The men’s final event of this weekend’s Boulder World Cup concluded in Meiringen this afternoon. The four problem round featured some of the most challenging men’s final blocs since Tokyo, with the Gold medalist securing only two Tops.
The round opened with a series of Tops from all of the male finalists excluding American Olympian Colin Duffy. Although Duffy reached the Top of the problem three times over the course of his four minutes, the height and reach disparity between him and the rest of the field made the final press too challenging for the American to control. Although the problem would have been possible if he had been stronger, he was the only athlete of the six that could not hit the left corner of the final hold while reaching the problem’s helpful right foot.
This began Duffy’s trial of near misses. On M2, the American became the first to find a way to the Zone on a tricky looking crack problem. By moving past the crack, Duffy jumped into a squeeze and traversed right before punting the Top. He could not finish the problem.
On M3, Duffy struggled to secure the start. He reflected most of the men’s field in this regard and only managed to find his way to the Top after numerous attempts at the start. After securing the first move after establishing, Duffy looked to the judges to ensure his attempt would count. They confirmed that it did. he then finished the problem.
Someone challenged his attempt after he left the field and the judges determined the Duffy should try again. With two minutes on the clock, he returned to the mats. He sent the problem again and looked for confirmation. Everything seemed well, so time passed and he waited. Another challenge was issued and, with 30 seconds on the clock, Duffy returned to the start of M3. He appeared frustrated that it took so long to receive ascent confirmation and that they did not call him off the wall. Shaking his head, Duffy established again and sent the climb for a third time. The exhausting effort earned massive support from the crowd and he earned the point.
Finally, on the fourth and final boulder problem Duffy carried his way through to the end of the bloc before slipping on a final powerful move to a dual textured sloper. In the end, he could not secure the finish and ended his round in fifth. Despite his series of heartbreakers, Duffy showed incredible strength and resolve.
While Duffy’s story did leave the audience with a feeling of disbelief, gold medal winner Tomoa Narasaki led an equally exciting competition. Although he flashed M1, Narasaki quickly slipped to last place by the time he exited boulder three. On M4, Narasaki pulled out all of the stops and in two attempts, and climbed five positions after not securing Zone on the previous problem.
Yoshiyuki Ogata took second and Mejdi Schalck took third, an exciting conclusion for the young 17-year-old French climber.
Two takeaways stood out from yesterday’s event. The first: teenaged competitors Mejdi Schalck, Paul Jenft, and Colin Duffy are forces on the World Cup stage. The second: route setting continues to develop. Meiringen is always a sit rep for the World Cup season and this afternoon showed that the setting will further develop in 2022. It has also continued the trend of hard men’s finals from last year’s season.
Featured image of Tomoa Narasaki by Jan Virt
1 – Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)
2 – Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN)
3 – Mejdi Schalck (FRA)
4 – Paul Jenft (FRA)
5 – Colin Duffy (USA)
6 – Kokoro Fujii (JPN)