Late this morning, the third event of the 2022 Boulder World Cup Series began in Salt Lake City, Utah. 69 men divided into two categories, each with their own sets of boulders. Both category A and Category B climbed five boulder problems unique to their subgroups with the goal of placing in the top 10. The sum of these groups’ top 10 competitors form tomorrow’s semi-finalists.
Already the competition is off to a rapid start with a detraction from the Japanese domination we saw in Seoul, Korea. To begin, the Americans had four qualify to Japan’s five. The US always tends to compete well in Salt Lake City, and this morning was no different. In fact, four Americans and one Canadian moved on to tomorrow’s semi-final from the men’s category. Perhaps more surprisingly, those that will move on differ from the teams’ conventional favourites.
In the U.S., Olympian Colin Duffy has become the most consistent male competitor. His trend of making semi-finals faltered this morning as he qualified just one spot out of semis. Duffy appeared to maintain a clear perspective on the matter and has already pivoted toward next week’s competition.
For locals, this Boulder World Cup double-header gives space for second chances as both Speed and Boulder will repeat this coming weekend. Competing for Team Canada, Guy McNamee will need no second chance to make a Boulder semi-final. The BC local climbed an excellent competition, ultimately securing three Tops and five Zones for 15 position. He did so in four attempts to Top and five to Zone in a round where attempts were a decisive indicator of placement.
As tomorrow’s semi-final will be his first, McNamee will have the advantage of limited pressure. However well he does tomorrow will speak well of the young athlete’s progression. If, however, he can maintain consistency, McNamee possesses the strength to make a final. For Canadians, tomorrow’s semi-final will be worth watching for McNamee alone.
With that said, there are other reasons to tune in tomorrow. To begin, the men’s field has a greater variety of competitors than we have seen in the last two World Cups. Although Team Japan had five men qualify for semis, only Tomoa Narasaki qualified in the top six.
His performance placed him first for the round and tied with Germany’s Yannick Flohé. Famous for his MoonBoard prowess, Flohé’s result here today follows a relatively successful European Cup season. If he can hold on to his top placement through semis, Flohé stands a strong chance of making podium.
Still, Fujii Kokoro will also strive to push back to the podium, only just out of the top six with a seventh-place qualification. Seoul bronze medalist Yoshiyuki Ogata is also in at ninth, while French climber Mejdi Schalck retains his consistent semi-final performance between World Cups.
Although France’s Paul Jenft is somewhat new to World Cup finals, his presence almost became expected. His missing semi-s by four places today surprised, but also shows the difficulty of consistency at this level of competition.
With all of that said, the Americans look ready for an exceptional competition. Leading for the men, 2021 Salt Lake City gold medalist Sean Bailey qualified for semis in third and will look to repeat his performance from last year. A poor result in Seoul did not appear to shake the competitor’s head.
Also from the United States, Charles Barron, Simon Hibbeler and Ross Fulkerson earned 11, 13 and 13 respectively with that final tie resulting from Hibbeler and Fulkerson competing in different categories.
This makes the first Boulder World Cup semi-final for all three Americans, and exciting result given that they will compete in front of a home crowd. Additionally, Great Britain’s Max Milne and Youth World Champion Hamish McArthur qualified for semis today providing a stacked field of young athletes.
Although he has yet to make a podium this year, Olympic gold medalist Alberto Ginés López has climbed into fifth position and will look to make his first Boulder final of 2022. Although many will consider Ginés López more of a route climber, he made the Seoul semi-finals and certainly boasts exceptional experience despite his younger age.
Semi-finals will begin May 22 at 12:55pm ET.
Men Advancing to Semis
1 – Yannick Flohé (GER)
1 – Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)
3 – Sean Bailey (USA)
3 – Nicolai Uznik (AUT)
5 – Alberto Ginés López (ESP)
5 – Maximillian Milne (GBR)
7 – Kokoro Fujii (JPN)
7 – Alex Khazanov (ISR)
9 – Mejdi Schalck (FRA)
9 – Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN)
11 – Rei Kawamata (JPN)
11 – Charles Barron (USA)
13 – Simon Hibbeler (USA)
13 – Ross Fulkerson (USA)
15 – Guy McNamee (CAN)
15 – Anze Peharc (SLO)
15 – Jacob Schubert (AUT)
18 – Max Kleesattel (GER)
19 – Hamish McArthur (GBR)
19 – Keita Dohi (JPN)
Featured image of Guy McNamee by Oscar Baudrand.