By: Andre Cheuk
All Photos: Miguel Jette
Team Canada ‘s Sean McColl made it safely through to the final, qualifying comfortably in second place, and looking very strong headed into the final. Speaking before the comp, McColl spoke candidly about his start to the season thus far, “I haven’t done great this season, the first one I was 21st, that one hurt. I was only one try away as it is often the case. But I was pretty shocked. I was 8th in Innsbruck, which is good, but I still made a few mistakes… but I have been getting better and better.”
Based on his semifinal performance, McColl looks to be definite contender for the win. Victory or even podium in front of the home crowd would go along way toward turning McColl’s season around.
With so many comeptitors tied on tops after the qualifiers, route setters predictably turned the heat up for semi to sort out the contenders for finals. Unpredictably, this produced a big shake up in the overall standings, with some perennial finalist getting shut out.
Biggest casualty of the morning would be surprise overnight leader Sol Sa of Korea, who fell all the way to ninth, and out of a berth in the finale. Perhaps even more surprising, the usually consistent Austrian duo of Killian Fischuber and Anna Stohr, failed to make the cut for the final round. As defending champions and top ranked WC competitors, Fischuber and Stohr were widely expected to make an impact in the final and contend for the win.
Last year’s silver medalist Akiyo Noguchi repeated her performance of last year, qualified in first place, putting on a commanding performance. But Great Britain’s Shauna Coxsey, who is having a breakthrough seasons, is ready to capitalize on any mistakes on Noguchi’s part. Juliane Wurm of Germany and Alex Puccio of the USA are also big threats for victory.
Standing in the way of McColl’s quest for victory will be Jan Hojer of Germany, who took his maiden WC victory in Chongqing, China. With such depth in the field, the rest of the men’s finalist are possible winners, with perennial finalists Rustam Gelmanov (RUS) and Guillaume Glairon Mondet (FRA); and James Kassay (AUS) and Jongwon Chon (KOR) as dark horses.