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Two Olympians, One Canadian at last Pre-Olympic World Cup

Canadian Victor Baudrand makes another Semi-Final at the Briançon World Cup. There are many notable names amid the absence of Olympians.

Much like the back-to-back World Cups in Salt Lake City, last weekend’s event in Chamonix and this weekend’s competition in Briançon have given athletes little time to collect themselves between competitions.

Lucka Rakovec – Photo by Lena Drapella

Last weekend, Canadian Victor Baudrand took fifth position amid a highly competitive field. For Team USA, Sean Bailey would cement himself as his country’s most proficient male World Cup athlete. Meanwhile, Italy’s Laura Rogora asserted herself as the one of the World’s best Lead climbers. Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret seems to be her only competition. As such, it is possible we will see Rogora in Finals at the Olympic Games.

Furthermore, las tweekend saw Ashima Shiraishi return to international competition. This week, she will join teammates Natalia Grossman, Ross Fulkerson and Sean Bailey in the Briançon Semi-Final.

Although the Qualification round did not offer a livestream, the spread of athletes should make for an exciting Semi-Final. Without the same number of heavy hitters, the fields have become difficult to predict. This World Cup featured only one Olympic qualified athlete: Spain’s Alberto Ginés López.

While both the Men’s and Women’s fields featured a sparse selection of Olympic athletes due to the proximity of the Games, the event still held some of the World’s strongest athletes. Several notable names have made the Semi-Final in Briançon.

Stefano Ghisolfi – Photo by Lena Drapella

Team USA’s Natalia Grossman qualified in first position reaching the high point on both qualification routes. With Rogora missing from this week’s World Cup, Grossman will have a substantial opportunity to walk home with Gold.

With that said, Slovenia’s Lucka Rakovec has maintained her strong season qualifying in second position. Although she had a challenging semi-final last weekend, Rakovec has looked increasingly on form. She too could become competitive for Gold, though Grossman’s recent track record proves difficult to surmount.

Finally, Molly Thompson-Smith has qualified for Semi-Finals in third position. This makes her best World Cup qualification result and offers potential for a strong weekend in Briançon.

With all of that said, several other names have the capacity for strong results this weekend. Slovenia’s Vita Lukan, although qualifying in 12 position, has an opportunity to make Finals. She concluded Chamonix in fourth position. Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Totkova, Chamonix’s bronze medalist, will also look to improve their ranking in the Semi-Final. She has qualified in 16.

Additionally, France’s Fanny Gibert and Oriane Bertone have qualified for the Semi-Final after a less successful weekend in Chamonix: they finished 29 and 31 respectively. Joining them these women, Team USA’s Ashima Shiraishi will hope to push onto the podium after making Finals last weekend.

Sascha Lehmann – Photo by Lena Drapella

In the Men’s field, many athletes have the capacity to complete a strong Semi-Final. Slovenia’s Luka Potocar qualified in first position while Italy’s Stefano Ghisolfi took second. Ghisolfi has approached Gold several times this season, but he has yet climb a winning World Cup in 2021.

In addition, third place qualified Domen Skofic appears on form, while Martin Stranik never fails to be competitive for the podium.

The entire set of top-eight climbers in Briançon each have a chance at Gold, although many will expect Team USA’s Sean Bailey to secure first position. With two wins in the last two World Cups, a third win here would present the American as competition to even someone like Czech climber Adam Ondra on the Lead World Cup stage.

American Ross Fulkerson will join his teammate having qualified in 12 position with extremely competitive Japanese athlete Masahiro Higuchi. Finally, Canadian Victor Baudrand will look to make Finals once again after his strong weekend in Chamonix. Heading into Semi-Finals, the Canadian qualified 18, much lower than the same round last weekend. Baudrand advanced to Semi-Finals in fourth position in Chamonix.

The Semi-Final round will begin this afternoon at 1:30 EST.

Women Advancing to the Semi-Final

1 : Natalia Grossman (USA)

2 : Lucka Rakovec (SLO)

3 : Molly Thompson-Smith (GBR)

4 : Momoko Abe (JPN)

5 : Lana Skusek (SLO)

6 : Eliska Adamovska (CZE)

7 : Julia Fiser (AUT)

8 : Nina Arthaud (FRA)

8 : Eva Hammelmüller (AUT)

10 : Ryu Nakagawa (JPN)

11 : Giorgia Tesio (ITA)

12 : Vita Lukan (SLO)

13 : Camille Pouget (FRA)

14 : Lucija Tarkus (SLO)

15 : Ashima Shiraishi (USA)

16 : Aleksandra Totkova (BUL)

17 : Natsuki Tanii (JPN)

18 : Martina Demmel (GER)

19 : Oriane Bertone (FRA)

20 : Hannah Meul (GER)

21 : Mattea Pötzi (AUT)

22 : Camilla Moroni (ITA)

23 : Salomé Romain (FRA)

24 : Fanny Gibert (FRA)

25 : Tjasa Slemensek (SLO)

26 :  Franziska Sterrer (AUT)

Men Advancing to the Semi-Final

1 : Luka Potocar (SLO)

2 : Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA)

3 : Domen Skofic (SLO)

4 : Martin STranik (CZE)

5 : Yannick Flohé (GER)

6 : Alberto Ginés López (ESP)

7 : Sean Bailey (USA)

8 : Sascha Lehmann (SUI)

9 : Hamish McArthur (GBR)

9 : Fedir Samoilov (UKR)

11 : Dmitrii Fakirianov (RUS)

12 : Masahiro Higuchi (JPN)

12 : Ross Fulkerson (USA)

14 : Sebastian Halenke (GER)

15 : Mathias Posch (AUT)

16 : Marcello Bombardi (ITA)

17 : Hannes Puman (SWE)

18 : Victor Baudrand (CAN)

19 : Sohta Amagasa (JPN)

20 : Sam Avezou (FRA)

21 : Nicolas Collin (BEL)

22 : Ties Vancraeynest (BEL)

23 : Peter Kuric (SVK)

23 : Joshua Fourteau (FRA)

25 : Campbell Harrison (AUS)

26 : Nino Grünenfelder (SUI)

Featured Image of Natalia Grossman by Daniel Gajda