Kranj, Slovenia proved a suitable final host for this year’s IFSC Lead World Cup as the overall champions of the men’s and women’s events, Domen Skofic and Janja Garnbret, celebrated their success on home soil. While neither Skofic or Garnbret provided a fairytale ending by claiming gold in Kranj, strong performances from both highlighted the quality and drive that has seen them dominate their respective fields in 2016.
Garnbret took to the wall on the final day of competition safe in the knowledge that the overall Women’s Lead World Cup title was hers. Nonetheless, she appeared disappointed to fall just short of the headwall from the same hold that defeated Akiyo Noguchi and Mina Markovic.
Aikyo, who briefly stuck the next hold, was elevated above Garbret and Markovic in the standings, but Anak Verhoeven surpassed all three with a stellar climb that saw her push onto the headwall and claim gold, her second of the season after Arco.
Garnbret snuck onto the podium ahead of Markovic then proudly took to the middle step for the presentation of the overall title. “It’s been an amazing year” she said, “it would be nice to win in front of the home public but, still, I won the overall so I’m not even disappointed!”
The fact that any one of Skofic, Jakob Schubert and Romain Desgranges could still claim the overall IFSC Lead World Title added considerable spice to the men’s final. Skofic had to finish higher than seventh in the final to seal victory in the overall rankings and was helped on his way by a surprisingly low crux section with slopers and stopper moves.
Only Skofic and surprise Kranj winner Sebastian Halenke managed to work their way past the crux section and it was tough to say which of the pair was more delighted – Halenke with his maiden World Cup victory or Skofic with his overall title.
“I mean, I cannot even describe my feelings at all,” Halenke enthused, “it’s my first victory in a World Cup. I did so much in order to do this, I really trained hard for that competition… I’m so unbelievably happy!”
“For this year the expectations were to be on the podium for the end of the year,” Skofic said, admitting that leading the field for much of the way and trying to hang on to victory had taken a toll on him. “I for sure was very nervous before this comp. I can’t believe I pulled it off!”
Sean McColl was crowned champion of this year’s Men’s Combined event and noted that the win was especially important because climbing’s debut in the Tokyo Olympics in four years time will also be in a combined format. McColl’s ability to lead the field in an event encompassing bouldering, lead and speed bodes well for his Olympic hopes, while Jakob Schubert, who finished second, and Japanese boulderer Kokoro Fujii, who finished third, will also take confidence from their performance throughout the year.
Janja Garnbret capped a spectacular year of success with victory in the Women’s Combined event, topping the podium ahead of Akiyo Noguchi and Austria’s Jessica Pilz. She’ll have plenty of time to admire her array of gold medals before the new season kicks off in April 2017.