SPORT CLIMBING: Narasaki and Garnbret take gold in Bouldering World Champs in Hachioji

Perfect: Janja Garnbret (SLO) on her way to the Bouldering world title (Photo: IFSC/eddie Fowke)

The 16th IFSC World Championships are unlike any other, as the event will qualify athletes to the first appearance of Sport Climbing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

The 2019 Worlds are being held in Japan for the first time, in the familiar venue at Hachioji, with 253 athletes from 39 countries entered in Bouldering, Lead and Speed. It’s already been a good event for the hosts, with Tomoa Narasaki taking the Bouldering title on Tuesday, as did Janja Garnbret (SLO) in the women’s competition. The remaining finals schedule:

15 August: Lead
17 August: Speed
20 August: Combined/Women (Speed/Bouldering/Lead)
21 August: Combined/Men (Speed/Bouldering/Lead)

On Tuesday, the Bouldering finals reflected the reality of the World Cup season that ended in June: Narasaki and Garnbret are the best in the world:

● Narasaki won the World Cup over Czech Adam Ondra by 340-335, but it wasn’t that close in the final. An exceedingly difficult course was mastered only by Narasaki, who cleared two boulders and four zones in 12 and 20 tries, respectively. No one else in the six-man final could clear any of the problems and Austria’s Jakob Schubert, Yannick Flohe (GER) and Kokoro Fujii (JPN) managed to score three zones for second, third and fourth place.

It was the second world title for Narasaki, who also won in 2015. Schubert, a star in Lead and Combined, won his first Bouldering World Championships medal, as did the surprising Flohe, who never ranked higher than 10th in all of his four World Cup events this season.

● Garnbret was an enormous favorite as she completed a perfect World Cup season: six wins in six events. Japan’s Akiyo Noguchi ranked second in the World Cup and these two set the pace. Both were perfect in qualifying and Garnbret cleared one more boulder than Noguchi in the semis.

In the final, Garnbret was the only one to master all three problems, taking eight attempts to complete them. Noguchi, four times a Worlds medal winner, managed to clear two and reach two zones, the same as Britain’s Shauna Coxsey, the 2016 favorite who could not compete due to injury. Noguchi had less attempts than Coxsey and won her third Worlds silver (2007-18-19) with Coxsey taking her first Worlds medal.

Garnbret defended her 2018 title and will be one of the favorites in Lead and for the Combined title.

Looking ahead to the remaining events, the top contenders are shown by the World Cup standings so far this season:

Lead/Men (3 events so far):
1. 165 Alexander Megos (GER) ~ Second in Chamonix
2. 152 Sacha Lehmann (SUI) ~ Winner in Villars
3. 122 William Bosi (GBR)
4. 117 YuFei Pan (CHN) ~ Second in Villars
5. 110 Domen Skofic (SLO)

Ondra won the Lead event in Chamonix and Japan’s Hidemasa Nishida won the last event, in Briancon (FRA) in mid-June. Schubert is the defending World Champion from 2018 and also won in 2012, with silvers in 2011 and 2016. Ondra won the 2014 and 2016 world titles and was second in 2009 and 2018.

Lead/Women (3 events so far):
1. 280 Chae-Hyun So (KOR) ~ Winner in Chamonix and Briancon
2. 217 Janja Garnbret (SLO) ~ Winner in Villars, second in Briancon
3. 164 YueTong Zhang (CHN) ~ Second in Chamonix
4. 145 Natsuki Tanii (JPN) ~ Third in Briancon
5. 137 Mia Krampl (SLO)

The 15-year-old Seo has been a sensation, beating Garnbret – now 20 – in two of the three events so far. Zhang is just 16 and has finished 9-2-6 in the three events this season. Garnbret won the world title in 2016 and was second to Jessica Pilz (AUT) in 2018, but the two youngsters have thrown this event into question.

Speed/Men (5 events so far):
1. 300 Bassa Mawem (FRA) ~ Winner in Moscow, second in Wujiang
2. 271 Vladislav Deudin (RUS) ~ Second in Moscow, third in Chamonix
3. 260 Dimitri Timofeev (RUS) ~ Winner in Wujiang, second in Villars
4. 253 Alfian Muhammad (INA) ~ Won in Chongqing and Chamonix
5. 197 Reza Alipour (IRI)

Only Muhammad has won twice in the circuit this year. Alipour has enormous experience: third at the 2014 Worlds, second in 2016 and winner in 2018. Mawem was second at the 2018 World Champs and has been the most consistent performer so far. Russians have won at least one medal in Speed in 14 of the 16 Worlds held to date, but haven’t won since Vladimir Netsvetaev in 1993. Timofeev won a Worlds bronze in 2012.

Speed/Women (5 events so far):
1. 400 YiLing Song (CHN) ~ Winner in Moscow, Chongqing and Chamonix
2. 320 Anouck Jaubert (FRA) ~ Winner in Villars, second in Moscow
3. 261 Elizaveta Ivanova (RUS) ~ Second in Chamonix
4. 247 Aries Susanti Rahayu (INA) ~ Second in Wujiang
5. 197 Anna Tsganova (RUS)

Song, 18, is another teen sensation, breaking into the tour placing 1-1-16-2-1 in her five events. Jaubert, 25, won the World Cup last season and owns a Worlds silver from 2016. The most decorated contender is Russia’s Tsyganova, champion in 2016 and silver medalist in 2011.

Once these events are completed, a combined ranking will be compiled and the top 20 men and women will advance to the Combined event, which is the one to be held in Tokyo in 2020.

All three disciplines will be in the Combined event, which will be held over about a four-hour time frame for men and women. At last year’s World Championships, Schubert and Ondra were 1-2 for the men and Garnbret won for the women. The top seven in each event will qualify directly to the Tokyo Games.

There is prize money for the Worlds, for the top six placers in each discipline: € 3,990-2.490-1,445-783-508-375 (€1=$1.12). Summaries so far:

IFSC World Championships
Hachioji (JPN) ~ 11-21 August 2019
(Full results here)


Bouldering: 1. Tomoa Narasaki (JPN), 2t4z ~ 12/20; 2. Jakob Schubert (AUT), 0t3z ~ 0/10; 3. Yannick Flohe (GER), 0t3z ~ 0/13; 4. Kokoro Fujii (JPN), 0t3z ~ 0/18; 5. Keita Dohi (JPN), ot2z ~ 0/9; 6. Adam Ondra (CZE), 0t0z ~ 0/0.


Bouldering: 1. Janja Garnbret (SLO), 3t3z ~ 8/8; 2. Akiyo Noguchi (JPN), 2t2z ~ 4/2; 3. Shauna Coxsey (GBR), 2t2z ~ 6/6; 4. Ievgeniia Kazbekova (UKR), 1t2z ~ 3/4; 5. Miho Nonaka (JPN), 1t2z ~ 5.6; 6. Nanako Kura (JPN), 0t1z ~ 0/1.