This afternoon gave way to one of the most exciting bouldering finals of the last year. The event saw the end of the Women’s Boulder World Championship in Moscow along with a new Boulder World Champion.
The event began with Serbia’s Stasa Gejo. Despite her sixth-place qualification, Gejo’s increasing consistency over these last months have made her into a world-class competitor. She began W1 with a strong burn that took her through the Zone of the powerful, volume-based problem.
Pausing briefly on the sloping zone, Stasa swung her leg to pogo through the dynamic triple-Flathold sequence. Sticking the first two with a little too much swing, her hips took her off the wall before she came down on the matts. Preparing for a second go, Gejo struggled to make it past her original high point before her time expired.
The physical method she chose for the first sequence appeared too exhausting to maintain. It also set the stage for American Brooke Raboutou to take first position. Hiking her feet high, Raboutou stood through the powerful gaston, saving energy before falling in the same way as Gejo.
Pausing, Raboutou reassessed and made her way back through the Zone. Despite her shorter stature, Raboutou managed to almost static the move to the first Flathold with a semi-dynamic toe-hook catch that set her up for the finish. Unhooking the toe, Raboutou released all four points to catch the final two holds before securing the finish.
Although Raboutou did take the lead, Grossman passed her teammate with a flash of W1. Instead of completing the boulder problem in the same way as Italy’s Camilla Moroni, Grossman forwent the dynamic one-two-three sequence, instead throwing over her body to catch the left hand. She held the swing and secured the lead.
After not completing W1, Gejo likely felt pressure stepping onto W2. Although the competitors do not talk about whether they topped, the cheers of the crowd often suggest whether a person may have sent the problem. Likely knowing that she sat behind four of her competitors, W2 brought pressure.
The delicate, pseudo-slab pulled Gejo off the wall as her foot slipped on a featureless prism. Working her way up a massive semi-circle, Gejo pressed and pulled into the subsequent gaston, falling once again on the high-tension sequence. Perturbed, but unbeaten, Gejo grit her teeth through the gaston. Pulling herself into a lay-back on the powerful corner, she stood and moved through the finishing sequence. Gejo took the lead.
Not to be outdone, Raboutou took to the delicate and powerful feature, pulling through the Zone on her first attempt. After maneuvering her way through the gaston, Raboutou prepared for the finish. Feeling insecure, she returned to the gaston. Raboutou rested taking two minutes on her flash attempt. Pulling back up on the sloping foot, she rocked over committing to a leaning move that secured her flash of W2.
Switzerland’s Andrea Kümin worked her way through the Zone but fell on the final crux toward the finish. Although she would walk away empty handed, Kümin’s first Finals, here in Moscow, has come at a pivotal time.
The significance of the World Championships only became more pronounced as the round progressed. Russia’s Elena Krasovskaia entered the field and upon making it near the top, through her foot high and wide to the finish to press through her foot. She hand-foot matched, moved feet back over to the right and secured the Top. After not making Zone on W1, her result here put her back in the running for podium. Still, surmounting the others’ leads would be difficult.
Both Moroni and Grossman went on to flash W2, showing the disparate level of their ability compared to the rest of the field. With Raboutou, Grossman and Moroni each well within range of gold, Gejo stepped onto W3.
The challenging almost-vertical coordination dyno provided a fast start to a balance-based slab. Falling half-way along the slab, Gejo changed her right shoe for something with a rounded toe and more pronounced edge. Coming close to the finish, Gejo fell again, and switched the other shoe ultimately punting the problem.
This became Raboutou’s opportunity to secure podium, but without the vertical height in her jump, she could not quite make Zone. This set her back in the field. In another round on a different day her two tops might have been enough, but Krasovskaia had found her stride making a top of W3.
Now tied with Raboutou, it came down to problem four to ascertain podium. The focus then shifted to Moroni and Grossman on their attempts of the technical problem. Moroni had trouble, taking several attempts before landing the finish with less the 15 seconds on the clock.
Unshaken, Grossman took to the field and fell. She fell again, somewhat surprising audiences after her previous flashes of both W1 and W2. In the end, Grossman determined how to make the coordination move and appeared to breeze through the concluding sequence.
Gejo took to the matts once more, nearly flashing the powerful Zone move on W4. A full-on one-handed swing greeted her on her second attempt. Gejo completed the cruxy end sequence with a decisive finishing move.
Although ranked sixth heading into Finals, it did not seem obvious that everyone else would climb the problem. In the end, only Moroni and Grossman joined Gejo on the finish.
Although Moroni did take silver to Grossman on attempts, her performance in finals could speak to a new leader in Boulder. Moroni did take several attempts, and quite a lot of time to climb each of the four problems, but four tops in semis and four tops in finals speak for themselves.
Grossman’s achievement as the new Boulder World Champion comes after a masterful season in the World Cup circuit. While Raboutou might have wanted to perform better than she did in the day’s event, her progress this year also cannot go ignored. The two Americans have shown exceptional development.
While their progress speaks well of Team USA, Gejo’s lone performance also concludes the competition as an important take-away. She has improved consistently perpetually. Taking bronze in Moscow can only mean good things for the Serbian going forward.
1 – Natalia Grossman
2 – Camilla Moroni
3 – Stasa Gejo
4 – Elena Krasovskaia
5 – Brooke Raboutou
6 – Andrea Kümin
Featured image of Natalia Grossman by Dimitris Tosidis.