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Janja Garnbret Returns and Colin Duffy Makes IFSC History at Innsbruck World Cup

Competition climbing's greatest athlete of all time, Janja Garnbret, returns as Team USA asserts itself as one of the world's dominant teams

Today, Janja Garnbret returned. A dominating victory at Innsbruck made for one of two incredible instances found at today’s Lead World Cup final. Joining Garnbret atop the podium, Team USA’s Colin Duffy show-cased his talents in a history making performance.

Colin Duffy by Jan Virt

Janja Garnbret Returns

After the Meiringen World Cup in early 2022, Garnbret decided to abstain from the remaining World Cup season. This news came as a shock to climbing fans who have come to admire the greatest competitive climber in history. Today, Garnbret returned, climbing on what she called the hardest route of her World Cup career. The results reflected this perspective.

A sun-baked final appeared to reduce the friction on the holds. Foot pops pushed much of the field low down the route. Garnbret managed to out-climb her peers by around 10 holds, securing a dominant victory at the Series opener. These results do not quite reflect the strength of field.

Garnbret came into this competition rested while many women in the field, including all of the top six, experiencing fatigue from the Boulder World Cup earlier in the week. The Villars World Cup, the IFSC’s next stop on the tour, may better reflect the results we expect from the women’s leading lead climbers. Regardless, Garnbret dominated today and showed the difference in her condition compared to the competition.

Team USA Breaks Through

Where many in both the men’s and women’s category felt fatigue from the Boulder World Cup, American Colin Duffy appeared unfazed. His gold medal victory in Boulder did not detract from today’s competition where he persisted longer than the rest. Duffy became the first male athlete in IFSC history to earn gold in both Boulder and Lead at the same World Cup.

Duffy struggled to find his ground in beginning of the Boulder Season but has appeared to break through this plateau. Even he appeared surprised by today’s win. Although Duffy is an impressive lead climber, teammate Jesse Grupper has on sighted up to 5.14c. He even won US Lead Nationals. The impressive pair are nearly indistinguishable in terms of ability on the wall, but Grupper tends to have an edge on all things pumpy.

Jesse Grupper by Jan Virt

Though he came within a move of Duffy’s high-point, Grupper finished with a bronze medal. He earned bronze as Ao Yurikasa tied Grupper with a score of 37+. As they tied in semi-finals, their scores were separated by time-to-highpoint. This is Grupper’s first World Cup medal ever and his first international Lead competition since 2019.

This medal became America’s third of the Lead World Cup with Brooke Raboutou earning bronze in her first competition post-sabbatical. Raboutou took the last World Cup off to refocus and train, and it appeared her efforts paid off. Teammate, World Champion, Innsbruck Boulder bold medalist and 2022 World Cup Series winner Natalia Grossman ultimately earned sixth in finals. She appeared to slide off the sun-baked holds in finals, an unsurprising result considering the intense fatigue she must have felt at the end of the Boulder World Cup season.

Setting

Although the routes themselves were wonderfully set in terms of movement and aesthetics, they failed to separate the athletes. In both the men’s and women’s category, medal positions were separated by time to the holds. This is the default. if ties occur throughout the competition. When counting back to the previous rounds results fails to separate the athletes, time-to-highpoint is used instead.

This separated the silver and bronze medals in the men’s category and the bronze medal from fourth in the women’s category. Although separation does occur this way, this method fails to commend the routesetting. When this sort of separation occurs, the discipline turns from a lead to a speed discipline, testing different skills. With five women topping the semi-finals route, proper separation in the women’s final became a high priority. Ultimately, it was only partially achieved.

Chaehyun Seo, Brooke Raboutou, and Laura Rogora each scored 27+ and were separated by time in the following manner: Seo 2:41; Raboutou 2:52; Rogora 2:57. Time-based separation occurred frequently in the women’s category last year.

Result

Women

1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO) 39+

2 – Chaehyun Seo (KOR) 27+

3 – Brooke Raboutou (USA) 27+

4 – Laura Rogora (ITA) 27+

5 – Natsuki Tanii (JPN) 25+

6 – Natalia Grossman (USA) 22

7 – Vita Lukan (SLO) 16

8 – Jessica Pilz (AUT) 8+

Men

1 – Colin Duffy (USA) 38+

2 – Ao Yurikasa (JPN) 37+

3 – Jesse Grupper (USA) 37+

4 – Luka Potocar (SLO) 37

5 – Jakob Schubert (AUT) 36+

6 – Satone Yoshida (JPN) 36+

7 – Yannick Flohé (GER) 31

8 – Alex Megos (GER) 28+

9 – Taisei Homma (JPN) 21+

Featured image of Janja Garnbret by Jan Virt.