Competing on home ground is always special. For Kilian Fischhuber and Anna Stöhr, last weekend turned into something very special indeed as they took victory in Austria's Hall in the the first stage of the Bouldering World Cup 2008.
Over 80 male and 50 female athletes from 22 different countries took part in the marathon competition which drew to a head on Saturday night as the best six qualified for the combined final - men and women competed simultaneously on the respective problems for the first time ever, much to the crowd's delight.
Fischhuber, who dominated the World Cup scene in both 2007 and 2005, fought off what he himself defines as extremely stiff competition to win this first leg. The Austrian was the only athlete to top out on 3 of the final problems, beating World Champion Dimitry Sharafutdinov from Russia and young Daniel Woods from America, his best performance to date in international competitions.
Jerome Meyer from France was the only athlete to send all problems in the Semifinal, but in the end the triple World Cup winner had to make do with fifth place, just ahead of rising Italian star Gabriele Moroni and, first excluded from the final, former world champion Cristian Core who proved that being on fighting form has nothing to do with age whatsoever.
The women's event was won, only just, by World Champion Anna Stöhr. The Tyrolean withstood the pressure and, starting last, performed just like Yulia Abramchuk (5 tops in the qulification, 3 in the semifinal and 3 in the final), with one notable difference: one attempt less to reach a zone the fourth problem. Angelica Lind from Sweden produced her best ever competition result to finish third, ahead of 18 year old Akiyo Noguchi from Japan who continues to go from strength to strength and may well be someone to look out for in the near future.
The next stage of the Bouldering World Cup takes place on the Reunion Island at the start of May. For those into statistics, check out the following 24 World Cup results: 3+2+1+1+5+4+3+2+3+2+1+4+3+2+3+1+2+3+1+4+1+4+2+1. Who might these belong to? We'll give you a clue. He's mighty strong and from Austria.
Hall Bouldering World Cup 2008
1. Kilian Fischhuber (AUT)
2. Dmitry Sharafutdinov (RUS)
3. Daniel Woods (USA)
4. Guillaume Glairon Mondet (FRA)\
5. Jérôme Meyer (FRA)
6. Gabriele Moroni (ITA)
1. Anna Stöhr (AUT)
2. Yulia Abramchuk (RUS)
3. Angelica Lind (SWE)
4. Akiyo Noguchi (JAP)
5. Natalija Gros (SLO)
6. Johanna Ernst (AUT)