Janja Garnbret brought the semi-final to a close this morning. The Slovenian Olympic gold medalist once more established her dominance in the women’s field. She was not alone. Five women will join Garnbret in finals, and at least one of them has a chance of pushing her out of first position. In the end, it will come down to the difficulty of the boulders.
Despite Garnbret’s impossible prowess, American Natalia Grossman appears to climb through to her high-point in fewer attempts than the Slovenian. This hardly matters should Tops differ, but in a round of equal Tops, Grossman has an edge. In this last round, however, the International Federation of Sport Climbing unveiled a challenging set of boulder problems that only Garnbret could Top.
Grossman became the only other woman to Top the powerful W4, but even she failed to move through W3. The difficult W3 revolved around three high-powered cruxes. The major shutdown of the problem came from the last move where a large cross to bad hold required a high degree of core strength to squeeze a sloping Flathold. The negative surface seemed impossible to grasp until Garnbret stood high on the foot and brought her hips higher than her competitors’. Her powerful slap secured her finals placement as the third Top of the round.
Grossman still led as she became the first woman to Top W4. The swinging, coordination boulder offered beautiful movement asking climbers to swing their hips right to pull left and catch the second grip of the paddle with their hips open to the starting hold. Grossman at first struggled with this move, but ultimately became the first woman to send the challenging climb. Garnbret followed with a flash.
Although the remainder of the field failed to secure more than two Tops, several other climbers had strong rounds. To begin, Canada’s Madison Fischer maintained her ninth-place position. Her consistency speaks volumes and is in line with what we have come to expect from her in these last 12 months. She was out of finals by seven attempts to Top and five to Zone.
Notably, the top six saw many of the consistent boulderers from last year. Although Team USA’s Brooke Raboutou had a tough round that pushed her out of semi-finals, she remains a force for World Cups. Aside from Garnbret and Grossman, France’s Oriane Bertone continued her trend of qualifying for Meiringen World Cup finals in a podium position. The top three athletes into finals are the same as last year’s Meiringen finalists.
Bertone moved from 15 to third, just as Serbia’s Stasa Gejo moved from 15 to fourth. As the previous round had two Groups, there were pairs of athletes with the same rankings. The fact that both women came from low positions to take finals shows the developing depth of the field. With that said, both women are far from underdogs. Each offered consistent performance in last year’s World Cup Series.
Switzerland’s Andrea Kümin and Japan’s Futaba Ito each offered superior strength and ability in this last round. Kümin is certainly the darkhorse for the round and, despite a finger injury, has managed well in her home country’s competition. Ito has continued her trend of consistency from last year and will be one to watch in the upcoming competitions. Her greatest issue is not making finals but pushing into the top three. Gejo also faces this problem. With that said, Gejo is probably the most consistent athlete in finals aside from Garnbret and Grossman. This could become a strong season for the Serbian.
Garnbret has mentioned that she will choose her competitions more carefully this year and, as such, there could be room for a consistent third or second place medallist to take the World Cup Series. Still, Grossman remains in place as challenging competitor to overcome.
Finals will begin this afternoon at 11:55am EST. The Men’s semi-final and final rounds begin tomorrow morning at 5:00am EST and 11:55am EST.
Women Advancing to Finals
1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO)
2 – Natalia Grossman (USA)
3 – Oriane Bertone (FRA)
4 – Stasa Gejo (SRB)
5 – Andrea Kümin (SUI)
6 – Futaba Ito (JPN)
Featured image of Janja Garnbret by Jan Virt