2017 Meiringen IFSC World Cup preview
What can you say about the first World Cup of the season? At this point its mostly meaningless conjecture with no concrete form guide to go by.
We’ve had a couple of major internationals with the CWIF and Studio Bloc Masters allowing us to gauge where some people are at in their preparation, but there were enough strong climbers missing from each event that its very wrong to assume we know who is where in their preparation going into this first event.
So, lets start with what we do know. We know who will be there, the start list is finalized and is showing 195 athletes from 35 countries. Not bad for a standalone European event before the tour jets off to Asia in a couple of weeks.
We know who won’t be there. The biggest omissions from the Austrian team with a big list of injured climbers. No Jessie, Maggie, Berit or Caro. No Alfons and sadly after the April fools joke got everyone excited, no Kilian.
The Italians are missing long time World Cup climber Stefan Scarperi and the Dutch Vera Zijlstra. And for the Canadians it’s sad not to see either of the Sethna’s, Alison Vest or Alannah Yip.
Also missing the European trip this time are the Australians, it being to far and to costly for a single World Cup for any climbers from down under to make the super long journey.
Making up for those who we will surely be missing is a crop of new and returning faces, climbers we’re excited to see in action, but have little clear idea how they’ll perform. From the USA especially this is the case with the return of Daniel Woods after a long absence from the flyaway rounds of the World Cup series, and the first senior appearance of Shawn Raboutou on foreign soil since his first international of note in Canada 2015.
The first World Cup of 2017 is a great opportunity for some of the younger climbers coming through to gauge their progress and it’s always interesting to see who can make the step up from junior competition. Those who we considered the next generation only a little while ago have arrived and the likes of Staša Gejo, Chloé Caulier and Andrea Kümin in the girls as well as the aforementioned Shawn Raboutou, Jan-Luca Posch and Baptiste Ometz in the guys are expected to well and truly be in the thick of the action. All of them are likely to make semi’s and all of them contenders for a finals berth.
The other aspect of the first World Cup of a season that cannot be overlooked is the mental game. Right now, climbers have trained hard through the off season and many are brimming with confidence. However, with only 20 through to the semifinals a lot of climbers will come away disappointed, and they have to ensure that disappointment doesn’t get replaced by disillusion. Several climbers have spoken to me personally about the toll training takes on them, and the bitterness of failure. To those climbers 2017 is a make or break year, and a little momentum at the start of the season can go a long way. Likewise, a metaphorical kick in the nether regions can be as brutally hard to bounce back from as a real one so a bad opening event could really mentally challenge some competitors.
The thing the climbers need to remember is it’s just one competition, on just one day. And things like setting style can vary greatly through a season and really influences the result of competitions. As much as possible the climbers need to stave off any early disappointments and learn from them, rather than become embittered.
Speaking of setting, the team this weekend is deep in experience. Lead by Laurent Laporte and assisted by Marc Daviet and Marcin Wszołek. I think its great that Marcin has just come off setting Studio Bloc Masters, that gives a him a great reference point going into the season. And the three setters bring a nice blend of styles that should make some enjoyable and well balanced boulders.
So, in summary, the first World Cup of 2017 is a leap into the great unknown (and that’s not even including the rule change in finals). To go out on a limb and say climber X, Y or Z has an advantage… It really is to early to tell. Expect to see most of the superstars making semi’s, but there’s so much depth in the field these days no one is safe. As for finals… If I was to hazard a guess I’d say I expect Janja to be there in the women, Chon in the men. Beyond that… I’m not even going to speculate until at least after qualifying!
Keep an eye out here for a review and photos from every round, head over to onbouldering.com for the great qualifying video’s Ángel puts out, and be sure to tune into the IFSC Live Stream of Semis and finals on Saturday!