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Ondra Gold Overshadowed By Contentious Separation in Women’s Final

The best in the world take home gold, but un-ideal separation overshadows the victories of these two great climbers

Finals this weekend brought separation to the forefront of competition conversation. Separation is the term used to describe the way setters break apart, or separate, the category across a route’s movements. With four women topping the final route, four women achieved the same score. This means that separation was actualized by fail-safe rules as opposed to the setting. Commentator and Serbian World Cup athlete Stasa Gejo mentioned the need for more female route setters. She seemed to suggest that their inclusion would lessen the poor separation experienced in the women’s category.

“The route setters are usually much taller than most women and maybe this is why they think, ‘Oh you cannot rest here, there is no way you could fit in this,’ but it’s just because they can’t. Definitely we lack female route setters. We need more of them. That’s definitely a fact.” – Stasa Gejo after Laura Rogora became the third woman to Top the Women’s final route.

Adam Ondra by Lena Drapella

Garnbret Wins Gold

Despite the multi-top conclusion of the final, Garnbret’s victory was absolute. She did not fall over the length of the competition. Instead, Garnbret Topped every route in qualification, semi-finals, and finals. Garnbret will return home now, and spend this 12-day interim before the Briançon World Cup, to train. As this is Garnbret’s third consecutive gold medal in Lead, the World Cup Series title is already nearly in her grasp.

Ondra Wins Gold

Czechia’s Adam Ondra spent the last eight months working and raising a family. He returned to the World Cup Circuit this weekend. He offered a result similar to Garnbret in his retaining of a top position over the length of the competition.

The significance of Ondra’s return to competition is difficult to quantify, but photographer Bjorn Phol put it nicely in an Instagram post: Climbing needs its stars. The excitement surrounding Ondra’s return expressed this sentiment as crowds turned out for this stop on the circuit.


Although many will remember this comp in Chamonix, the reasons for which they remember it may differ from competitions of the past. In a recent article, What is Good Separation in the World Cups, Gripped discussed World Cup routesetting and whether ideal results can exist.

Jessica Pilz by Lena Drapella

Separation, did occur by virtue of the rules surrounding Lead climbing, however, few would argue that the separation of the men’s field in qualifiers, or the women’s field in finals were ideal. This need for people to Top, in some ways, seems unnecessary. It is unclear why this narrative is pushed so hard among professionals in the industry.

Tops are exciting, but exciting is a qualifiable term met through multiple methods. The attraction to Tops has made it difficult for athletes to separate by the original high-point standards. While making a good versus bad qualification argument makes little sense, having four athletes climb perfectly in finals discounts the round’s value.

To climb perfectly, as Jessica Pilz did, and still not make podium detracts from the ideal. It changes the difficulty nature of the sport into a cross-round strategy. Furthermore, it seems that this is not good separation as it is never replicated with the same consistency, or to the same degree in the men’s field. Although poor separation is sometimes difficult to avoid, it is avoided with greater consistency in the men’s category. What we saw this weekend occurred last year with a frequency, and this year, poor separation described the women’s category in Innsbruck.

Gejo stated there is a need for more female routesetters. The responsibility falls on those who can train and hire female routesetters, such as gyms, national climbing federations, and the IFSC to involve women in the industry. Accessibility differs from inclusion. Inclusion requires active participation. For an interview with two female routesetters about accessibility and inclusion in setting, click here.



1 – Adam Ondra (CZE) 39+

2 – Homma Taisei (JPN) 39+

3 – Sean Bailey (USA) 29+

4 – Luka Potocar (SLO) 29+

5 – Yannick Flohé (GER) 29+

6 – Sam Avezou (FRA) 25+

7 – Hamish McArthur (GBR) 25+

8 – Sascha Lehmann (SUI) 20+

9 – Satone Yoshida (JPN) 12


1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO) Top

2 – Laura Rogora (ITA) Top

3 – Chaehyun Seo (KOR) Top

4 – Jessica Pilz (AUT) Top

5 – Natsuki Tanii (JPN) 45+

6 – Natalia Grossman (USA) 43+

7 – Brooke Raboutou (USA) 43+

8 – Mia Krampl (SLO) 37

Featured image of Janja Garnbret by Lena Drapella