CWIF 2017 Competition Review
The Rab CWIF of 2017 started the international competition season off in ideal fashion.
It provided the climbers who attended a great opportunity to test their metal against many of the world’s best. In fact few top World Cup climbers were missing, with the main noticeable absentees being the Japanese. Also missing were Alexey and Dmitrii from Russia as well as Jakob from Austria. But although they were missing, the men’s field was propped up by Bouldering superstar Jimmy Webb of the US and the one and only Alexander Megos of Germany.
The Women’s field was missing Shauna Coxsey, who didn’t have the event on her road map to recovery, as well as Janja Granbret and the strong young Americans. But, the CWIF had Jule Wurm and Melissa LeNeve to keep the competition intense.
The craziness of the CWIF starts early Saturday morning when the first group (mixed) of 150 climbers attacks the 30 qualification problems. Each climber getting three attempts with diminishing points per attempt. Through the day two more groups of 150 climbers also attempt to qualify through, meaning 450 climbers are compressed to a more manageable 40 climbers for semi finals. (20 girls, 20 guys.)
In qualifying the big stories started unveiling early. Alex Megos, an early scratching from the event, couldn’t handle not climbing and pushed himself through to 4th in qualifications. All the while threatening to pull out if his injured finger flared up.
Joining him in semi’s for the men was an elite list of climbers. Chon Jongwon led the way with the only clean sweep of all 30 problems, although even the incredible Korean climber needed multiple attempts on some of the problems to get it done, with the classic British hand crack causing a fair bit of pain and taking all the energy Chon had.
In 2nd, Local Aiden Roberts was top darkhorse. He showed his incredible prowess on the Moonboard could be translated to plastic as well with a superb showing.
Further down though it was more about who didn’t qualify than who did. A very disappointed Jimmy Webb was left feeling frustrated as his score saw him just on the outside looking in. Alongside him, World Cup veteran Jorg Verhoeven was joined by the likes of Alex Khazanov, The Firnenburg brothers and more. All ruing simple foot slips or wasted attempts that had pushed them out in the tightly contested round.
Women’s qualifying saw an awesomely fit looking Petra Klingler just own the field, putting a big gap in points between herself and second.
Joining her in semi’s was 2014 World Champ Jule Wurm, recently retired World Cup superstar Melissa LeNeve and a host of top climbers. In the end the chance of progressing or not coming down to just an attempt with experienced competitors Katrine Vandet Salling and Natalie Bärtschi missing out by a single point.
Semi Finals were a fraught affair with the men and women facing tough boulder after tough boulder. Although all but one of the men’s problems were sent, a couple were completed only by two climbers, This meant a single top with low attempts would see you finals bound.
If anything, women’s semi’s were even tougher. The first slab proved impossible on the day as did the 4th problem, meaning it came down to a two problem semi. The setters had overestimated the level and in competition, even a small misjudgement can really make it tough.
However, as is prone to happening, the cream rose to the top. Alex Megos, at the last, topped the men’s 4th boulder, securing his place in finals whilst squeezing out defending Champ Sean McColl. Joining Alex in finals was Chon Jongwon, Jernej Kruder, Jan Hoyer, Michael Piccolruaz and local hero Matt Cousins.
Speaking of local hero’s, Michaela Tracy made it a Brit in each final. And she was joined by Sol Sa, Melissa LeNeve, Julija Kruder, Jule Wurm and top qualifier Petra Klingler.
Finals… How do you describe finals at CWIF? Well to start you have to discuss the incredible atmosphere. People queuing for hours to get good spots, ramming into the viewing area to make sure they catch the action. It was to say the least, packed. Indeed, packed tighter than a can of sardines that’s been run over by a lorry.
Expertly MC’ed by Percy Bishton and Danaan Markey, the energy levels were high and the crowd were anticipating an exciting final. They weren’t to be disappointed.
The evening’s entertainment started with a donation from CAC of a whooping £25000 to cancer research at the Weston Park Cancer Charity. It’s great to see that John Ellison’s legacy remains strong at the CWIF and as Shauna said during the presentation, it feels still feels strange being at the CWIF without him.
Then, as finals rolled out, so did the big controversy of the competition. The adoption of a 4 minute climb time. As a new IFSC World Cup rule for 2017, the team at CWIF implemented the change and it was a complete disaster. Everyone, from the climbers, to the spectators to the setters complained about the impact it had on the show.
By removing the 4+ rule, where a climber on the wall at the expiry of time could continue, we ended up seeing climbers walking from the mats half a minute from time on some problems as they knew they lacked the time to top the problem.
The spectators were commenting it made it look like the climbers were quitting, wimping out on the problems.
The Climbers were complaining it looked bad for them, and saying it impacted their recovery before final attempts. And, on slow problems meant realistically only one good attempt was possible.
And the setters were left frustrated as they had set from years of experience of 4+, but the climbers were running out of time before they solved some of the technically challenging problems.
There needs to be more thought and a better solution, as the new rule implemented doesn’t work. Even in semi’s the climbers get 5 minutes per problem, and lets face it, we’d be better doing away with the 2 minute viewing and lengthening the climbing time if we want to keep the show in check. Not to mention the number of amazing, after the buzzer moments that are huge highlights in World Cup history.
Apart from that. Well, the finals were great. The guys were overset again, although the feedback I heard definitely implied the 4 minute rule impacted that climbers ability to get the climbs done, and most likely affected the result of the event.
With only 2 problems receiving a single ascent each, it was clear the problems were to tough for the field struggling to cope with the new format.
In the end, a quick ascent of the slab gave the victory to Alex Megos, who became the first male in CWIF history to win it more than once, a huge achievement.
Jongwon Chon climbed superbly to second place, firing a warning shot at all the other strong guys in the field for 2017, but he will certainly be ruing the new rules after just running to low on time and being forced to speed climb the slab.
Michael Piccolruaz made it to the third step on the podium with just bonuses, after also looking superb all weekend.
The women’s finals provided a better balanced set of climbs and although two only saw single ascents at least all were climbed.
Melissa LeNeve was at her best and looked superb as she fought her way to three flashes, taking a super popular victory. Here’s to a very short retirement 😉
Reigning World Champ Petra Klingler showed that even with a slightly worse for wear knee, she is always a force to be reckoned with and secured second position with two strong flashes. While in third, Brit Michaela Tracy was another left frustrated by the new 4 minute rule as it effectively blocked her from another attempt on the second problem in finals, a problem she feel possible and one that would’ve moved one spot higher on the podium. However to say she was pleased to have made the podium would be an understatement.
So, in conclusion, the Rab CWIF of 2017 was a superb event. It wouldn’t be possible though without the support of the sponsors and the hard work of the routesetters, the volunteers and most importantly the team at Climbing Works who every year bring us the best non-World Cup of the year. Thanks all!