Bouldering World Cup 2009: the final battle
On 12 and 13 June the 5th and final stage of the Bouldering World Cup 2009 will take place in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The race for supremacy is between Rustam Gelmanov and Kilian Fischhuber, while Noguchi Akiyo is favourite for the women's category, ahead of Anna Stöhr.
Gelmanov vs Fischhuber, a battle to the final boulder. Please excuse this boxing title, but at Eindhoven this weekend it will really be like this. After four rounds, the final act of the Boulder World Cup will terminate with a real battle. Or go down to the wire, if you prefer a different term. Currently the only doubt is whether Gelmanov's back injury is more serious than it initially seemed in Vail... But the Russian ace is registered for the event and we truly hope this singular battle will take place!
Rustam Gelmanov's 4 point lead over Kilian Fischhuber is very little indeed and to win the Trophy both will need to produce the perfect competition. It would be the first trophy for the 21 year old Russian, the third consecutive title for Fischhuber, following his 2nd place in 2006. If we know him well enough, then the 25 year old Austrian champion will fight right to the bitter end to not let this seal of complete bouldering hegemony slip from his grasp.
At present the points are practically equal after a Russian victory in Vienna, a 3rd place in the opening comp in Kazo, 11th in Hall and 6th last weekend in Vail. Fischhuber for his part, after the incredible faux-pas at the start of the season which saw him slip to 23rd place, subsequently set the record straight by gaining 100 victory points from Hall and 65 bronze points in both Vienna and Vail. What will count for more, Fischhuber's experience or Rustam's thirst for victory? And has the Russian climber properly recuperated from injury? It's difficult to say: everyone knows that each competition is a competition in its own right, that making predictions in this subtle game is nigh impossible.
What is certain is that the race for overall victory will be unpredictable and go right down to the final zone. As will the battle for third place: 22 year olf Jonas Baumann is in pole position, 28 points clear of Guillame Glairon Mondet thanks above all to his great (and somewhat surprising) victory in Vail ahead of Daniel Woods who evidently displays his great potential when playing in front of a home crowd. Gabriele Moroni is also in the running for third: after his 14th place in Japan, the Italian climber placed second in Hall, slipped to 21st in Vienna and finished 9th in Vail. He is separated by 39 points from Baumann and it's more likely that like last year he will confirm his excellent 4th place. We're certain he'll give it his best! A stage victory is still missing from his impressive results and now would be just the right moment for this to happen... he's certainly capable of such a feat.
Returning to the race for victory, while the men's competition is still in the air, the women's seems pretty much decided. Noguchi Akiyo leads by 60 points and these should keep her clear from Anna Stöhr and on track for her first World Cup victory and the first world trophy for the land of the rising sun. Should this happen then it will be a sort of sporting revenge: the Austrian would have to cede the Cup she won in 2008 to the athlete who placed second last year.
Just like in 2008 Noguchi and Stöhr duelled in a true head to head right from the outset, with the Japanese climber winning the first two competitions, followed by a 2nd and 3rd place. Stöhr for her part won in Hall and placed third in Vienna and Kazo, then complicated matters by finishing “only” 4th in Vail. She will have to produce the climb of her life and hope in (enormous and improbable) Japanese mistakes. We'll see. Just like we'll see who places third overall, as there are more than one pretenders to this podium position. The surprising Korean Jain Kim heads the list and is followed by Natalija Gros from Slovenia, Yulia Abramchuk from Russian, Chloé Graftiaux from Belgium and Maud Ansade from France, all in the space of a mere 17 points. One thing is certain, this will be a battle to the final boulder!
Insider viewpoint by Kilian Fischhuber
Back to the US! For the second year running The Teva Outdoor Games provided masses of spectators, a great show, massive media interest and a strong home performance. The climbing walls are higher, the holds more intricate and some dynos not only spectacular and powerful, generally reflecting the American competition style, but also risky!
In the Semifinal the force of the American men and women was noticeable. 3 men and 2 women provided strong performances which qualified them for the final. In the men's this even resulted in provisional places 1, 2 and 3, while the women's filed was led by Anna Stöhr. The mood in the final was practically unbeatable. If in Europe we often think about the slightly exaggerated American way of being, then we really have to bow our heads to their ability to create a fantastic competition atmosphere. People cheered and applauded every athlete and every move, and if the climber was American, then the roar got even louder.
Alex Puccio won the women's event and was the only athlete to send all 4 problems. Her teammate Alex Johnson sent 3 and placed second, while Noguchi sent 2 and placed third. The men's event was almost sensational. Jonas Baumann from Germany climbed without making a single error and flashed all 4 problems, winning deservedly ahead of Daniel Woods (his best result) and Kilian Fischhuber.
Unfortunately the competition was overshadowed by Gelmanov's fall. The Russian climbed landed on his back from circa 4m height and had to be transported on a stretcher, with head and body immobilised. Thankfully the ensuing checks showed that he had simply overstretched his vertebra temporarily and not broken anything.
The race for overall victory is still open in the men's event, while in the women's event everything seems to point to a victory for Noguchi.