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Angela Eiter on her way to making history and winning her fourth World Championship
Photo by Franz Schiassi
Dmitry Sharafudtinov incredulous after winning his third World Championship title.
Photo by Franz Schiassi
The men's Lead podium: Sean McColl (silver), Jacob Schubert (gold), Adam Ondra (bronze).
Photo by Franz Schiassi
Matteo Stefani competing in the Visually Impaired Final of the Paraclimbing World Championship 2012.
Photo by Franz Schiassi
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World Climbing Championships 2012, all the results from Paris.

17.09.2012 by Franz Schiassi

The 12th World Climbing Championship took place in Paris last week. Lead was won by the Austrians Jakob Schubert and - for a record breaking fourth time - Angela Eiter. Boulder was won by Mélanie Sandoz from France and - for the third time - Dmitry Sharafudtinov from Russia. Yuliya Levochkina from Russia won the Speed event and her counterpart Qixin Zhong from China was crowned World Champion for the fourth time in a row. The full report by Franz Schiassi.

The 2012 World Climbing Championships were held at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy and also hosted the Paraclimbing World Championships, just like the Arco did last year. Although only the finals of some events were open to the public from 6pm onwards, the press had the chance to watch the two semi-finals that took place on Saturday morning: lead for men and boulder for women.

SATURDAY 15/09/2012
LEAD MALE SEMI-FINAL
The men’s Lead Semi-final did not hold too many surprises in store in terms of who would compete as all the strongest climbers passed the qualification stage with ease, many of them topping both routes.
The Semi-final testpiece started in the centre of the continuously overhanging wall to then cut to the left, past a small arête and on through a roof. Former World Cup winner Jorg Verhoeven of the Netherlands was the first to climb far higher than the previous competitors. Current World Cup leader Sachi Amma from Japan also did well and reached the same point as Verhoeven, as did Frenchman Romain Desgranges.
Just like in the Arco Rock Master Semi-final, Adam Ondra found a no-hand rest and greeted the small audience from there before climbing on to a new highpoint. He committed a small mistake and fell off a handful of holds from the top and as we talked to him later, he said he was pumped but he could have probably finished the route had he not slipped off. Next time, Adam! Ramonet, the penultimate athlete in this Semi-final, displayed his incredible endurance once again as he climbed calmly but unstoppably to achieve the only top of the day. Last out Jakob Schubert got very close, but couldn't stick the second to last hold.
Canada’s Sean McColl was probably the biggest surprise of this Semi as he confidently breezed past Ondra’s highpoint. We managed to have a chat and to congratulate him about his strong performance.

Interview Sean McColl
PM: Sean, well done for your third place in the semi-final, you climbed very fast and with little hesitation. How did the route feel? Did it fit your style?
McColl: Yeah, even though this is my fourth day on, I thought the style was great. It was quite a long route, which is not completely my style, but it was direct, it didn't venture too much around the wall. It did go from one side to the other, but sometimes they make things like loops and stuff but that wasn’t the case. So I thought the route was really good, I climbed really well, I felt good so... everything went really well today! : )
PM: I know you now live in France and you train here. Do you feel like this new location has given you a bit of an advantage, I mean, living more in Europe, being closer to stronger competition climbers?
McColl: When I moved to France, 1 or 2 years ago, I knew that just being closer to the competition circuit was going to be awesome and yes, it definitely helps. I train with my girlfriend for 15 hours a week, I need the gyms in Europe and being in this atmosphere all the time has really helped me raise my level of climbing to where I am today.
PM: How about your 2012 season overall?
McColl: My season has been pretty long. I climb outside when I get the chance but my season started in March, so I was in training at the end of January to get back in shape after having taken two months off in winter, in December and January. Competitions go from March to the 21st of November. I compete in both bouldering and lead and do upwards of 15 World Cup events a year, plus internationals. So I don't have a lot of time for climbing outside... It's definitely one thing I miss a little bit, I know this is the trade-off of climbing with competing at such a high level, but I love it just as much...
PM: A bit of an unavoidable question: what do you make of climbing coming to the Olympics in 2020. What do you think are the good things about it and maybe the not so good things?
McColl: I generally try to focus only on the things that will be good for climbing and personally I'd love to see it in the Olympics. It's a goal that I'd want the sport to try and get to. I grew up watching the Olympics. I fantasised about being a track athlete when I was younger, but I'm not quite tall enough, maybe : )
I played soccer when I was young as well, but then I discovered climbing and I instantly loved it, I didn't think about it as being Olympic. But just the chance to be in an Olympic sport, I find, it's good stuff for climbing.
PM: Thank you very much Sean and good luck tomorrow for the final!
McColl: Thank you!

BOULDER FEMALE SEMI-FINAL
The female boulder Semi-final proved a completely different matter. Nobody managed to top all problems and the best performers were Anna Stöhr and Jain Kim who topped three.
Alex Puccio, climbing strongly after her clean win at the recent "The Battle" competition in Lillehammer (Norway) and first in the qualification phase here in Bercy, struggled on the difficult problems and despite reaching four bonus holds had managed to top only one problem by the time she attempted #4. On her last attempt she managed to grab the top hold but just as she was about to match her feet slipped and she fell, thus missing the final. Mademoiselle Melissa Le Névé was also frustrated by the boulders of the semi-final managing to top just one. We met Anna Stöhr and asked her about this semi as well as her future plans

Interview Anna Stöhr
PM: Anna, how was the boulder Semi-final for the female athletes?
Stöhr: For me it was actually good, but a lot of favourites didn't get into the finals…
PM: What do you think are the reasons for that? Were the boulders a bit different from what you all expected?
Stöhr: The slab was definitely an important part, if you were good at it, you pretty much made it to the final. I also think that nerves can be a problem sometimes. It is typical in bouldering and in the world championships in particular there is a lot more pressure.
PM: What about your Austrian teammates in the women’s Lead final? Who do you think has bit more of an edge tonight?
Stöhr: I think they both have good chances, especially Johanna, she looked really solid in the Semifinal in my opinion. But also Angy, she is a fighter, she can always be on top. So it's a great atmosphere for the Austrian team, it's good to be part of it.
PM: I guess supporting your teammates is almost a full time job if you are Austrian! I mean you guys always go far in the competitions, in all specialties and with both genders…
Stöhr: (laughs) Yes, that's true, we always need to give a lot of support!
PM: And now that the boulder World Cup is finished, do you have projects outdoors?
Stöhr: Yes, we are staying in Fountainebleau for a couple of days and then I go to Kalymnos…
PM: Ah, no boulders there!
Stöhr: Yes, it'll be a bit like in Australia. Kilian and I were there this summer for 6 weeks, so we did a lot of route climbing as well as bouldering.
PM: How does mixing things up compare to just bouldering?
Stöhr: It feels hard for me because I get so pumped, but I like it a lot… and the lines in Australia are amazing. You look at the wall and just want to climb.
PM: Where exactly were you?
Stöhr: In the Grampians, so we combined bouldering and lead climbing.
PM: And how does these World Championships in a big city like Paris and a big venue like this compare to the 2011 one in Arco, a smaller place were climbing has a particular relevance?
Stöhr: It's hard to explain. When it comes to the finals, here it's been great because the crowd really support you. But on the other hand, here in Paris the audience wasn’t allowed to watch the semi-finals. And for us climbers it's as hard to get into the finals as it is to be on the podium, so it's hard to deal with this lack of support during the semi-final.


MALE BOULDER FINAL
The best was yet to come though with a colourful opening ceremony at 6 pm in front of an audience of circa 9000 people. The first event was the male boulder final. The French organisation did an extremely good job in explaining the rules of the competition and put to good use the various screens around the venue. The camera work was also extremely professional and competently screened the incredible performance of the six finalists.
The first problem got flashed easily by Rei Sugimoto and by recent World Cup winner Rustam Gelmanov, so easily in fact that that we thought the setters had wanted to please the audience with a high number of tops. But surprisingly, it took defending World Champion Dmitry Sharafutdinov a handful of attempts to climb it, unlike Fischhuber, McColl and Jan Hoger who sent it without further ado. By the first boulder, the defending champion seemed to lag hopelessly behind the rest of the field.
The second boulder proved a completely different matter. Sugimoto and Gelmanov barely managed to get off the ground and were shut down by an obscene two-finger crimper that made the problem look practically impossible. But this time it was Sharafutdinov who put to good use his experience and heavy training. Not only he did stick the seemingly impossible hold first go, but he then managed to close the problem with some extreme friction footwork. McColl and Fischhuber also made easy work of the problem, showing off with a couple of one arm pull-ups to the amazement of the very enthusiastic spectators.
The third problem was extremely complex and featured a traverse which required a not very intuitive cross-through. Once again the leader board changed dramatically as the two Russians were the only ones to send this problem. Fischhuber and McColl had now lost their lead as Sharafutdinov was the only one with three tops, albeit with a large number of attempts needed on problem #1.
On the last problem the final outcome was still wide open, but the winner soon became clear as Dmitry flashed the somewhat easier moves, just like everybody else bar McColl who sent it second go. Style points go to Rustam Gelmanov who, much to the crowd’s delight, avoided the first two moves with a double dyno.

PARACLIMBING FINAL VISUALLY IMPARED
The time had now come for the second event open to the audience, namely the final for visually impaired climbers. The athletes climbed up the left hand side of the lead wall, top-roping the route while a second rope was used to minimise the swing in case of a fall.
Unlike the other events, this final was characterised by near absolute silence as the climbers were continuously given the beta by their coach. Whether this was done directly as in the case of Japan’s Kenji Iwamoto (silver medal) or via radio for Nicolas Moineau and Matteo Stefani (gold and bronze respectively), the audience gave their silent support to the competitors until the fall, when the climbers could finally enjoy a well-deserved applause

LEAD FEMALE FINAL
The female lead final took place in front of a completely packed Palais Omnisports. First to climb was Charlotte Durif who, thanks to the phenomenal crowd support, climbed the route in her typical slow paced style, shaking out often and always looking in control. She fell at the roof that followed the traverse with a spectacular move. Both Evgenia Malamid and the promising Hélène Janicot got punished by a crux move on the arête, while Sweden’s Matilda Söderlund managed to power through only to fall three holds below Durif's highpoint.
It was now Angela Eiter’s turn. The Austrian climbed with confidence through the first part of the route and although she seemed to struggle after the roof, her sheer will kept her climbing and she reached hold 48.
Momoka Oda, 3rd in the Semi-final, climbed intelligently and managed to find a better, safer beta for the crux that had already shaken off two competitors. She reached the same point as Durif but ended up ahead thanks to her better Semifinal result. Johanna Ernst was next and climbed solidly to reach the same point as Momoka and Durif, while last-out Jain Kim produced a sterling performance (even the more impressive considering how well she had fared in the morning’s difficult Boulder semi-final) but failed to equal Angela's 48+ hold result.

The result of the female lead WCC seems to hint at the fact that things could change in the World Cup, which with another 5 events is still in full swing. Angela Eiter seems on obvious form, but missed out on the first two events. Mina Markovic is currently in the lead, but skipped the WCC because of an injury, while Johanna Ernst and Momoka Oda have already made the podium twice this season. We'll have to wait and see...


SUNDAY 15/09/2012

FEMALE BOULDER FINAL
Sunday's session started with the final of the female boulders. The first of the four problems did not present particular difficulties, as it got flashed by all the 6 finalists, despite Cécile Avezou, (climbing hard at 40 years of age!) mistaking the penultimate hold for the top, waiving to the crowd and then realising she had one more to go!
Serious business started with the second boulder, which featured a four-point cut loose dyno followed by some extremely crimpy moves. Mélanie Sandoz fought hard and flashed the problem, showing great power, and so did Russia’s Olga Iakovleva and Japan’s Akiyo Noguchi, albeit second go.
This second boulder made Anna Stöhr work hard but proved too much for Jain Kim and Cécile Avezou.
The third problem was completely different, with technical moves full of body tension and a top that required mantling à la Fontainebleau. None of the athletes managed to flash it and in fact only the two French competitors and Olga Iakovleva managed to send it.
By the fourth boulder Mélanie and Olga were therefore in the lead, with the former leading by just one attempt. The one-hand dyno from a stretched position of the last boulder proved too much for all competitors bar Jain Kim (who used a very intelligent beta) and Anna Stöhr, who twice managed to stick the bonus hold but failed to make further headway.
With such a hard fourth problem, one couldn’t help feeling that the final was decided by three boulders only. Still, the competition proved fierce, with a very supportive audience and great athletes who put on a fantastic show and continued to interact with the crowd, even in the hardest moments.

PARACLIMBING FINAL
Sunday’s second final was dedicated to Paraclimbing athletes missing a lower limb. Four athletes took part in the final representing Japan, Spain, Indonesia and the USA. Climbing up the same section of the wall used by the visually impaired finalists, these challenged climbers displayed a series of seemingly impossible moves up a 6c+, at times with the smoothness and finesse that most can only dream of.

MALE LEAD FINAL
Next up was one of the most coveted events, the male Lead Final. Like the other events, this was commented by none other than François Legrand, the triple World Champion and five-times winner of the Climbing World Cup. The route followed a similar line to that of the female lead final, but with far more bouldery sections and sequences under the roof that would prove difficult to read.
Jorg Verhoeven was the first out and he did an extremely good job, dispatching the first cruxes and falling off at the difficult sequence of the roof. Korean Hyunbin Min had a short-lived performance, as he fell about a third of the way up at the first crux. Romain Desgranges, the home crowd's big hope, fought through the first crux and then looked good. But just as he was going for a relatively easy hold at the start of the roof he didn't reach far enough and fell, much to his frustration. Sachi Amma was also a bit unlucky, as he failed to stick that same first crux that had sent Hynbin flying.
Climber number five, Adam Ondra, made the best of his tall stature and climbed using plenty of heel hooks. He made it past Jorg Verhoeven's highpoint but fell when exiting the roof and entering the headwall.
Sean McColl's climb was, yet again, an impressive display of speed and good technique. His mix of power and fine balance literally propelled him with surprising ease well past Ondra's last hold and only the pump brought him to failure. Assuming, that is, that you can define a guaranteed podium a "failure"…
It was then the turn of Austrian ace Jakob Schubert. He climbed well and in control, albeit his choice of beta for the move that saw Desgranges fail nearly gave his trainer and teammates a heart attack. As he climbed past the roof he didn't seem as solid as Sean McColl but he reached the headwall nevertheless and, instead of speeding up, managed to find a hold which enabled him to at least chalk up. He then continued until the last quickdraw and fell just a few moves from the top, well satisfied with his performance.
While Ramon Julian Puigblanque started his climb, Jakob and Sean moved to the autograph area as their podium was guaranteed, The compressed section didn’t seem to suit him well, but he battled through nevertheless and abandoned the central section of the wall to climb the roof, but then didn't dare to go further, possibly unsure about the sequence. He moved back to the central section and rested, while the crowd cheered him on. The clock was ticking and another two attempts to figure out that tricky sequence ended in retreat. Short of time, Ramonet tried all he could using a sequence that probably suited some other climbers but he fell, leaving Adam Ondra with the third place while McColl and Schubert were, respectively and deservedly, second and first. We met a beaming Jakob and exchanged a few words:

Interview Jakob Schubert
PM: Jakob, congratulations for your victory. How did the route feel? How close to your limit were you?
Schubert: It was an amazing route, already after observation we were all pretty psyched and motivated because it looked really fun, with slopers and compression climbing in the middle section. It was a really hard route and in the middle I was already kind of pumped...
PM: Could it be maybe 9a rather than the usual 8c+?
Schubert: No, I don't think it was 9a, but it's not easy to grade something that you have just tried on-sight in a competition, it's really difficult. Especially in a World Championship everyone climbs with a lot of pressure, everyone is probably a little nervous. But that's also why I really wanted to win. Mentally, I was in a good state, I knew I could just pull it off and while climbing I didn't think about anything. I just climbed and really believed in myself and in the end it went well.
PM: I talked to Anna Stöhr and she said that in the World Championships there is so much more pressure because it's this one single event, rather than one of the many events of a World Cup season. I guess you agree with that?
Schubert: Exactly, that's the thing. You just need to pull it off, on that one route you need to give 100% or even 120%. If you make a little mistake you have to wait another two years, that's why it differs from the World Cup where you have more chances throughout the year. It's really hard to handle and I'm really happy that I succeeded this year.
PM: And what do you make of the presence of Paraclimbers in these WCC? Did you follow any of the competitions, maybe the finals?
Schubert: Yes, I did, it was amazing to watch. I followed the final of the visually impaired climbers yesterday and it's… insane! I was very impressed with the job their coaches have to do, calling out the beta and all. The athletes are amazing, it was really impressive.
And I think it's also really nice that they had the chance to climb in front of 9,000 people, you could tell it was so good for them, the Italian athlete was moved to tears on the podium, it was a really emotional moment.
PM: How will today's victory influence the rest of the World Cup? There are still five events to go…
Schubert: The WCC was the biggest competition this year, it was my goal. I’ve now made this dream come true and now I can climb far more relaxed than before. I’ve been waiting for a victory in the Lead World Cup this year and haven't had one so far. Having it in the World Championship is even better but the overall Lead World Cup is another important goal, as it always is, every season. I want to win that too, I will definitely continue to train hard and next weekend it’s already time for Puurs. I feel in great shape and I'm very psyched.

All the medal awarding ceremonies followed, including that for the overall winners: Sean McColl (4th in boulder, 2nd in lead) and Jain Kim (5th in boulder, 2nd in lead).

by Franz Schiassi

IFSC Climbing World Championship - Paris (FRA) 2012
Men Bouldering  

1 Dmitrii Sharafutdinov 1986 RUS 4t9 4b6
2 Kilian Fischhuber 1983 AUT 3t3 3b3
3 Rustam Gelmanov 1987 RUS 3t4 3b4
4 Sean McColl 1987 CAN 3t5 3b5
5 Jan Hojer 1992 GER 2t2 3b3
6 Rei Sugimoto 1991 JPN 2t3 2b2

Women Bouldering  
1 Mélanie Sandoz 1987 FRA 3t4 3b4
2 Olga Iakovleva 1983 RUS 3t6 3b6
3 Anna Stöhr 1988 AUT 2t3 4b9
4 Cecile Avezou 1971 FRA 2t3 3b5
5 Jain Kim 1988 KOR 2t3 2b3
6 Akiyo Noguchi 1989 JPN 2t4 3b5

Men Lead  
1 Jakob Schubert 1990 AUT 52+
2 Sean McColl 1987 CAN 47+
3 Adam Ondra 1993 CZE 41+
4 Ramón Julian Puigblanque 1981 ESP 39
5 Jorg Verhoeven 1985 NED 38+
6 Romain Desgranges 1982 FRA 35+

Women Lead  
1 Angela Eiter 1986 AUT 48+
2 Jain Kim 1988 KOR 44+
3 Johanna Ernst 1992 AUT 42+
4 Momoka Oda 1994 JPN 42+
5 Charlotte Durif 1990 FRA 42+
6 Matilda Söderlund 1992 SWE 39+

Men Speed  
1 Qixin Zhong 1989 CHN 7.33
2 Libor Hroza 1987 CZE 8.98
3 Dmitrii Timofeev 1993 RUS 7.68
4 Sergei Sinitcyn 1983 RUS fall

Women Speed 
1 Yuliya Levochkina 1990 RUS 8.37
2 Iuliia Kaplina 1993 RUS fall
3 Natalia Titova 1978 RUS 9.22
4 Kseniya Polekhina 1990 RUS 9.24

General result MEN amputee leg PD
1 Urko Carmona Barandiaran 1981 ESP 49.98+
2 Mineo Ono 1953 JPN 47.97+
3 Craig Demartino 1965 USA 45.6+
4 Sabar Sabar 1968 INA 24+

IFSC Paraclimbing World Championship - Paris (FRA) 2012
MEN arthritis+neurological PD

1 Manikandan Kumar 1986 IND 78.1
2 Raphael Nishimura 1981 BRA 76.4
3 Mathieu Besnard 1985 FRA 70
4 András Szijártó 1989 HUN 68.6
5 Noel Colin 1976 FRA 62.2
6 Alessio Cornamusini 1966 ITA 57.8

MEN visual impairment B1
1 Nicolas Moineau 1977 FRA 23+
2 Kenji Iwamoto 1974 JPN 14
3 Matteo Stefani

MEN visual impairment B2
1 Sho AITA 1996 JPN 56
2 Koichiro Kobayashi 1968 JPN 55.5
3 Simone Salvagnin 1984 ITA 38

WOMEN Physical Disability
1 Frances Brown 1984 GBR 115.4
2 Silvia Giacobbo Dal Prà 1989 ITA 41
3 Valentyna Kurshakova 1948 UKR 18

WOMEN visual impairment
1 Dilyara Rakhmankulova 1979 RUS 40.3
2 Silvia Parente 1969 ITA 23.4
3 Giulia Poggioli 1996 ITA 16

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