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Miho Nonaka Leads Grossman into Semis

The Japanese Olympic silver medalist Miho Nonaka is back on top, and leading the women's field into tomorrow's semi-final

The final event of the Salt Lake City triple-header began this morning with bouldering in the women’s category. 53 women were divided into categories A and B, with each category competing on a unique series of five boulder problems.

With only 20 available spots for the semi-final, the competition in qualifiers is always fierce. Today was no different. Of the 20 women qualified for semi-finals, nine topped five of their five boulders. Although it is common for one or two people to top all five qualifying problems in a round, it is unusual to have many climbers do so.

Much like last week’s qualification round, women’s qualifier was a high-top round that utilized attempts to separate the oncoming athletes. Atop the field was Japan’s Miho Nonaka. She returns to the podium positions after her bronze medal finish in last week’s World Cup. The Japanese competitor struggled to start her season in the Meiringen and Seoul World Cups, but rallied hard in last week’s competition.

At one point, Nonaka was the only athlete that could contest Slovenian Olympic gold medalist Janja Garnbret on the Boulder World Cup Circuit. At 25 years old, Nonaka could continue to improve on the circuit, though besting dominant athletes such as Natalia Grossman and Janja Garnbret in finals seems unlikely. Still, in each of her last world cups Nonaka has improved dramatically. If she were to continue that trend in tomorrow’s semi-final and final, she could prove dangerous to Grossman.

Joining Nonaka, Germany’s Afra Hönig came back from her 18 place finish in last week’s competition. She qualified in first with Nonaka. Hönig has never made a Boulder World Cup final before but climbed all five problems today in six attempts. She bested her competitors by two attempts to Top.

Outside these two performances, many of the IFSC’s strongest can be found at the top of the women’s qualifying field. This includes America’s Natalia Grossman and Brooke Raboutou, as well as Austria’s Franziska Sterrer and France’s Oriane Bertone. Sterrer has climbed well this season and will hope to make podium tomorrow night. Doing so will require beating the consistent climbing of Jessica Pilz, Camilla Moroni, and Stasa Gejo. With that said, Gejo has had trouble pushing into the higher spots recently.

Although the above athletes appear best qualified to take the podium in the upcoming event, the depth of the women’s field cannot be overstated. Americans Cloe Coscoy and Kylie Cullen each boast abilities that could place them in finals. These two are joined by Japan’s Futaba Ito and Nanako Kura who each seems close to break through seasons.

The semi-final will begin tomorrow at 1:00pm ET.

Advancing to Semis

1 – Afra Hönig (GER)

1 – Miho Nonaka (JPN)

3 – Franziska Sterrer (AUT)

3 – Natalia Grossman (USA)

3 – Oriane Bertone (FRA)

3 – Ayala Kerem (ISR)

7 – Jessica Pilz (AUT)

8 – Brooke Raboutou (USA)

9 – Chaehyun Seo (KOR)

9 – Futaba Ito (JPN)

11 – Camilla Moroni (ITA)

11 – Stasa Gejo (SRB)

13 – Jennifer Wood (GBR)

13 – Holly Toothill (GBR)

15 – Kylie Cullen (USA)

15 – Cloe Coscoy (USA)

17 – YueTong Zhang (CHN)

17 – Nanako Kura (JPN)

19 – Gayeong Oh (KOR)

19 – Giorgia Tesio (ITA)

Featured image of Miho Nonaka by Daniel Gajda.