2015 Bouldering World Cup Season Review – Part 1, Toronto
As a fan of the sport it is always a privilege to see the world’s best gathered together, and to see the camaraderie that exists in climbing. The climbers were refreshed and ready, the problems were set and waiting in the converted ice rink next door, the season was ready to go!
Toronto hosted the first world cup of 2015 under the wide blue skies of the Ontario plains. The event itself was indoors, taking place in front of the packed stand of a small hockey arena.
Going into qualifications for the first World Cup of a season is always a fraught occasion with the climbers looking to see what comparative gains they made over the off season. Will they have moved forward in the pack or have they slipped against their opponents?
The men started proceedings, the field of 73 climbers requiring 2 groups in qualifications, a trend that competitor numbers was set to keep in place for the remainder of the season. Missing from the field was the newly retired Kilian Fischhuber, leaving a gap the other aspiring climbers would be clambering to fill. Also absent were the strong Russians Dmitry Sharafutdinov and Rustam Gelmanov, the first with unresolved visa issues, the second choosing not to attend for personal reasons. With the truncated season sitting at 5 World Cups this year it was expected that 5 results would be needed to figure in the calculations for the overall, so in many people’s minds the Russian pair were already out.
After qualifications it was clear that the Russians might not be the only ones discounted. Shockingly the defending series champion Jan Hoyer had slumped to a 27th place finish, rendering him a single point from the event. Joining him on the outside looking in was Australian powerhouse James Kassay and a number of other regulars in the series. With so many strong climbers in attendance no one was safe.
In the women’s field a slightly smaller field of 59 athletes still required two groups. Again several strong regulars of the World Cup Circuit missed the cut but the usual suspects were all where they needed to be and lookingalanAlan Levier, Jeremy Bonder strong.
Semi Finals was an intense round, the wall was aggressively textured and blood was flowing freely as the climbers fought their way through the problems.
Semi Finals was an intense round, the wall was aggressively textured and blood was flowing freely as the climbers fought their way through the problems. The problems were tough and for the guys 2 tops was the price of admission to finals. Indeed, it was a mixed up and very young group going into finals with the strong French trio of Alan Levier, Jeremy Bonder and Manuel Cornu joined by World Cup veteran Adam Ondra, Korea’s Chon Jongwon, Japan’s Kokoro Fujii and the American darkhorse Nathaniel Coleman.
In the ladies there was a big surprise when English star Shauna Coxsey failed to progress with a 9th place finish, joining the likes of Sol Sa, Alex Johnson and Petra Klingler on the outside looking in. Making the coveted finals cut were the usual suspects Anna Stohr, Juliane Wurm, Alex Puccio, Katharina Saurwein, Melissa Le Neve and of course the defending World Cup series and Toronto champion Akiyo Noguchi.
The finals were fantastic in Toronto. The competition had been sponsored by US hold company Kilter Climbing Grips and the setters had used the bold, curving, insecure holds to great effect creating visually striking lines up the wooden wall. In the women’s finals it was a hard fought affair with Anna Stohr getting her season off to a winning start, just pipping Akiyo by an attempt to top and a couple to bonus. In third Germany’s World Champion had shown great form, almost sneaking victory as she came oh so close on the third problem. But it wasn’t to be and Anna reigned supreme!
In the men’s, before the final even started, the award for toughest climber went to Kokoro Fujii who had a badly cut knuckle stitched in the break between semis and finals so he could compete. With 7 men progressing to finals it took a while but soon it became clear this would be no normal result. With Adam Ondra, the only climber who had previously won a World Cup, sliding into 3rd it would be a first time victor in the first event of 2015.
In the end the victory went to rising French star Alban Levier who held off the American teen Nathaniel Coleman, a climber who exploded onto the World stage emphatically announcing his arrival with a silver medal. Just off the Podium Kokoro was left rueing a dropped attempt which gave Adam the bronze. 2015 as a season had begun and it was game on!
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