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Janja Garnbret Might Not Win

The Men's Final showed the significance of Speed Climbing, while Women's Qualification presented Seo's strength. Who will win?

With the end of the Men’s Final, all eyes turn toward the Women’s field. All media outlets have predicted Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret to take the win in Tokyo, but after today’s event, few will boast so bold as to presume any particular outcome.

Janja Garnbret – Photo by Leo Zhukov

With a double upset this morning, both Adam Ondra and Tomoa Narasaki will go home empty handed despite their incredible level. In the end, it was Speed that decided the competition. How might this affect the Women’s Field?

Mawem’s absence dramatically changed the landscape of men’s final

To begin, the situation between the Men’s and Women’s fields differ from one another. The greatest reason for this comes from the inclusion of Speed specialists in the Women’s Final. Although France’s Bassa Mawem did fit the role for the Men’s Final, his inability to compete greatly affected the results of the round.

In his absence, Ondra climbed into fourth position automatically. Had Mawem raced Ondra, Mawem would have won and then competed against Alberto Ginés López. Needless to say, Mawem would have likely won that race as well. In fact, Mawem would have likely won the event. This would have pushed Narasaki to second and Ginés López to fourth. It also would have given Ginés López a combined score of 112. This would have place him in eighth for the combined ranking. Mawem would have still earned 64 points by taking first in Speed and coming eight in Lead and Boulder.

As such, the value of a first-place position in Speed cannot be overstated. Ginés López won the Games after placing seventh in Boulder and fourth in Lead. That Speed result simply pushed him ahead of the rest.

Miho Nonaka – Photo by Leo Zhukov

In the Women’s field, two Speed specialists will compete in Finals. This is significant as it almost assure the other six athletes a minimum ranking of sixth in Lead and Boulder. With that said, Anouck Jaubert could become competitive for bronze if she won Speed and cam seventh in Lead and seventh in Boulder. Miroslaw does climb faster than Jaubert, however, so this might not occur.

With that said, the best Speed climber does not necessarily become the person that wins the Speed event. Japan’s Miho Nonaka posted a 7.55 second run in Qualifiers. That speed would easily defeat any climber that slips on their run. Nonaka’s head game almost guarantees that she will climb without slipping.

To that effect, Garnbret’s Speed result certainly affects the outcome of the competition. Only Korea’s Chaehyun Seo climbed slower than Garnbret in Speed yesterday. As such, if results were to stay the same as in Qualification, Garnbret’s score would have her seventh in Speed, first in Boulder and fourth in Lead. This would produce a score of 28 which would likely put her on the podium, however, It would not guarantee gold.

If Nonaka were to earn first in Speed, and her Lead and Boulder results remained the same as yesterday (in terms of relative placement among the finalists), her score of 1x5x3=15 would put her in strong contention for first position. For this result to occur, the speed specialists would have to falter, but as we saw today, the faster athlete can easily make a mistake.

Janja Garnbret – Photo by Daniel Gajda

Realistically, it seems unreasonable to presume that both Speed athletes would falter. Perhaps the most Nonaka can hope for in Speed is second position. If Nonaka earned second position in Speed, fifth in Boulder and third in Lead, she would end up with a score of 30. This would lose to Garnbret. That said, it presumes that Nonaka cannot do better than fifth in Boulder. Even if she got fourth in Boulder, that would put her ahead of Garnbret.

With that said, Garnbret’s relatively poor Lead performance yesterday may not speak toward the Slovenian’s combined ability. Should Garnbret climb any better in Lead tomorrow, it would become difficult for any athlete to surpass her. If Nonaka did happen upon first in Speed, however, she would almost guarantee herself gold for the competition. That is how significant that position can be.

Chaehyun Seo could play the role of spoiler

Furthermore, Chaehyun Seo could be in contention for gold if she manages a second or third place finish in Boulder. Presuming that Seo earns eighth in Speed, for she is a couple seconds slower than the remainder of the field, and first in Lead, as she won by such a huge margin two days ago, then an improvement to her bouldering score could make her extremely competitive. Given the same results as yesterday, but with a third-place finish in Boulder, Seo could walk away from the event with a score of 24, pushing ahead of Garnbret’s projected performance.

It ultimately becomes a question of what will likely occur. Reasonably, Garnbret will win gold because she will win Boulder and will likely improve her score in Lead. The athlete won both of the Lead World Cups she participated in this year. This provides a consistency that remains unshaken by yesterday’s event. Even if Seo did ultimately defeat Garnbret in Lead, a third place finish in the event for Garnbret would make her difficult to beat.

Chaehyun Seo – Photo by Leo Zhukov