Thousands of fans gathered in downtown Briançon, France, for the third IFSC World Cup of the Lead season. Despite rain in finals, the best Lead climbing athletes in the world put on an impressive show.
Many rising stars were on the cusp of the finals cut on Friday. For Great Britain, Molly Thompson-Smith placed 11th and James Pope finished in 16th place at their first IFSC World Cup of the year. Sam Avezou finished 11th in front of his home crowd, and Brooke Raboutou, Viktoriia Meshkova, Julia Fiser and Vita Lukan also climbed well on the first day.
Salomé Romain was first to climb in finals and energized the local crowd, with Briançon as her hometown. Like Margo Hayes and Jessica Pilz, she fell just before the headwall on a powerful sequence with slippery feet. Julia Chanourdie of France found alternative beta, fastening a toe hook and progressing four moves further. Her high point lasted until the last three finalists, a formidable trio finishing among the top four athletes at every Lead event this season. Korean Jain Kim secured a spot on the podium by pushing well into the upper section, followed shortly by Anak Verhoeven of Belgium who set the bar two moves further. Janja Garnbret, frontrunner in the women’s Lead rankings, was last to climb. She ascended steadily throughout the route, sustaining enough strength to grab one more move than Verhoeven for her third consecutive IFSC World Cup win. She has yet to lose this Lead season.
The men’s final was immediately difficult, with multiple athletes falling early. Among them was IFSC World Cup Chamonix winner Marcello Bombardi of Italy. A challenging two-hand dyno separated the next competitors, with both Sean Bailey and Masahiro Higuchi failing to complete the move statically. Stefano Ghisolfi of Italy and Canadian Sean McColl succeeded by cutting feet, and McColl pushed well into the upper section. With Romain Desgranges as the last climber, the stage was again set for an exciting finish. Beginning the crux statically, the Frenchman switched mid-sequence and cut feet for an excited crowd. He continued on to collect two more holds than McColl, winning at home and expanding his lead in the men’s rankings.