IFSC World Cup Villars 2023
The IFSC World Cup showed rolled into Villars, Switzerland, over last weekend. The event held Lead and Speed rounds on outdoor competition walls in the picturesque Swiss Alps. This being the alps, weather played a part, with some competitors competing while in a thick raincloud, enjoying damp holds and slippery conditions. New Zealand were represented by two competitors each in the men's and women's speed events. Sarah Tetzlaff finished 45th in the women's event, with Abby Gebert one place behind in 46th. In the men's, Julian David broke his own New Zealand record with a 5.83 second sprint. This was good enough for 43rd place, while Flynn Chisholm was well-back in 73rd.
In the lead event, youngsters Sorato Anraku (JPN) and Colin Duffy (USA), 16 and 19 years old respectively, quaklified top into the final with strong semifinal performances. However, it was a final route for the wily old-timers, with Jakob Schubert (AUT), Adam Ondra (CZE) and Alex Megos (GER) making for a classically popular podium. The men's route was really well set, with entertaining climbing and a really good spread between competitors. This was Schubert's 20th Lead gold medal, and 23rd if combining all disciplines. Headed into the event, he was tied with Ondra on 22 golds across disciplines, so he now emerges as the most successful male competition climber of all time.
The women's event was also highly entertaining, and not without some controversy. In the semifinal, Brooke Raboutou (USA), Jessica Pilz (AUT) and Janja Garnbret (SLO) all hooked their right foot around the rope as they attempted one of the route's most difficult sequences. In the case of Pilz, this lead to an awkward fall and the end of her attempt, while Raboutou and Garnbret were able to untangle themselves and proceed to climb high on the route. The commentators predicted that this would likely be seen as using the rope to advantage by pulling on it (the foot hooking on the rope stopped the climbers' bodies from swinging as their feet cut free from the wall) and that the climbers may not score any higher on the route when this was appealed by other teams. In the end, such appeals were unsuccessful and Garnbret went through as the top qualifier, having topped both qualification routes and the semifinal.
In the final, Garnbret was again unstoppable, she topped the route to take her 25th Lead gold medal and 40th across all disciplines, confirming her place as the best competition climber the World Cups have seen. The battle for the podium scraps was close, as Pilz, Raboutou and Chaeyun Seo (KOR) all made it to a final mantle section, just one move shy of the top. Raboutou made it slightly further than the others, but wasted precious time at a traverse lower on the route and was timed out during the mantle sequence. This gave second place to Pilz, with a 43+, while Raboutou and Seo were tied on a 43. As both had scored a 45+ in the semi, the American took the bronze medal with a better qualification round score.