The fourth Lead World Cup of the 2019 season took place this past weekend in Kranj, Slovenia. Only 125 athletes registered, fewer than in the previous Lead World Cups. Despite the smaller showing, the stadium was packed with a supportive crowd while the top competitors climbed through tricky sequences on a sea of volumes.
No climbers from the U.S. made finals, however Kyra Condie achieved her best Lead placement ever by finishing 14th. Ashima Shiraishi (USA), who has made two Lead World Cup finals this year, finished 16th. Sean Bailey placed 14th and Jesse Grupper placed 24th.
On the women’s side, last year’s winner Jain Kim (KOR) missed qualifying for finals by one spot. Kim tied with six other competitors, but was 9th place by count-back to the qualification round. Hometown favorite and winner of the Lead, Bouldering and Combined World Championships, Janja Garnbret (SLO), fell surprisingly low in the semifinal round and placed 13th.
The women’s final round showed little athlete separation, with the bottom four competitors all falling on the same reachy move.The top four all fell on the same volume three-quarters of the way up the wall, but were separated by count-backs or movements. Chaehyun Seo (KOR) just barely came out with first, making a hat-trick of her 2019 Lead wins. Seo, just 15 years old, currently has a clear first-place lead in the Overall 2019 Lead ranking.
“I really didn’t think about it because my condition wasn’t the best,” Seo told IFSC. “So I’m so confused, but it’s really an honor.”
Behind Seo, Jessica Pilz (AUT) placed second and Lucka Rakovec (SLO) placed third.
In both the semifinal and final rounds, the men’s field was better separated. Adam Ondra (CZE), after a disappointing Combined World Championships in Hachioji, was ready for some redemption. Ondra was in first place following the semifinal round, ahead of Jakob Schubert (AUT) and Kai Harada (JPN).
Ondra kept the stoke going in the final round, turning around mid-climb several times to encourage the cheering crowd. He was the only competitor to top the route.
“I just like this event way too much, and I wanted to just come here and enjoy,” Ondra told IFSC. “I climbed without any pressure and it paid off and felt great. The audience was probably the best that I ever remembered and it was the first time that I topped the route [in a Kranj World Cup final], which is the experience.”
Harada placed second and 16-year-old Alberto Ginés López (ESP), who placed third in the recent Youth World Championships, placed third.
Full results can be found on ifsc-climbing.org. The fifth Lead World Cup and final Speed World Cup is in three weeks in Xiamen, China.
Feature Image by Eddie Fowke