After a week of competing at the highest level in Innsbruck, 12 Youth B and 12 Juniors climbed on in the first Combined finals of the IFSC Youth World Championships.
Youth B athletes started the Combined finals, racing up the Speed wall for a chance to stand on the last podiums in Innsbruck. Semen Ovchinnikov of Russia was fastest in the quarterfinal and semi-final. He faced-off against Ryoei Nukui of Japan in the last match, slipping early to give Nukui the provisional lead in the Combined. In the final for the six female finalists, Futaba Ito and Natsuki Tanii of Japan matched each other step-for-step, with Tanii earning the victory by fractions of a second.
There were only tops in the Bouldering final for male athletes. Rei Kawamata of Japan rose to provisional first in the Combined with a perfect score of four flashes, conquering massive features and the dynos of M4 on the first attempt. Ovchinnikov required only one more attempt for his four tops to place second. The final for the female athletes started with a run-and-jump which every finalist completed. A steep F2 and the bolt-hole clusters of F3 troubled a couple athletes, but not Ai Mori of Japan. She was the only climber to flash every problem, including a grueling F4 with powerful roof moves. Tanii placed second by attempts for the provisional lead in the Combined.
On the Lead wall, Hidemasa Nishida set an unmatched high point to finish third in the Combined. Kawamata fell lowest but placed second with his Bouldering victory and Speed score, and Ovchinnikov became the first Combined champion in Innsbruck by scoring well across all three disciplines. Ito, Mori and Tanii closed out the Youth B action. Ito fought the pump to within a few moves from the top for third place, Mori impressed with the first top for second, and Tanii concluded the round with a final top to surpass Mori in the Combined rankings.
The nonstop action on Saturday continued with the Combined finals in Juniors. American Kai Lightner squeezed past Kai Harada of Japan by five hundredths of a second in a quick small final. Yoshiyuki Ogata got off to a good start in the big final but his Japanese teammate Meichi Narasaki, the only finalist to climb below eight seconds, finished strong to place first. Claire Buhrfeind, one of the Speed favorites, fell in the female quarterfinal against Aika Tajima of Japan. Tajima was bested in the small final by Laura Stöckler, racing in front of her home crowd. Her compatriot Franziska Sterrer slipped against Speed standout Iuliia Panteleeva of Russia in the big final. Panteleeva had been fast throughout the round and secured an early lead in the Combined.
Narasaki and Ogata matched their superb Speed results in Bouldering as the only finalists to top the first three problems, with Narasaki placing first by attempts. Harada and Lightner couldn’t solve the slab of M1 but maintained strong positioning in the Combined after cruising past the powerful and dynamic moves of M2 and M3. The first problem proved the difference maker for the female finalists when everyone solved the jump start of F3 and failed to top F2 and F4. Stöckler flashed the tenuous slab problem and placed first, followed by Panteleeva who solved the concluding match perfectly but found one less bonus hold. Margo Hayes of the United States also topped and finished in third place by attempts.
Lead climbing under the lights concluded the first day of Combined finals in Innsbruck. William Bosi of Great Britain fought to a high point which stood for most of the round. Ogata later surpassed Bosi’s mark, leaving a small margin of error for Narasaki. First in Bouldering and Speed, Narasaki needed fourth or better to win the Combined. He did exactly that, battling fatigue after a week of intensive sport climbing for the victory. For the female athletes, Buhrfeind set a formidable mark, but Stöckler stuck the crux dyno and continued onward for the Combined victory in front of a roaring home crowd.