The European Championships rage as 4,400 athletes from 40 nations compete across nine sports categories. The opening ceremony, held Thursday, celebrated the 50 years since Munich hosted the Olympic Games in 1972. Today, climbers celebrated the crowing of two new European Champions in Germany.
A unique competitive format hit the stage with men’s and women’s Boulder and Lead rounds oscillating across the event’s proceedings. Today’s final saw the top eight women take on Lead and the top six men take on Boulder following separate qualification and semi-final events.
Many athletes in both gender categories will compete in tomorrow’s finals as well. The women will compete in Boulder and the men will compete in Lead.
The Women’s category climbed first today, with many looking to see Slovenia’s Olympic gold medalist Janja Garnbret climb to the top of her first European Championships victory. A tight final pushed Austria’s Jessica Pilz high into the final route. Pilz climbed to a score of 45+ on this 51-hold climb. She finished within meters of the final holds.
Garnbret came out next. After her clean sweep of the IFSC Lead World Cup Series, her victory seemed likely.
With that said, the European Championships differ from the World Cup stage and Garnbret mentioned that this competition brought the most pressure she has experienced all season. In the end, Garnbret climbed to 50+, falling as she went for the final move.
“It feels amazing to tick the remaining box,” said Garnbret. “The European Championships is probably one of the hardest to win because you are expected to win it. If you can win World Cups, then people think that you should also win the European Championships. That’s how it is.
“It was definitely one of the hardest mentally to win. That’s why I’m even happier with my performance and my mentality throughout all competition.”
Pilz concluded her competition with a silver medal as French climber Manon Hily secured bronze with a score of 41+. Hily has had progressively more successful appearances on the world stage. When she lowered, she appeared disappointed with her performance. Hopefully, this indicates her potential for future events.
Mia Krampl, Aleksandra Totkova, Eliska Adamovska, Hannah Meul and Ievgeniia Kazbekova rounded out fourth through eighth in the well separated competition.
Men’s Boulder Final
Austria’s Nicolai Uznik has historically climbed well in international events, but Japan’s domination in the last Boulder World Cup Series prohibited the experienced Austrian from making a final. Today, Uznik approached the competition without the pressure of success.
“That’s one of the coolest competitions I’ve ever competed in,” said Uznik. “Especially with such a big and awesome crowd, you just want to deliver a show. That’s what I tried to do because after the first boulder I felt I couldn’t really climb anymore. So, I was thinking okay let’s enjoy this and at least put on a good show. Try to give all I have and it turned out to be pretty good.”
Uznik, Adam Ondra, and Sam Avezou each pushed hard in the semi-finals and into finals, but only Uznik could hold the lead. The results were far from decided, however, and Ondra came out last with an opportunity to secure gold on the final boulder.
“Let’s say I wasn’t born to do it,” said Ondra. “I was pretty happy how relatively close I got but nevertheless, I was still quite far away.”
After a post-Olympic sabbatical from competition, Ondra’s final today in Munich marked his second after Tokyo. He won gold in Lead in Chamonix last month and took bronze in a discipline he had not put as much focus into.
Sam Avezou finished with a silver medal, and even he could not believe his result.
“I’m very happy, but I can’t process it right now. I did my best and that was all I could do.”
Avezou’s surprise may very well come from the extremely difficult round he and all of the competitors had on their final boulders. No climber secured more than two Tops, and zero climbers topped either M1 or M4. Only France’s Mejdi Schalck managed to make Zone on M4, but it was not enough to push him onto the podium. Schalck, instead, took fourth fourth and was followed by Filip Schenk and Jernej Kruder.
1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO)
2 – Jessica Pilz (AUT)
3 – Manon Hily (FRA)
4 – Mia Krampl (SLO)
5 – Aleksandra Totkova (BUL)
6 – Eliska Adamovska (CZE)
7 – Hannah Meul (GER)
8 – Ievgeniia Kazbekova (UKR)
1 – Nicolai Uznik (AUT)
2 – Sam Avezou (FRA)
3 – Adam Ondra (CZE)
4 – Mejdi Schalck (FRA)
5 – Filip Schenk (ITA)
6 – Jernej Kruder (SLO)
Featured image of Janja Garnbret by Dimitris Tosidis.