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Ai Mori and Jakob Schubert Win Lead Climbing World Championships

Stunning finishes in both the men's and women's events made for a very exciting comp

Photo by: Jan Virt/IFSC

On Sunday, the IFSC Lead World Championships were held in Bern, Switzerland. After tight races in both the men’s and women’s fields, Austria’s Jakob Schubert and Japan’s Ai Mori came away with gold. With her win, Mori became the first Japanese climber ever to win a Lead World Championship. The event marks Schubert’s fourth Lead World Championship gold, a record for the men’s division. At 32 years old, he also extends his record as the oldest World Champion across both gender categories. He won Lead World Championships in 2012, 2018, and 2021 – the past seven have been won by either him or Adam Ondra.

The finish of the women’s competition was very exciting. With the last two athletes left to climb, no one had yet reached the top. South Korea’s Chaehyun Seo – the 2021 Lead World Champion – had put up an impressive highpoint at hold 47+. Behind Seo was Mia Krampl with 42 points and Brooke Raboutou with 39+. The second last athlete to climb was none other than Janja Garnbret, coming hot off her Boulder World Championship victory the day before. She looked slightly uncomfortable for the first half of the route, having trouble finding a good rhythm and flow. As she entered the upper headwall, it appeared she picked up a second wind and climbed flawlessly to reach the top of the route.

Was Garnbret going to be double champ again like she was back in 2019? Ai Mori, he final competitor of the women’s comp got on the wall and climbed in her typical smooth, flowy style. As she reached the upper headwall, she didn’t even look pumped. Mori snuck in a short rest before the dynamic move to the final hold. She latched the hold with her left hand, cut feet, matched hands, and clipped the final draw to become the 2023 Lead World Champion. Although both Mori and Garnbret reached the top of the route, Mori placed higher in the semi-finals, leaving her with gold.

“Before climbing I told myself to just enjoy it, so it was an exciting time,” said Mori after her win. “I knew maybe Janja got a top, so I knew I had too as well. I was nervous before, but now I’m happy.”

Garnbret, Mori, and Seo on the podium. Photo by Lena Drapella/IFSC.

The finish of the men’s competition was shocking. Young gun Sorato Anraku had put up an impressive highpoint of 48. Alex Megos then came in behind Anraku, falling at hold 40. After a good fight, Schubert reached Anraku’s highpoint and jumped towards hold 49, awarding him a 48+.

Only two athletes were left, Ondra and rising star Toby Roberts. Ondra was making quick work of the route until he had an unexpected fall going for hold 28. “I was a bit too relaxed, and suddenly, I was off the wall,” he said on Instagram. Roberts, the final climber of the night, also suffered an unexpected fall even lower than Ondra after his left hand slipped setting up for a huge dyno. Both Ondra and Roberts looked dejected as they untied and walked off the stage. “It’s disappointing – it always hurts to fall before you felt you’ve given a fight,” said Roberts via Instagram. “It’s part of the game, and even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, the experience will do me good.”

With the final two competitors suffering unexpected slips, Schubert held his first place position and won gold. Anraku took second and Megos third.  “This field is so crazy strong,” said Schubert after his victory. “I knew I had to have the climb of my life to win this world championship title again. I feel like the Lead field is stronger than ever. The emotions are crazy right now.

“It means so much to challenge one of the craziest talents we have in the sport with Anraku Sorato. He is such an amazing climber and if I can teach him a thing or two it would make me so proud. Maybe I will tell my kids about it – I don’t have any now of course – but I can say I taught him a little bit and now he wins everything. You see also Toby [Roberts] –super strong young climbers. Coming out on top tonight ahead of them means so much to me. After being on the circuit for so long, you know even better how to live these moments, and I’m living it right now. Winning in this arena is something you never forget.”

Anraku, Schubert, and Megos on the podium. Photo by Lena Drapella/IFSC.

Women’s Results

  1. Ai Mori (TOP) [JPN]
  2. Janja Garnbret (TOP) [SLO]
  3. Chaehyun Seo (47+) [KOR]
  4. Mia Krampl (42) [SLO]
  5. Brooke Raboutou (39+) [USA]
  6. Jessica Pilz (39) [AUT]
  7. Laura Rogora (36+) [ITA]
  8. Miho Nonaka (32) [JPN]
  9. Molly Thompson-Smith (26+) [GBR]

Men’s Results

  1. Jakob Schubert (48+) [AUT]
  2. Sorato Anraku (48) [JPN]
  3. Alexander Megos (40) [GER]
  4. Dohyun Lee (39) [KOR]
  5. Ao Yurikusa (38+) [JPN]
  6. Paul Jenft (33+) [FRA]
  7. Sean Bailey (30+) [USA]
  8. Adam Ondra (27+) [CZE]
  9. Toby Roberts (20) [GBR]
  10. Yuchan Song (17) [KOR]

2023 Lead World Championship Finals

Lead photo: Jan Virt/IFSC