XX Arco Rock Master ready to rumble
The XX Rock Master will take place at Arco, Trentino, Italy this weekend.This is the oldest and most famous sports climbing competition and is reserved for the best of the best only.
14 men and 10 women, currently all the biggest names in sports climbing competitions, will compete for Rock Master no. 20. During their two day test of the oldest and most noble sports climbing competition on the shores of Lake Garda they will be joined by the strongest boulderers in the world, battling it out for the VIIth Sint Roc Bouldering Contest, and the world's fastest vertical sprinters who will check in, albeit briefly, at the Speed contest.
The roped competition (the Rock Master) in Arco's Climbing Stadium arena will be spearheaded by Flavio Crespi, currently the leader of both the World Cup 2006 and the continuously updated world ranking. The anticipation is fever-pitch: no Italian has ever won the climbing Trophy of Trophies. And it's unsurprising therefore that immediately after his 2005 World Cup victory (another first for Italy) the 26 year old from Varese stated the Rock Master as his next objective and dream. This dream has never seemed more real than during this season, even though it's easy to guess that the battle will be tense right up to the final hold: climbing's equivalent of Wimbledon is spectacular because of its uncertainties, and the race for gold is ruthless.
The Italian champion will test his mettle against the Spanish team led by Ramon Julian Puigblanque, winner in 2005, who is joined by the extremely strong Patxi Usobiaga and the 21 year old emerging Eduard Marin Garcia. Talking of young climbers, expectations are high for the 16 year old David Lama from Austria who, during his senior debut, has astounded all with a victory and a second place in the 2006 World Cup. The list of new talent continues with the recently crowned Junior World Champion, 19 year old Sean McColl from Canada, and 17 year old Magnus Midtbo from Norway. All other 2006 revelations will be there, too, such as 21 year old Jorg Verhoeven from Holland who exploded on the world stage last year. 20 year old Daniel Winkler from Switzerland will compete, on form after his second place in the World Cup in Kuala Lampur, as will Timo Preussler from Germany, the winner of this final stage in Malasyia.
The XX Rock Master will be marked by this generation change, but the new vogue of climbers will be contrasted by a series of erxperienced veterans. First and foremost by 24 year old World Champion Tomas Mrazek. He will be followed by the warrior of a thousand battles, 30 year old Christian Bindhammer from Germany (winner in Arco 2001 ex aequo with Mrazek and the “legendary” Hirayama), 28 year old Sylvain Millet from France (currently 7th in the world ranking) and dulcis in fundo, 34 year old Luca Zardini from Italy: a true example of class applied to climbing.
Class certainly isn't something Angela Eiter from Austria is lacking. Despite being just 20 years young the undisputed queen in the world ranking has amassed an extraordinary array of victories, including the World Championship and three straight World Cup and Rock Master victories in a row. 2006 could be "poker" year for unbeatable Eiter and this result would bring her to just a stone's throw from the record 5 victories set by legendary Lynn Hill, the absolute star in world climbing.
Eiter's road to glory will be made difficult by another true champion, Sandrine Levet from France, who this year has decided to concentrate on lead competitions only. Things look good for the bouldering champion, who in Kuala Lumpur managed to interrupt the young Austrian's series of World Cup victories. Levet's efforts to usurp the throne will of course be aided by the best of the best. These include Italian champion Jenny Lavarda, Maja Vidmar and Martina Cufar from Slovenia, Barbara Bacher and Katharina Saurwein from Austria, Chloe' Graftiaux from Belgium, Emily Harrington from the USA and, last but by no means least, the 16 year old French promise Charlotte Durif.
The great competition kicks off on Saturday 2 September at 14.00 and will continue non-stop until Sunday evening. But take note! The appointment for this great climbing celebration begins on Friday evening, at 20.30, with the first edition of the "Arco Rock Legends" during which the following prizes will be awarded: the Salewa Rock Award (for the climber who distinguished him/herself most at the crag, both for their style and how they influenced sports climbing) and the La Sportiva Competition Award (for the athlete who distinguished him/herself most in the competition season 2004/05).
All those nominated by the pool of international magazines will be there: Daniel Andrada, Josune Bereziartu, Yuji Hirayama, Chris Sharma and Maurizio “Manolo” Zanolla for the Salewa Rock Award whilst Flavio Crespi, Angela Eiter and Tomas Mrazek are in the running for the La Sportiva Competition Award. It's as if to say: sports climbing galore at Arco from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 September!
ROCK MASTER TEAM
Associazione Rock Master, Provincia Autonoma Trento, Regione Trentino Alto Adige, InGarda, Cassa Rurale Alto Garda, Azienda Municipalizzata Sviluppo Arco, La Sportiva, Cassin, Salewa, Vertical Sport, Sint Roc & Ecogrip, Pareti, PlanetMountain.com, Soccorso Alpino Guardia Finanza, Centro Addestramento Alpino Polizia, Soccorso Alpino SAT Arco, Scuola Alpinismo and Gruppo Alpinismo Giovanile SAT Arco, Guide Alpine Friends of Arco, Ass. Sportiva ArcoClimbing.
Technical sporting director: Angelo Seneci
Route setters: Leonardo Di Marino - Donato Lella - Jacky Godoffe - Alberto Gnerro
Photo: Flavio Crespi, 2005 (Giulio Malfer)