The first boulder final of the 2022 IFSC World Cup Series concluded this afternoon. Although most would have predicted Garnbret to take the win, the competition remained surprising in the sheer difficulty of the Women’s boulders.
While the distance between Garnbret and Grossman seems to have remained the same, both athletes appeared to abscond from the remainder of the field in their pursuit of progression. The Meiringen setters certainly pushed both women hard, with Grossman walking away with three Tops and Four Zones to Garnbret’s four Tops and Four Zones.
Garnbret did not flash all four boulder problems. Instead, she took five attempts to complete these boulders. Grossman took eight attempts to tick her three boulders, offering the first piece of evidence toward the difficult of the round. The lower portion of the field cemented that difficulty with both third and fourth placed athletes Andrae Kümin and Oriane Bertone securing their positions with one Top and two Zones a piece.
These two athletes were separated by attempts and had strong movement on the wall. It seemed as though the front runners continued to improve in the of- season at a rate distant from the remainder of the field. With that said, both of these competitors offered a lot of on-the-wall mental strength, perhaps allowing for easier access to their try hard in this first comp of the season.
Many World Cup athletes take a competition to find their footing, and so we could see climbers like Oriane Bertone perform especially well later on in the season. Bertone appeared to have improved her power since last season, all while retaining her superior technical ability. Still, the ever-technical climber likely needed a little more power to flourish in this round, often appearing short on her dead-points.
If not for a bloody knee on W1, the French prodigy may have taken third place with a Top of W1, but her injuries appeared difficult to manage and extremely distracting on that first boulder problem.
Kümin, to her credit, fought through a finger injury to find third place on the podium after the preceding rounds. Perhaps the home crowd provided her the gusto she needed to push further into the Top of the field, but her efforts did not go unnoticed. She climbed well and it will be interesting to see if she can recover from her injury or if the competition overcooked it. Her consistency has become the new question for the Swiss athlete.
In line with finger injuries, Serbia’s Stasa Gejo had a tough final, just missing her marks on each of the four boulder problems. Although she walked away without a Top, she made finals in this, the first World Cup of the season, and showed how a little better luck might push the consistent climber to higher ranks in future finals.
Gejo appeared to tweak her finger on the dynamic W2 but was able to continue on the less finger intensive boulders. Hopefully she survived this competition without injury. Finally, Japan’s Futaba Ito finished fifth, a place above Gejo with one more Zone than the Serbian. Ito looked strong today and nearly topped but lost the race against the clock. She seems like she could become incredibly strong this season if she can manage a little more competition fitness coming into the next World Cup next month.
Tomorrow, the men’s semi-final begins at 5:00am EST and the final begins at 9:55am EST.
1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO)
2 – Natalia Grossman (USA)
3 – Andrea Kümin (SUI)
4 – Oriane Bertone (FRA)
5 – Futaba Ito (JPN)
6 – Stasa Gejo (SRB)
Featured image by Jan Virt.