Italy and Japan excelled in the men’s semi-final, each team sending three athletes to finals in Kranj, hosting Lead World Cup events since 1996. Big moves and an early nerve-testing jump opened the men’s final route, followed by a bat-hang at the route’s most over-hanging section as it curved across the short but challenging Lead wall. Marcello Bombardi of Italy began the final by setting a formidable high point just over a handful of moves from the top hold, but Japan’s Masahiro Higuchi efficiently solved the first crux move at the bat-hang to match Bombardi’s high point for his first IFSC World Cup medal on countback to their semi-final scores. Ghisolfi cruised through the first crux as well and fought the pump on the concluding moves to complete the first top in finals and secure a medal in Kranj. That medal turned to gold when Lead world champion Jakob Schubert (AUT), powering his way to the top hold, peeled off the last move to place 2nd. It was the 2nd victory for Ghisolfi this year, who improved to 29 points behind Schubert in the Lead season rankings with only two events remaining. Veteran Sean McColl (CAN), competing in his first Lead final this season, wowed the crowd with an eye-popping one-handed grab at the dyno and finished in 5th place. Yuki Hada and Kokoro Fujii of Japan and Italy’s Francesco Vettorata also competed in finals and climbed well this weekend.
Three Austrian and two Slovenian athletes advanced to the women’s final in Kranj. Big moves started the women’s final route too, with another risky jump early on the wall followed by technical positioning to conserve energy and maintain friction on the overhanging sections of the route. Austrian Katharina Posch started strong by sticking the jump and continuing onward for an early lead. The next three finalists dropped at the dyno: veteran Mina Markovic of Slovenia, competing in her 15th Lead World Cup in Kranj, and Katherine Choong (SUI) and 16-year-old Natsumi Hirano (JPN), IFSC World Cup finalists for the first time. Hannah Schubert stuck the jump and surpassed teammate Posch’s high point for her first IFSC World Cup medal, falling at the steepest section of the Lead wall where footholds disappear and handholds become even more slippery. Lead season frontrunner Janja Garnbret of Slovenia fell at the same upper crux move, moving ahead on countback to their semi-final scores but leaving the door open for Lead world champion Jessica Pilz of Austria and Kim. Only Garnbret and Pilz had won gold medals in Lead this season before Kranj, but that changed when Pilz struggled at the technical moves following the jump to finish between teammates Schubert and Posch. Last to climb in Kranj, Kim held the crux sloper and rose to the headwall for her 28th IFSC World Cup victory. Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 qualified athletes Vita Lukan and Lucka Rakovec of Slovenia placed 20th and 24th at home, one week before Buenos Aires. Visit the Kranj event page for full results and replays.
The IFSC World Cup season concludes with the 2nd stage of the 2018 China Tour in Wujiang and Xiamen, the final Lead and Speed events. Tune-in for the LIVE streaming of semi-final and final rounds on October 21st and 28th. The schedules, starters and 2017 highlights can be found on the Wujiang and Xiamen event pages.