The men’s Finals in Vail on Saturday were exceptionally tense with excitement. Both the Gold medal and the overall bouldering title were up for grabs and it was never obvious throughout the round who the winners would be. In the end, both would be determined on the last boulder.
Many would have placed their bets on Adam Ondra taking both titles (with first or second place he would’ve won the overall) but it was not his round. He started off strong, but it came apart for him on M3. Even the zone eluded him on the technical problem, as it had done for Sean McColl. Jan Hojer and Jongwon Chon fell going to the last hold, while Tomoa Narasaki and Yoshiyuki Ogata showed off their superb slab and volume climbing skills to take the lead.
Ondra was demonstratively frustrated after problem three and, unfortunately, he was unable to turn things around on the last boulder. M4 looked incredibly hard as the finalists fell off, one after the other, trying to squeeze the second-to-last hold. When Ondra failed to complete it, he took himself out of the running for both titles. Up next was Narasaki, who could’ve secured what was a provisional first place with a quick top. But he couldn’t get it done either. Surely the routesetters were sweating when two of the strongest climbers on the circuit didn’t finish the boulder.
But there was no need to fret. Possibly underestimated climbing alongside his superstar compatriot, Ogata came out and positively crushed men’s problem four with a flash. It was a thrilling moment and the crowd went wild in celebration of the young Japanese climber’s first World Cup victory.
To top the evening off, and to the delight of the setters and the crowd, Chon came out last and also pulled the powerful move to finish the problem. With that, Chon moved up to third place, behind Narasaki.
Men’s Final Results
1. Yoshiyuki Ogata
2. Tomoa Narasaki
3. Jongwon Chon
4. Jan Hojer
5. Adam Ondra
6. Sean McColl
In the overall competition, an athlete can earn points in five World Cup events. With this second place finish in Vail, along with two other silver medals and a gold, Narasaki earned enough points in four competitions (he missed Moscow and Munich) to win the overall bouldering World Cup title. With his 5th place finish, Adam Ondra ended up in second overall, and Yoshiyuki’s first place in Vail earned him enough points for 3rd place overall.