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Innsbruck Bouldering World Cup Showcases Brooke Raboutou

The women's field becomes increasingly difficult to separate, while the men's field sees the return of Jongwon Chon

Early this morning, 40 athletes across two categories qualified for the Bouldering Semi-Final in Innsbruck. The Qualification event featured two groups for both categories. This event follows the Qualification round of 2021’s first Lead World Cup which concluded yesterday morning.

Miho Nonaka by Daniel Gajda

These next few days will see disciplines oscillate between Lead and Boulder. Tomorrow, the Lead Semi-Final and Final will take place, while June 26 will find a podium among these qualified athletes.

Although this oscillation does allow for little consistent rest, a single try on a lead route only offers so much in the way of physical stress. This came across in the results today, as the top of the Bouldering fields for both men and women greatly reflected the Lead results. That, in itself, shows how multi-discipline many of these athletes have become in preparation for Tokyo.

Several weeks ago, Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret took second by attempts to Team USA’s Natalia Grossman in Salt Lake City. Garnbret has since secured first position.  She qualified in first position heading into Semi-Finals in both Lead and Boulder. As the only woman to climb all five boulders in group one, she appears almost as an unstoppable force.

In group two, Team USA’s Brooke Raboutou took first position. Raboutou has offered steadily more consistent results over the course of this season. Although her last European World Cup in Switzerland had Raboutou out of Finals, her strong results in Salt Lake City, alongside her second-place qualification in Innsbruck suggests the American Olympian is improving.

Brooke Raboutou by Daniel Gajda

As a climber that has already approached the top of her field, this steady increase 30 days out from the Olympics offers an exciting result to American fans.  In addition, Natalia Grossman appears on form as always, taking second to Garnbret by a single top. Team Japan’s Akiyo Noguchi took third behind Raboutou finidhing her round with one less top than the American.

While Team France’s Oriane Bertone only just squeeked into Semi-Finals, this result reflects most of her World Cups where Bertone fails to qualify high in the first round. Naturally, this does not hold Bertone from regularly walking the podium. Still, she has never qualified this low in the first round. It will become interesting to see whether she can pull it out once again.

Italy’s Laura Rogara will become one of the more interesting athletes to watch in this upcoming semi-final. Yesterday, Rogara qualified for the Lead Semi-Final in second. The Lead specialist normally has trouble making Finals in Bouldering. Her 7th place position heading into Bouldering Semis might suggest the Italian has what it takes to make her first Bouldering Final of 2021. If she could do that, her result would speak volumes for her chances in the upcoming Olympics.

Furthermore, Miho Nonaka also remains consistent. Her strong Speed result in Salt Lake, making Semi-Finals in Lead yesterday and her fifth place qualification heading into the Bouldering Semi-Final, puts her near the top of the pack in both all disciplines. It will become interesting to see whether that will take her to Finals in Tokyo.

While the Women’s category always offers an interesting result as the top of the field approaches Garnbret’s consistency, the Men’s field brought an equally exciting round of rankings.

To begin, Team Japan dominated in both groups. With that said, Czech climber Adam Ondra did not compete. While Ondra did climb in yesterday’s Lead round, it would appear that his ambitions more closely align with winning than practicing his bouldering in another World Cup. This appears fair due to the fact that he has dominated the last two Bouldering World Cups that he did compete in.

With that said, he may not have decided to compete due to a small injury he sustained in the first of the two Bouldering World Cups in Salt Lake City. This seems less likely, however, due to the fact that he still competed in Lead which can offer many bouldery sequences.

Kokoro Fujii by Daniel Gajda

Returning to Team Japan, Yoshiyuki Ogata qualified in first for Saturday’s Semi-Final round. Ogata has offered almost unchecked power over these last World Cups and this presented again this morning. Ogata has had issue with retaining his first-place position due to fatigue or unfortunate mistakes in the later rounds. He will hopefully climb his best this weekend. If he does, he will become extremely difficult to defeat. Jakob Schubert joins Ogata in first position in the second group.

Although Olympian Kai Harada has not seen very much success in Japan’s local competitions or in the World Cup Circuit this last year, the Olympian pulled out a phenomenal seventh position, securing four tops and five zones. He also made semi-finals yesterday. Hopefully he too will show the world what it means to be an Olympian for one of climbing’s strongest countries.

Although Ogata did take first position with five tops and five zones, he shares his result with teammate Kokoro Fujii and Korea’s Jongwon Chon. This competition is the first Bouldering World Cup Chon has participated in since before the pandemic. Korea’s Olympian offers an incredible amount of strength and an incredible history in his rapid rise to strength. Many will appreciate his qualifying so well.

Rei Sugimoto by Daniel Gajda

Among the top ten, the rankings find some other usual suspects. Tomoa Narasaki and Sohta Amagasa each took third in their groups. In total, Team Japan will take seven men and five women to Semi-Finals.

While the top 10 climbers do see numerous star-studded names, the bottom 10 also offer an incredibly strong mix of climbers. Alex Megos squeaked into Semi-Finals, and American Olympians Colin Duffy and Nathaniel Coleman will join him.

A French climber worth noting is the young Mejdi Schalck who took second in Salt Lake City’s first Bouldering World Cup.

Ultimately, it will become exciting to see what happens in the Semi-Final and Final rounds of competition. Semi-Finals will begin at 3:55 am EST while Finals will begin at the far more reasonable 11:55 am EST.

The Lead Semi-Final begin tomorrow at 3:55 am EST, you can watch it here. The Final will begin at 1:55 pm EST, you can watch it here.

Men Advancing to the Semi-Final:

1 : Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN)

1 : Jakob Schubert (AUT)

3 : Kokoro Fujii (JPN)

3 : Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)

3 : Sohta Amagasa (JPN)

6 : Jongwon Chon (KOR)

7 : Kai Harada (JPN)

7 :  Mickael Mawem (FRA)

9 : Rei Sugimoto (JPN)

9 : Nicolai Uznik (AUT)

11 : Aleksey Rubtsov (RUS)

11 : Jan Hojer (GER)

13 : Anze Peharc (SLO)

13 : Mejdi Schalck (FRA)

15 : Tomoaki Takata (JPN)

15 : Colin Duffy (USA)

17 : Yannick Flohé (GER)

17 : Simon Lorenzi (BEL)

19 : Nathaniel Coleman (USA)

19 : Alex Megos (GER)

Women Advancing to the Semi-Final:

1: Janja Garnbret (SLO)

1: Brooke Raboutou (USA)

3: Akiyo Noguchi (JPN)

3: Natalia Grossman (USA)

5: Mao Nakamura (JPN)

5: Miho Nonaka (JPN)

7: Laura Rogara (ITA)

7: Stasa Gejo (SRB)

9: Julia Chanourdie (FRA)

9: Johanna Färber (AUT)

11: Chloe Caulier (BEL)

11: Futaba Ito (JPN)

13: Nanako Kura (JPN)

13: Andrea Kumin (SUI)

15: Kylie Cullen (USA)

15: Petra Klinger (SUI)

17: Katja Debevec (SLO)

17: Sandra Lettner (AUT)

19: Oriane Bertone (FRA)

29: Franziska Sterrar (AUT)

Featured Image of Tomoa Narasaki by Daniel Gajda.