Eiter and Puigblanque triumph in Rock Master Lead
Angela Eiter from Austria and Ramón Julian Puigblanque from Spain have won their 6th Rock Master Lead. No one ever before has done better than them. Christine Schranz and Jacob Schubert from Austria placed second, Evgenia Malamid from Russia and Jorg Verhoeven from Holland placed third. Italy's Jenny Lavarda finished an excellent 4th.
There’s something which goes beyond. Beyond all expectations and predictions, including the bad weather which unfailingly accompanied this competition. It’s got to do with the power of sport. And here at the Climbing Stadium, during the Rock Master Lead Final, the power and magic of this sport could be seen in abundance. And when Angela Eiter reached that point, way up there, exactly where her younger teammate and rising Austrian star Christine Schranz had left her mark to lead the field, well, in that instant everyone thought that something special would be needed.
A few minutes earlier Russia’s Evgenia Malamid had fallen slightly lower after having battled all the way through from the Open, putting on a beautiful performance which warmed many a climber’s heart. Just below her is where an amazing Jenny Lavarda left the stage: climbing better and more focussed than ever before, Lavarda’s ascent made the Climbing Stadium tremble with excitement. Now though it was time for her, the last out in this women’s final: Queen Angela…
This morning Eiter had battled hard to produce the only top in the first on-sight round. But the new Rock Master rules had shuffled the cards meaning that the best 8 now set off with a clean sheet. Anything could happen therefore. But there she was already, a hair’s breadth from victory. Or rather, she had practically won already because all she needed to do was match Schranz’s hold. But that wouldn’t have sufficed, certainly not for Eiter herself who continued to fight from one hold to the next, uniquely determined, upwards, ever upwards. All the way to the top. And then, after a slight tremble while she fumbled to clip the chain, the crowd exploded. To the delight of the great spectators she produced yet another flawless climb and this was her sixth Rock Master victory, a result which broke all previous records.
Excellent Schranz finished second therefore, right behind the reigning World Champion, while Malamid finished third proving to be the most beautiful surprise of this Rock Master Lead, along with incredible, truly super Jenny Lavarda. The Italian finished fourth and just missed out on the podium; hers is a truly outstanding result, the best since 2006 when Flavio Crespi finished 4th and all the more impressive since the gap between her and the remaining athletes was significant. Austria’s Barbara Bacher finished 5th, Israel’s Valery Kremer 6th, Russia’s Dinara Fakhritdinova 7th and France’s Alizée Dufraisse 8th.
Evidently though Rock Master couldn’t finish like this since the best five male athletes still had to do battle. I.e. Mario Lechner from Austria, Jorg Verhoeven from Holland, Jakob Schubert from Austria, Adam Ondra from the Czech Republic and, last but not least, Ramón Julian Puigblanque from Spain. This morning Puigblanque had been the only one to top out after his “monstrous” climb which, once again, showed clearly that he’d be the one to beat. But first things first: a few minutes earlier Russia’s Mikhail Chernikov had not only shown that the route was really intense, but that beneath the roof something extra would be needed. Silvio Reffo had demonstrated his form and ability to deal with intense moves, falling higher than Urban Primozic from Slovenia and Reinaldo Camacho from Venezuela. And while Lechner fell a hold higher than the Italian, Verhoeven fell from Chernikov’s highpoint and thus led the provisional ranking thanks to his better onsight result.
Three to go. Needless to say the three athletes everyone was waiting for. Jacob Schubert climbed up like a rocket. Effortlessly, safe every step of the way, even through the immense roof. He seemed predestined to reach the top and easily clinched the finishing hold, like a true champion. Next out was Adam Ondra and expectations were running high for this athlete who is changing the face of climbing. He wanted that top more than anyone else and in what seemed like a foretold script he breezed upwards to 4 holds beneath the “Verhoeven & Chernikov” mark and… his foot slipped. Ondra fell, bitterly disappointed. But there was no time to stop and think: Puigblanque was roaring to go. The Lead World Champion knew full-well that only the finishing hold would secure victory… Now, can you imagine a man without weight? Yes, as he forged his way up the Catalan climber really did seem on a different planet, in a world without gravity. His ascent was another masterpiece and he won, yet again. His and Eiter’s were perfect climbs: two tops on two routes. And just like Eiter, this was Puigblanque’s 6th Rock Master gold. No one ever before has done better than them.
It’s worth underling Schubert’s sportsmanship as he applauded Puigblanque’s top to finish 2nd overall. Verhoeven checked in 3rd, Chernikov 4th, Ondra 5th, Lechner 6th, Reffo 7th, Primozic 8th, Camacho 9th. It’s also worth adding that the routes were fantastic and that a great crowd, heedless of the rain forecast, packed into the Climbing Stadium. And that evening’s like these are worth experiencing: tonight was fantastic, way beyond all predictions and expectations!