On June 4-5, the 3rd annual World Cup was held in Vail, Co. A total of 52 male and 37 female competitors came to bring their A game, in hopes of finding a spot on the podium. Favorites for the male category included last years gold medalist Jonus Baumann, Kilian Fischuber, Gabriele Moroni, and Paul Robinson. For the female category, it was Anna Stohr, Alex Puccio, Alex Johnson, and Akiyo Noguchi. Competitors had to go through a qualification round on Friday, a semi-final round on Saturday morning, to make it to the Finals on Saturday evening. Twenty climbers advanced to the Semi- Final and 6 went from there to the final. The venue was located outside underneath a giant awning, weather was crisp and perfect; the only kryptonite was altitude.
To start things off, qualifiers ended up being a huge success. We had 5 boulder problems that determined who would advance to the next round. Overall, our problems were very physical, yet not straight forward. Problem one started with an iron cross push up into a mantel, following with a dyno around the corner to a poor left hand sloper and right hand sloper. From here, you crossed over to a small but incut edge, place your right foot next to your right hand, and lock off to the finish jug. Problem 3 was more complex with a 360 campus move in the mid section, leading to a technical move on the arete, and finishing up on pinches to the top. The nature of the problem was long and resistant, which allowed you to give it only a couple efforts. Only 4 competitors finished this boulder, with myself having the only flash. Problem 5 was completely opposite of everything else. It was our slab problem and spit off every male competitor. Paul Robinson, Jernej Kruder, and Tusukuru Hori were the only climbers to send this problem. It was very powerful/ technical on sloping balls with a difficult mantel finish. I ended up sending 4 out of the 5 problems, qualifying in 3rd place and advancing to the next round.
Paul took 1st and Jernej 2nd. The next day was going to be the true test.
Semi- finals ended up being a dramatic show. Our first problem was a slab that consisted of an awkward mantel to the finish jug. Problem 2 and 3 were pure power problems and 4 had a tricky start to technical climbing on horrible slopers. I ended up sending the first on my 2nd try and flashing all of the rest. The rest of the finalists completed 3 out of 4 problems. The line-up ended up being like this: Daniel Woods, Jernej Kruder, Francois Kaiser, Kilian Fischuber, Wouter Jongeneelen, and Tusukuru Hori. Every finalist was from a different country. Everyone had their eye on Jernej Kruder from Slovenja. He was tall and very talented on compression problems. The style fit him well and he was going to be a true test. This whole time, Kilian was competiting with a bruised toe and had to keep freezing it in between problems. He is a true competitor and has so much experience with climbing well in World Cups. The final round was going to be difficult.
Finals was kicked off with an introduction of the athletes, followed by our route preview. We had 4 final problems with 4 minutes to complete each one. The tries were unlimited and even with a few seconds left on the clock, you could jump on and give the boulder one final effort (this is different from the other rounds because in qualis and semis once your time is up you have to drop off. You also get 5 minutes to complete each boulder). Problem 1 was a compression boulder up a right arete. Problem 2 started with a dyno to two crimps with a technical dyno finish from two poor sloping pinches. Problem 3 had a technical start on slopers with a huge dyno finish. Problem 4 had a tricky dihedral start with a massive dyno to a ring following with crimps to the finish. On problem one Kilian, Jernej, Tusukuru, and myself all completed it. Problem two every competitor was able to reach the final hold or come close to it, but no one could do the final move. I ended up sending it on my second try and this was the deciding factor of the whole competition. Problem 3 had an impossible last move dyno which every competitor got too, but could not complete. Problem 4 had a dyno in the beginning that shut down most of the field. Jernej Kruder was the first to stick the move but came short of the bonus hold. At this point I knew that I had won since I had 2 tops and everyone else 1. I also wanted to do well on the final boulder and try to send it. I fell repetively on the dyno and chances looked slim for doing the boulder. I had 10 sconds before my time was up and had to make a deciding factor. Either not try and win or give one more effort to do the problem and take the win. I got really psyched and jumped on with 3 seconds remaining. The crowds intensity was high and to most people, I had not wont yet since Jernej had the high point. I finally stuck the dyno and climbed through to the bonus hold. Arriving at the two final crimps, I was staring down the finish jug and about to move then my foot picked off the hold and I was unable to keep enough tension to complete the last move. The crowd was roaring and to them I had solidified the victory. I really wanted to do this problem, but more than anything I was happy to be done with this competition. Two months of stress and training can be hard on the system, to have the relief of being finished and winning was bliss. The podium looked like this: 1st Daniel Woods, 2nd Tusukuru Hori, 3rd Kilian Fischuber. Second and third place were decided by falls to bonus on problems 2 and 3. Jernej had the previous rounds on lock down, but had too many falls getting to the bonus holds. If he would have stuck the bonus on problem 4, he would have placed 2nd.
Overall, the WC was a huge success. Everything was ran perfectly, the walls and setting were incredible,and the hometown energy was the best I have ever seen at a competition for climbing. Competitions are beginning to grow and I am excited to see what they will look like in the future. Congratulations to Tusukuru and Kilian for taking 2nd and 3rd and to all the rest of the competitors who entered the event. See you next year.