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Paraclimbing World Cup Features Untouchable Athletes

The French Team dominates in Briançon; however, the number of back-to-back gold medals across Paraclimbing sport classes was the greatest surprise.

On Thursday, the second Paraclimbing World Cup of 2021 concluded with strong performances from the French athletes. While Germany, Spain, and Austria also found themselves with three medals a piece, France would walk away with six. Four of these were gold.

Image by Jan Virt

A total of 83 athletes competed in the event representing 14 countries across nine sport classes. Sport classes refer to the impairment that the athlete climbs with and is further restricted by gender categories.

According to the IFSC’s press release, the event opened with the finals of the blind classes. In order to complete the route, athletes must listen to their guides’ instructions. As such, the Parc Des Sports where the competition took place descended into silence. “The men’s B3 event saw two Romanian climbers take the top two positions, with reigning World Champion Cosmin Florian Candoi securing gold, and Razvan Nedun winning silver. The podium was completed by Italy’s Simone Salvagnin, who finished in third place.”

In the Women’s field, Austria’s Edith Scheinecker walked away with gold, making for back-to-back victories following her performance in Innsbruck three weeks ago. Italy’s Michelle Corti and Slovenia’s Tanja Glusic joined the Italian on the podium taking silver and bronze respectively.

Although the French team did not have athletes in these first two events, they would begin to reign over the remainder of the competition. Silence lifting, athletes and coaches alike joined together to support their teammates on their routes.

Image by Jan Virt

In the AL2 sport class, seating and leg amputees competed for a shot at gold. French athlete Thierry Delarue would not give up his first placed position from Innsbruck and, like Scheinecker, matched his result from the first Paraclimbing World Cup. Delarue took home gold with three holds and a move beyond Spain’s Urko Carmona Barandiaran. Barandiaran would join his teammate Iván Germán Pascual on the podium as the Spaniards took silver and bronze respectively.

The World Cup then closed with a range of RP sport classes in which mobility impaired athletes faced off in categories described by the description of that impairment.

Angeline Zeller would secure his second gold of the season for Austria in the RP1 sport class. Germany’s Korbinan Franck and Sebastian Depke would solicit second and third respectively. Although Depke may have scored beneath the other podiumed athletes here, Briançon became his first medaled event and suggests that he might attain greater prominence in the events later this season.

That in itself is exciting, however, the RP2 sport class featured another level of competition. “In the men’s RP2 class, what was probably one of the most anticipated duels eventually came down to the wire: both France’s Bastien Thomas and Israel’s Mor Michael Sapir, in fact,  topped the final route, and with both climbers paired at the end of qualification, Thomas won gold for clipping the highest quickdraw in a shorter time. The bronze medal went to Kevin Bartke of Germany.”

Image by Jan Virt

Such a result suggests that the route setters should produce more difficult climbs for these elite athletes. This occurred again in RP3, although countbacks separated the field as opposed to the time-to-quickdraw separation of RP2.

“Similarly, in the men’s RP3 class, Romain Paignoux and Mathieu Besnard – both representing France – finished with a top, although, in this case, the gold went to Paignoux, who had a better placement in the qualification round. Besnard, gold medalist in Innsbruck, placed second, with Iman Edrisi of Iran concluding in third position.”

In the women’s field, Belgian athlete Pavitra Vandenhoven won her second gold medal of the season. She preceded Dutch climber Eva Mol and Spain’s Marta Peche Salinero who took second and third respectively. Her consistency, along with the consistency of those athletes who have retained their gold medal positions across World Cups show another level of performance compared to the rest of the field.

As with Sean Bailey, Janja Garnbret, or Adam Ondra, consistency describes the most proficient athletes.

Image by Jan Virt

“The fourth gold medal won by the French national team was signed by multi-decorated athlete Solenne Piret – 2019 IFSC World Champion in Briançon – who secured her second consecutive gold of the season.”

Piret and would precede her peers in RP2. Austrian Jasmin Plank and Italian Lucia Capovilla would finish with silver and bronze medals respectively.

Finally, the RP3 category concluded the competition with the Netherland’s securing their first and only gold of the competition. “The young Dutch athlete, who won silver previously this year, sealed her first position with a top, besting silver medal winner Lucie Jarrige of France, and bronze medal winner Elisa Martin of Italy.”

With the conclusion of the competition, many athletes have turned their heads toward the Paraclimbing World Championship. The event will take place in Moscow from September 15 to 22. The 2021 Paraclimbing World Cup season will conclude around three weeks later in Los Angeles on October 9 through 10.

Featured Image by Jan Virt.