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Victor Baudrand and Sean McColl Through to Semis at Seoul World Cup

Two Canadians and for Americans qualify for semi-finals at Seoul in Korea. Can Anyone beat Grossman with Garnbret gone?

Friday’s record breaking Speed World Cup kicked off this weekend’s proceedings. With the Speed competition’s early headlines, it is no surprise that today’s Boulder qualifiers have already produced exciting. Seoul s turning to be a special World Cup. To begin, two Canadians and four Americans will move onto the semi-final round of competition.

Men

Sean McColl and Victor Baudrand will compete tonight at the Seoul Boulder semi-final. After missing out on semi-finals in Meiringen a month ago, both athletes have shown marked improvement securing 15 and 19 respectively. For McColl, this result speaks well of his post-Olympic recovery and suggests an upward trend after some tough competitions following Tokyo. For Baudrand, this semi-final is his first in Boulder. Although the Quebec-based climber made semi-finals and a final last season in Lead, this will be Baudrand’s first time competing at this level in the rope-less discipline.

Baudrand showed top-of-field consistency in North American competitions last year, but this result describes another level of capability. ALready he has improved off of his successful past season.

Still, to make podium, both McColl and Baudrand will have to out climb a dominating group of athletes. At the top of the field, Japan’s Kokoro Fujii retains his podium-trending presence following his finals appearance in Meiringen and World Championship title in Moscow. Fujii’s performance is consistently at the top of the field and his first place qualification is unsurprising.

What is more shocking is the consistency with which Paul Jenft and Mejdi Schalck continue to present between World Cups. The second and third place qualified athletes managed to make finals in Meiringen as well. They represent a new generation of younger, more technically adept crushers. Their skills are reflected in Baudrand and in the women’s category through athletes such as Natalia Grossman and Oriane Bertone.

Furthermore, Team Japan’s presence has increased yet again. In the last few international competitions, they presented in lower semi-final numbers. Although they continue to bring a presence to each and every competition, this weekend’s semi-final is composed of eight member of the Japanese team. Considering they nearly swept the podium in Meiringen, one wonders if they will return to their pre-pandemic levels of indomitability.

Women

Although the Americans did not have any men make make finals, their women’s team is representing in greater numbers. Cloe Coscoy made her second World Cup semi-final after securing her first in Meiringen last month. This speaks toward consistency for the athlete. Coscoy’s progression is interesting as she had a difficult season in 2021. She did not make the US Boulder Team. This year, Coscoy has made Boulder World Cup semi-finals while retaining her roped proficiency from the previous season.

As predicted with Garnbret’s abstention from the remainder of this season’s Boulder World Cup Series, American Natalia Grossman has become the one to beat. Still she shared a score of five Tops and five Zones with Serbia’s Stasa Gejo who continues to push toward ever greater results. Grossman beat Gejo on attempts, and will likely continue to do so, but Gejo’s trend of improvement is difficult to ignore. She will be the darkhorse for gold in this weekend’s competition.

Although Bertone qualified in fourth heading to semis, the right round could favour the French climber well enough to take podium as well. It is arguably fair to say that Bertone at her best is better than Gejo at her best, but Bertone lacks the same near-bullet consistency of the Serbian climber. Grossman is so hard to dethrone because she is more consistent than either and appears only to lose to Garnbret.

Americans Kylie Cullen and Brooke Raboutou, as well as Italian Camilla Moroni, are all still in contention, as Moroni medalled at the World Championships, Raboutou medaled in the World Cups last year, and Cullen is the US Boulder National Champion. Finally, Japan’s Miho Nonaka appears to be returning to form securing sixth after a rough performance in Meiringen. Many will expect and hope for the Olympic bronze medalist to return to the podium his weekend.

Semi-finals begin at 10pm ET.

Men Advancing to Semis

1 – Kokoro Fujii (JPN)

2 – Paul Jenft (FRA)

3 – Mejdi Schalck ( FRA)

4 – Keita Dohi (FRA)

5 – Alberto Gines Lopez (ESP)

6 – Sam Avezou (FRA)

7 – Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN)

8 – Meichi Narasaki (JPN)

9 – Tomoaki Takata (JPN)

10 – Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)

11 – Dohyun Lee (KOR)

12 – Jongwon Chon (KOR)

13 – Yuji Inoue (JPN)

14 – Max Kleesattel (GER)

15 – Sean McColl (CAN)

16 – Maximillian Milne (GBR)

17 – Nicolai Uznik (AUT)

18 – Satone Yoshida (JPN)

19 – Victor Baudrand (CAN)

20 – Gregor Vezonik

Women Advancing to Semis

1 – Natalia Grossman (USA)

2 – Stasa Gejo (SRB)

3 – Camill;a Moroni (ITA)

4 – Oriane Bertone (FRA)

5 – Franziska Sterrer (AUT)

6 – Miho Nonaka (JPN)

7 – Futaba Ito (JPN)

8 – Jessica Pilz (AUT)

9 – Sol Sa (KOR)

10 – Mia Aoyagi (JPN)

11 – Lucka Rakovec (SLO)

12 – Flavy Cohaut (FRA)

13 – Kylie Cullen (USA)

14 – Roxana Wienend (GER)

15 – Cloe Coscoy (USA)

16 – Brooke Raboutou (USA)

17 – Laura Rogora (ITA)

18 – Emily Phillips (GBR)

19 – Sofya Yokoyama (SUI)

20 – Afra Honig (GER)