After four consecutive medals in each of the four 2022 World Cup events, Yoshiyuki Ogata is the man to beat. Japan’s dominance this season is due in large part to the 24-year-old’s proficiency on the wall, but he is not alone. Rei Kawamata, Tomoa Narasaki and Kokoro Fujii have all contributed to Japan’s control of the podium places, but their victory in Brixen is not assured. Great Britain’s Hamish McArthur and Germany’s Yannick Flohé lead the men in both of the gender’s sub-categories.
In the last four World Cups, only one gold medal went to a non-Japanese athlete. France’s Mejdi Schalck secured gold in the first of the two Salt Lake City World Cups. Over the course of the last events, Team Japan secured nine of 12 available medals, to earn gold three out of four possible times.
This team-wide proficiency is headed by Ogata, Narasaki, and Fujii, each of whom earned gold this season. Narasaki missed out on competing in the latest Salt Lake World Cup because of COVID, but he has returned with a renewed vigor, qualifying for semis in ninth.
Naraski is joined by his brother Meichi Narasaki, along with teammates Yuji Inoue, Kawamata, Ogata and Fujii. Ogata and Fujii tied for third, each qualifying in second in their respective subcategories.
After Flohé’s strong performances in Salt Lake City, the German competitor seems ready for the podium, if he can only nail down his consistency through the later rounds. Flohé climbs well in the qualification and semi rounds but struggles to hold it down through finals. His grip rivals the best of the Japanese competitors.
Britain’s Hamish McArthur has also climbed with a lesser consistency than many would have expected after his World Championship, and Youth World Championship performances last summer. After winning two gold medals at the Youth World Championships for Lead and Boulder, McArthur earned bronze at the adult World Championships for Lead. Although Flohé has been more consistent this season, McArthur’s ability to perform in finals may give him an edge on the German climber.
Canada Misses Semis
After a successful series of Boulder and Speed World Cups, Canada missed semis in both the men’s and women’s categories. Victor Baudrand led the way and finished 45 with one Top and two Zones. His brother Oscar followed in 57 as Guy McNamee took 65. Ethan Hoffman rounded out the Canadian team with one Zone.
Of the 20 men moving on to the semi-finals, most are faces we have seen before. Austria’s Jakob Schubert will hope to make his second final of the Series. The experienced competitor is one of the more consistent in the field, but generally lacks the power to pass his Japanese rivals to the podium.
With that said, he took first into finals in Salt Lake, but whether he can retain such a position is unclear.
The real wildcards of the round will be France’s Mickael Mawem and Korea’s Jongwon Chon. Although they each struggled to make podium this season, they are both medal-level boulderers with the capacity to pull harder and further than some of the Japanese athletes.
Great Britain’s Max Milne also seems close to breaking through to a podium position as one of the more consistent finalists in these last World Cup events, but he appears to need just a few more attempts than his competition.
The women’s semi-final begins tomorrow at 5:00am EST. Women’s finals will follow, leaving the men’s semi-final and final for Sunday.
Men Advancing to Semis
1 – Yannick Flohé (GER)
1 – Hamish McArthur (GBR)
3 – Kokoro Fujii (JPN)
3 – Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN)
5 – Jakob Schubert (AUS)
5 – Dohyun Lee (KOR)
7 – Mathieu Ternant (FRA)
7 – Maximillian Milne (GBR)
9 – Rei Kawamata (JPN)
9 – Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)
11 – Simon Lorenzi (BEL)
11 – Max Kleesattel (GER)
13 – Yuji Inoue (JPN)
13 – Philipp Martin (GER)
15 – Jongwon Chon (KOR)
15 – Mickael Mawem (FRA)
17 – Nimrod Marcus (ISR)
17 – Alex Megos (GER)
19 – Meichi Narasaki (JPN)
19 – Jan-Luca Posch (AUT)
Yoshiyuki Ogata by Lena Drapella