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Rock Master
Photo by Giulio Malfer
The Arco Rock Legends 2008: Adam Ondra won the thrid Salewa Rock Award, while Maja Vidmar won the La Sportiva Competition Award.
Photo by Giulio Malfer
Luca Zardini taking part in the Rock Master 2008
Photo by Giulio Malfer
Michele Caminati competing in the Sint Roc Boulder Contest 2008
Photo by Giulio Malfer

Rock Master and Arco Rock Legends 2009, all the main players of this stellar climbing competition

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The 23rd Rock Master will take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September in Arco (Lake Garda, Trentino, Italy). The classic Arco Rock Legends will prelude the event on Friday 4 Septembr with the Salewa Rock Award and the La Sportiva Competition Award, the sport climbing Oscars. Information about all the main players and the event which promises to be unforgettable.

ROCK MASTER TROPHY, THE COMPETITION OF COMPETITIONS. More than ever before the Rock Master promises to be a stellar challenge, starting with the classic Lead competition (the one with the rope) which takes place on the steep Climbing Stadium walls. It has not come about by chance that the comp will be headed by the recently crowned World Champions, Patxi Usobiaga from Spain and Johanna Ernst from Austria - both winners, as it happens, of Rock Master 2008. These two will have to halt the assault of the best in the world. First and foremost there will be the young climbing god, the 16 year old Adam Ondra who, after his debut into the upper league with a devasstating second place in the Qinghai World Championship, last weekend competed in Imst and won this stage of the Lead World Cup 2009. It needs not be said that right behind this Czech Republic phenomenon, separated by just a whisker, was Usobiaga, the reigning World Champion, who certainly isn't one to give up easily. A true champion right to the heart, he always wants to win and battles to the bitter end. Adam take note: in Arco too the duel will go down to the final hold. A true challenge, stellar.
But those who know the great Rock Master challenge well know that to win both Usobiaga and Ondra will have to give it their best, better still, they will have to exceed themselves. Because the eternal law of sport lies in wait, the one that states that sometimes a lucky third opponent manages to beat the two main challengers. Many can fit this bill. Such as Dutchman Jorg Verhoeven, the winner of the Lead World Cup 2008, or Austrian David Lama, the most unpredictable climbing ace in the world circuit. One mustn't forget Ramon Julian Puigblanque, three times winner of the Rock Master and Usobiaga's historic rival. Nor should one fail to mention pirate Tomas Mrazek, a true minefield who has always been subscribed to the throne. Or Swissman Cedric Lachat, another climber who has a habit of producing the impossible. Much is expected of the two 19 year old young guns Jakob Schubert and Thomas Taurpon, the two emerging climbers from Austria and Germany - but also of the increasingly positive Slovenian Klemen Becan, of Valeriy Kriukov from the Ukraine and of Romain Desgranges, i.e. of what remains of the French male squad. One cannot hide the fact that all Italian expectations (and hopes) are for Flavio Crespi, competing in his first home competition after his long injury which kept him away from the circuit. The winner of the World Cup 2005 has nothing to lose and this could be a slight advantage in the race for this miracle first-ever Italian victory which, in 2007, he missed by a hair's breadth. This too is one of the many dreams which flutter around the Climbing Stadium.
Talking about miracles, in the women's competition no one seems capable of stopping incredible Johanna Ernst's victory march. Last year the 17 year old from Austria won practically everything there was to win, starting with theRock Master and continuing via the World Cup 2008 and the World Championship, only to restart her unstoppable form in Imst last week. She will be worried by the usual crew. Starting with Angela Eiter, on form once again after herhorrible year: at Imst she was the only one really capable of standing up to her teammate. It's clear that Eiter (with 4 Rock Master victories and everything else that can be won under her belt) aims to regain the throne that Ernst took from her in such a ruinous manner. But the attack against the new queen will also be led by Maja Vidmar from Slovenia, perhaps the most fearsome adversary of the young Austrian climber, together with Caroline Ciavaldini from France. Special attention will be paid to Jain Kim from Korea who proved her worth in Imst. They will battle against all the others, such as the excellent Mina Markovic and Natalija Gros from Slovenia, the veteran and constantly on form Alexandra Eyer from Switzerland, the 19 year old Charlotte Durif from France and her German counterpart Juliane Wurm who debuts in Arco this year. Italy will be represented by Jenny Lavarda (by now an institution, despite her mere 25 years of age) and the extremely young Alexandra Ladurner from Merano. The 17 year old won her category in the Youth World Championship in 2007 and Italian competition hopes are palced on her shoulders
Naturally the difficult game for these super athletes, i.e. the on-sight and afterwork routes, will be prepared by the award winning duo Leonardo Di Marino & Donato Lella, the official route setters who this year have promised an even more difficult and above all even more spectacular competition which will see the icing on the cake in the form of the whamming Duel final (which will decide the Ennio Lattisi Trophy between the top 4 Rock Master positions).

SINT ROC BOULDER CONTEST. If the classic Lead competition promises memorable battles, then the Sint Roc Boulder Contest is no less. Only the best of the best will take part in the bouldering roulette. In the men's event the challenge will be between the recently crowned World Champion Alexey Rubtsov from Russia and the Austrian ace Kilian Fischhuber. Rubtsov is the novelty and surprise while Fischhuber is the boulderer who boasts perfect style: he has always been the man to beat. Their battle will be a sort of judgement day but certainly the absolute protagonist, Italian Gabriele Moroni, will have a say in the matter: not by chance he placed 3rd last year in the Bouldering World Cup and he is now the most likely to achieve an Italian victory. But everyone knows that bouldering is the most aleatory of climbing games, so placing your bets on the other Italian team member Lucas Preti wouldn't be too far off the mark, nor would betting on Rustam Gelmanov, the Russian ace and vice world champion, almost completely unheard of here in Italy. In with a chance is the extremely strong Frenchman Guillame Glairon Modet and Jonas Bauman from Germany and also Jerome Meyer, the French champion who at 30 years of age can justly be considered the star guest of the event: he's an absolute ace who, for the record, is the reigning European Champion and he'll certainly fight for gold (and the spectacle) in Arco, too.
The women's bouldering game will be contended between Akiro Noguchi from Japan, Anna Stöhr from Austria and Yulia Abramchuk from Russia. As if to say, the battle will be between the world's top three. Noguchi is the winner of the Boudlering World Cup 2009, the one to beat and a complete newcomer to Acro. Stöhr on the other hand is an institution in this town while Abramchuk will have to prove that her World Championship title wasn't a flash in the pan and tha she will now no longer be the eternal outsider. In other words, the competition will show the best that female bouldering currently has to offer. All the more so since the highly anticipated novelty, and curiosity, is on Alex Johnson, the 20 year old from America who amazed all with her victory in the Bouldering World Cup in Vail in 2008 which was then confirmed in 2009 with an excellent second place. She will be joined by the "veteran" and extremely strong Ukranian Olga Shalagina, Alizee Dufraisse from France and, last but by no means least, Sara Morandi who for the second year running will feel the joy and emotion of competing in front of her home crowd at Arco.

SPEED. Once again the spectacle of this authentic Speed Climbing Gala which takes place in Arco each year will be fuelled by the fastest sprinters in the world. Although the Chinese athletes who monopolised the podium in Quinghai will not take part, you can bet that Sergey Synitsin, Libor Hroza, Csaba Komondy, Jedrzej Komosinsky and companions will do their very best to climb faster than the speed of light. The women will do just the same, starting with speed climbing legend Edyta Ropek and including Anna Stenkovaya, Valentina Yurina and Ksenia Alexeeva. The Italian squad will be represented by Lucas Preti, the only athlete taking part in the double undertaking bouldering/speed, Michel Sirotti and the other Arco local and Morandi family member, Jessica. The mission for all will be to beat the incredible record established during the last World Championship: 6:64 for the men and 9:04 for the women. The mission will be to climb as fast as lightening... it'll be a spectacle in the search for a vertical Bolt.

ARCO ROCK LEGENDS, THE SPORT CLIMBING OSCARS. Rock Master will take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September at the Arco Climbing Stadium but not before the fourth edition of Arco Rock Legends, scheduled for 21.00 on Friday 4 September at the Casinò di Arco. The Salewa Rock Award (for single pitches at the crag or bouldering) and the La Sportiva Competition Award (for the best competition climber) will be contended by an exceptional 5 climbers and 3 athletes, chosen by a select Jury comprised of 19 of the most authoritative specialised climbing magazines. The nominations for the Salewa Rock Award went to the untiring Dani Andrada from Spain, the German ace Markus Bock, the legendary 16 year old from the Czech Republic Adam Ondra (winner of the prize in 2008), Chris Sharma from America and for all the King of climbing and to Maja Vidmar from Slovenia, winner of last season's La Sportiva Competition Award. The nominations for this prize went to the Austrian dream team comprised of the young star Johanna Ernst and the "King" and "Queen" of bouldering, Kilian Fischhuber and Anna Stöhr. As if to say, on the Arco Rock Legends stage, just like on the climbing Stadium wall, there will be only the best of the best. It comes as no surprise that the evening will be hosted as usual by Kay Rush and that the official World Championship logo will be introduced during the show. Scheduled to take place in Arco in 2011, the exceptional testimonial for this world-class event is Luisa Iovane, the Italian competition climber who represents the history of sport climbing and its competitions. The evening will be crowned by another world-class guest, Jerry Moffatt from England who represents a true climbing legend of the 1980's and '90's.

From 4 - 6 September Arco will host all the world's climbing stars. Above all though there will be one more main player who we haven't mentioned who makes all of this possible: the thousands of passionate climbers who never fail to enjoy and be amazed by the miracles of these super climbers who live out their same, identical vertical passion.

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