after McColl are a long list of men who are familiar sights at the top of World Cup results sheets. Rei Sugimoto (JPN), and Jorg Verhoeven (NED), Killian Fischuber of Austria who is one of the favourites for Sunday, tops the deep field of contenders heading into Sunday’s semi final round.
Sugimoto in particular looked especially strong. Problem 3, set in a steep cave, requires a long reach from a small but solid crimp across to a mini volume with four similar looking but different piggy backed holds, with the furtherest and hardest to see being the best. Many a comeptitor were shut down on this powerfull move, which requires them to cut loose and commit to the throw, either going to the wrong hold or just miss hitting the correct one.
Like many others, Sugimoto missed on his initial surged to the piggy back hold. But unlike others, he managed to check his swing hanging on just the one crimp, and then reintiate the reach from a dead hang, completing the rest of the problem easily, a powerful display.
The newly anointed National Bouldering Champion Miles Adamson was the other Canadian male to make it into the semi finals, completing 2 of the 5 problems in 9 attempts. Adamson was in the hot seat until the end, not knowing whether he would make the cut until the last man had completed qualifiers, before discovering he did well enough to pip Japan’s Shinta Ozawa as the final man to go into the second round. Speaking about his successful bid to qualify for semis, Adamson responded, “Yes, that was the goal, but I really didn’t expect it at all. Just because I’d heard that everyone (top contenders) that could be here, is here essentially, so really deep field.”
Perhaps even more so than any competitor, the outstanding performance belonged to the crowd. A large and enthusiatic audience was already gathered at 10am when the first female competitor, Anna Stohr of Austria came out of Isolation Zone, and the number and enthusiasm only grew throughout the day. Jakob Schubert of Austria, who has won multiple Lead and Bouldering World Cup, and a definite threat for the win on Sunday, was impressed by the crowd in Hamilton, Schubert said, “It’s crazy, it is like a final already. We are not use to that. Normally at qualifications, we don’t have so many people cheering already, so it was really really wild, it was great.”