This afternoon, Colin Duffy won gold at Innsbruck’s bouldering World Cup. The 18-year-old Olympian managed a nail-biting victory at Innsbruck, besting Japan’s two strongest boulderers. His victory today is yet one more point supporting the increasing level of the younger generation. This thought is supported by Innsbruck’s 19-year-old Korean silver medalist Dohyun Lee.
Where many Olympians took time away from climbing following the Games, Duffy doubled down. In the Lead and Boulder National Championships that followed, along with the additional Team trials that took place this year, Duffy found podium or victory across disciplines preparing the athlete for his best international season.
Following the pandemic, and the Olympics, tonight marked Duffy’s first full Boulder World Cup season. Although he failed to make podium before tonight’s event, Duffy edged close to the podium at Meiringen taking fifth after an incredible display of resistance. In that event, Duffy climbed one boulder three times to earn the Top.
Although he found this frustrating, it proved Duffy capable of competing at the highest level. Today he proved that he could also win. Duffy finished his competition with three Tops and four Zones, using creative beta on all of the final boulders.
Even M2, a boulder that did not receive a Top, saw Duffy figure-four, under tension, in a slightly overhung version of this otherwise under-used move. He will compete in Lead on June 25.
2 – Dohyun Lee
The 19-year-old Korean was introduced as the brother to teammate Jongwon Chon in conversation earlier this week. This denoted the fact that the Lees supported Chon through his early years in climbing. The close friends both made finals today, but Lee pushed into silver as the first athlete to solve the cryptic M3. Intended as a later jump into press, Lee saw a different method. He swung and jumped high onto the sloping volumes securing the little gib mounted to the wall. He earned Zone, and the lead, before carrying on to the Top where his lead was further solidified.
Although he lost that lead to Duffy, Lee had a progressive season securing fourth at the Brixen final. He joined Duffy, France’s Paul Jenft and Mejdi Schalck, along with Great Britain’s Hamish McArthur as the next generation of hyper-attuned male athletes.
3 – Yoshiyuki Ogata
Although many might have predicted Ogata to excel on M4, Japan’s most consistent competitor appeared powered out in the final movements of the climb. Despite “only” earning bronze, Ogata will go home tonight having made every Boulder World Cup final from the last season. Ogata earned medals in five of the six last world Cups and easily swept the men’s category as the World Cup Series winner.
The World Cup Series winner is the athlete who climbs best across all World Cups. Without a doubt, Ogata earned that title. His consistency in this Series is something we have not seen in years, including last year’s World Cup Series. Although athletes such as Ondra and Narasaki are known for their generally dominant performance, Ogata showed up to each of the events this year, a fact unreciprocated by last year’s leaders. To do so, and to perform at so high a level is incredible. Nobody has competed in as many Boulder World Cup rounds this year as Ogata.
4 – Jongwon Chon
Although Chon fell short of medals this season, the Korean powerhouse climbed well. He made two finals this year and finished this competition with a flash of M4. Few operate at such a frequency and though he failed to secure a medal, his indomitable strength put him closer to the Top of M2 than any other athlete in the field.
5 – Kokoro Fujii
The strong man from Japan walked away with fifth this evening, but his performance this season reflected his World Champion status. Although he did not climb with the consistency of Ogata, Fujii brought the pressure to the podium and secured one gold medal, one bronze, and four total finals appearances. Today, Fujii appeared unable to really use his strength-based talents in this technique heavy round.
6 – Yannick Flohé
In this, his third World Cup final of 2022, Flohé could not bring his strength. Much like Fujii, the technical boulder problems favoured route reading and performance over power, giving Flohé little opportunity to flourish. With that said, he competed with ever greater consistency, earning gold at Brixen just over a week ago.
The women’s semi-final begins tomorrow at 7:00am ET here.
Featured image of Colin Duffy by Jan Virt.