2017 Tokyo Boulder World Cup Preview
Well, it’s time for the Japanese round of the 2017 IFSC Bouldering World Cup series and like the athletes I’m extremely happy to be here. After the heat of China, the cooler temps will be a welcome change for the climbers, and they’ll love climbing in front of the sold out Japanese crowd!
As we hit the halfway point of the 2017 season (yes really), we’re starting to get a clearer idea of the 2017 form guide and who are the climbers to watch. In the women’s field, it’s not surprising to see Shauna, Janja and Miho leading the pack with Staša, Akiyo and a few others close behind. Right now, you’d have to pick Shauna as favorite to edge Janja in the overall, especially as Janja will be skipping the Mumbai round as she prepares for the European Lead Champs that take place just a few days later.
Miho is right there as well and after an injury scare in Chongqing is looking fit and healthy again, if either of the others slip up the Japanese star will be in position to take vital points in the quest for the overall.
Staša is really looking like the best of the rest in terms of consistency, showing a marked improvement as she gets more comfortable with World Cups as opposed to youth competition but small errors are still hurting her results when it counts, something she will easily be able to overcome as she gains experience.
In the men’s field the bolter is really Japanese sensation Keita Watabe who has really stepped up this season, making every final so far and securing his maiden World Cup victory in Nanjing last weekend. He will be looking to maintain the momentum he’s carrying at the moment in this weekend’s round, but will be pressured by the other strong contenders in the overall. Tomoa just snuck into finals last weekend but was able to come through when it mattered, getting the all-important points for second place. Jongwon struggled to find his rhythm on the day and had to be content with 4th, a result that well and truly kept him in the hunt.
Missing out were Kokoro Fujii and Alexey Rubtsov, who both took points hits and will be looking to make ground back up in Tokyo. Kokoro struggled in semi’s and Alexey, one of several climbers to fall ill in China didn’t even make semi’s.
The other climber who will be riding a wave of emotion into this weekend’s round is the Slovenian star Jernej Kruder. Making his second final of the season, Jernej backed it up with a strong third place finish, securing his first ever World Cup podium in his 9th year on the circuit. If Jernej can take and build on the momentum he’s gained this season already he needs to be watched. This could finally be the flamboyant Slovenians year.
Top American setter Chris Danielson has returned to oversee the setting which is great news as he did a fantastic job in Kazo last year. Joining him is the Frenchman Laurent Laporte and top Japanese setter Gen Hirashima.
Tickets have already sold out for semi’s and finals as everyone wants in on the action here in Japan. The good thing is I believe the stream will be running off the Japanese tv cameras again so we’ll get lots of angles capturing all the action!
So, who will do well in Japan? Well with the field so strong its really hard to say, looking back at the finalists of last year’s event only four of the 12 finalists from 2016 have made finals in 2017, three of them in the women’s event. Needless to say the depth of field makes it incredibly hard to predict and a number of returning stars make it even more challenging. After skipping China the likes of Gabri Moroni, Daniel Woods and Youth World Champ Margo Hayes will all be looking for big weekends.
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