This morning, the best climbers in the world took to the mats for Brixen’s first World Cup competition. Grossman continues her lead after a near-perfect season, while several favourites abstain from the competition. This event marks the second to last Boulder World Cup event of the season. Still, even at this late date, the depth of the women’s field continues to surprise. Three competitors make their first Boulder World Cup semi-final in Brixen.
Grossman and Gibert Lead
The stress of competition made it to Natalia Grossman’s Instagram last month as she described the pressure she felt to perform. As the favourite for the women’s category following Janja Garnbret’s abstention from competition, Grossman has carried the weight of expectation through each of these last World Cups. This morning, however, she seemed unburdened.
The five Tops she earned in this morning’s semi-final placed her alongside France’s Fanny Gibert who also earned Five tops in the other qualification sub-category. Gibert’s qualification round today was her best of the 2022 season and will be reason to watch for her in tomorrow’s semi-final. As one of the more technically adept climbers on the circuit Gibert has struggled with power moves. If the setting style were to remain the same, then she may find herself on the podium. Still, consistency is the French climber’s weakness on the World Cup stage.
Missing Favourites in Brixen
American Brooke Raboutou and France’s Oriane Bertone each medalled in this year’s World Cup Series, but neither competed in today’s qualification round. Instead, Germany’s Hannah Meul and China’s Zhilu Luo made up the two third-place spots rounding out the top four with the Gibert and Grossman.
Team Canada Misses Semis
A tough qualification round pushed Canada’s best out of tomorrow’s semi-final. Alannah Yip led the Canadian women with two Tops and five Zones. A minimum of three Tops and five Zones in five attempts to Top was required to make semi-finals. Yip finished her round in 35 place.
Ontario’s Madison Fischer returned to the World Cup stage after her 10-place performance in Meiringen. This afternoon, however, Fischer missed out on semi-finals with two Tops and five Zones earning a 39 place finish.
Canadians Paige Boklaschuk, Lia Wieckowski, and Becca Frangos finished their competitions in 55, 69 and 72 respectively.
New Faces In Semis
Although the Canadians may not have competed as they would have liked, several new faces will join the semi-final veterans. Australia’s Olympian Oceania Mackenzie made her first World Cup semi-final this morning with four Tops and five Zones.
She was joined by Japan’s Anon Matsufuji. Matsufuji narrowly missed semi-finals in Salt Lake City scoring one place out of the second round. The 18-year-old has made four World Cup appearances in her career, all of which occurred this year. She improved from 49 to 39 to 21 in previous competitions and qualified for semis today in 15.
Matsufuji is joined by teammate Serika Okawachi who made her first World Cup semi-final today with four Tops and five Zones in five attempts. The incredible performance brought her to fifth position when her previous best in a Boulder World Cup rested at 27 from a 2016 event. Her more recent results were less impressive, but her fifth-place qualification today, paired with the fact that this is her first World Cup event since 2019, speaks well of the 24-year-old’s future in the sport.
Favourites for Podium
With the above mentioned, a few stand-out athletes remain. Japan’s Miho Nonaka earned her first medals of the season in Salt Lake City and will look top replicate those results tomorrow in Brixen. Her low-placing qualification does not reflect her potency as an athlete, especially in the challenging semi-final format.
Serbia’s Stasa Gejo and Italy’s Camilla Moroni could each push into the top places given the right rounds, though Gejo has struggled in this World Cup Series. With that said, both Bertone and Raboutou are not competing tomorrow. They have left space for any who hope to earn their first Boulder World Cup medal of the season.
Austria’s Franziska Sterrer and Korea’s Chaehyun Seo may take those medals as they qualified in seventh and fifth respectively. Although shaking Grossman from the top spot seems unlikely, both Sterrer and Seo made finals recently. Sterrer dominates when she has a strong round, while Seo’s consistency as a sport climber makes her a dangerous competitor on the mats.
Finally, American Cloe Coscoy will want to make finals in this, the second-to-last Boulder World Cups of the season. This year, Coscoy climbed well as one of the few athletes to make semi-finals in each of the 2022 Boulder World Cups. Her consistency has not yet earned her finals, but this weekend, that accumulated experience could push her through to the top six.
The men’s qualifiers also finished this afternoon, and the women’s semi-final begins tomorrow at 5:00am EST. Women’s finals will follow, leaving the men’s semi-final and final for Sunday.
Women Advancing to Semis
1 – Natalia Grossman (USA)
1 – Fanny Gibert (FRA)
3 – Hannah Meul (GER)
3 – Zhilu Luo (CHN)
5 – Serika Okawachi (JPN)
5 – Chaehyun Seo (KOR)
7 – Jessica Pilz (AUT)
7 – Stasa Gejo (SRB)
7 – Franziska Sterrer (AUT)
10 – Futaba Ito (JPN)
11 – Ayala Kerem (ISR)
11 – Cloe Coscoy (USA)
11 – Vita Lukan (SLO)
14 – Holly Toothill (GBR)
15 – Anon Matsufuji (JPN)
15 – Camilla Moroni (ITA)
17 – Miho Nonaka (JPN)
17 – Oceania Mackenzie (AUS)
19 – Petra Klingler (SUI)
19 – Julija Kruder (SLO)
Featured image of Miho Nonaka by Daniel Gajda.