The great and good of the climbing world descended on Paris last week for the 2016 IFSC Climbing World Championships. The competition, held every two years, is arguably the most prestigious event on the climbing calendar and featured athletes including Adam Ondra, Domen Skofic, Janja Garnbret and Megan Mascarenas.
Ondra claimed the Bouldering and Lead Climbing golds at the 2014 World Championships in Gijón, Spain and entered the last round of the Lead Climbing World Cup in Arco to aid his preparations for Paris. Though Ondra could only claim silver in this year’s bouldering event, he claimed a second consecutive World Championship gold in the Paris lead competition and celebrated ecstatically.
Medals were also handed out in men’s speed, women’s lead, women’s bouldering, women’s speed and a number of paraclimbing categories over five days of intense competition in the city of love.
The women’s bouldering event was blown wide open by the absence of Shauna Coxsey. The Brit, so dominant in this year’s Bouldering World Cup, was unable to compete due to a shoulder injury but made an appearance to speak on behalf of the Climbers Against Cancer foundation.
Switzerland’s Petra Klinger stole the show in Coxsey’s absence. An inspired day of climbing saw her instinctively nail the Beta for two of the problems and top the tricky fourth after a determined effort, winning the hearts of the crowd as well as the gold thanks to her evident disbelief at the quality of her climbing. Japan’s Miho Nonaka could have usurped Klinger but failed to top the final problem and had to settle for silver ahead of compatriot Akiyo Noguchi.
Adam Ondra entered the men’s bouldering event hoping to retain his gold from Gijón but despite a good effort had to settle for second place behind this year’s Bouldering World Cup leader Tomoa Narasaki. The presence of three home hopes in the final, Mickael Mawem, Manuel Cornu and Jeremy Bonder, contributed to the excitement. Cheered on by the 8,000 fans that packed into the Accor Hotels Arena the Frenchmen put up an excellent fight, with Cornu claiming the final spot on the podium.
Frenchwoman Anouck Jaubert would have been hopeful of claiming gold before a home crowd. Jaubert has won a number of rounds of the Speed World Cup this year but, despite excellent form in the run up to the event, was beaten in the race for gold by a lightning climb by Anna Tsyganova. Russia‘s Iulia Kaplina claimed third place.
The men’s final did go to form. Poland’s Marcin Dzienski leads the Speed World Cup and claimed gold with the fastest time of the whole event – a sub-six second effort. Iran’s Reza Alipourshenazandifar took silver behind Dzienski, while Aleksandr Shikov took the bronze.
Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret has starred in the Lead World Cup this year but a recent dip in form offered hope to her fellow competitors. Belgium’s Anak Verhoeven benefitted from Garnbret’s lapse in Arco, claiming gold, and will have fancied her chances in Paris after a promising top in the final. Garnbret’s superior performance in the semi-final meant that she took to the wall with her fate in her own hands – top out and the gold was hers.
The crowd watched on tenterhooks as Garnbret made her way up the wall, faltering and nearly falling at the last, before a determined effort propelled her to the top and well-deserved celebrations.
The men’s event also went all the way to the final climb. Adam Ondra made his way to the wall knowing that a top would earn him back-to-back Lead World Championship golds. Gautier Supper and Jakob Schubert had taken it in turns to set high points on the route, but Ondra celebrated on the wall when he surpassed the latter with a dynamic move across the fragile holds of the top section.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Ondra retained focus to top out the route and win the title in what he called the “best possible way – going out last into the finals and topping out, being lowered from the route and knowing that I already won, in such an amazing arena in front of such an amazing crowd. I think it just can’t get any better, you know.”
With intense competition in all the events and big crowds throughout the week, the Paris World Championships were a great advertisement for climbing and an affirmation of the health of the sport as it looks forward to its Olympic debut in 2020.