Gold For China and a New World Record
The last Speed Climbing competition of 2019 went out with a bang, complete with freshly crowned season champions and a new world record.
Going into the men’s final, 14 of the 16 climbers had recorded times under 6 seconds with QiXin ZHONG of China coming within one-hundredth of a second of equaling the men’s world record set by Reza ALIPOURSHENAZANDIFAR (IRI). ZHONG was also the first climber out on the wall against Pierre REBREYEND (FRA) where he easily advanced to the next round. He kept up the momentum and fast times to knock Bassa MAWEM (FRA) out of the competition in the round of eight before ultimately coming out on top in the big final versus Lev RUDATSKIY (RUS) to take home his first gold of the season on home soil.
After MAWEM’s early exit, Russia’s Vladislav DEULIN had a chance of taking over the first-place position on the overall podium, but with a bronze medal at today’s event it wasn’t enough and he had to settle with second place for the year. This is the second year in a row that MAWEM has clinched the overall Speed title. Despite also dropping out of the competition early, Alfian MUHAMMAD (INA) placed third for the season.
Indonesia Wins big
The women also clocked in incredibly fast times in Xiamen as they raced for the final World Cup 2019 gold medal and a chance to stand on the overall podium. Crowd favorite, YiLing SONG (CHN) didn’t have a clean start to the competition with a big stumble in the first race, after a miraculous recovery she managed to advance to the big final. Anouck JAUBERT (FRA) needed to put on a strong performance to have a chance of overcoming SONG’s claim at the top of the overall rankings but ultimately ended in fourth place in Xiamen after a big stumble in her race against Mariia KRASAVINA (RUS) in the small final. JAUBERT finished the season second in the overall rankings.
The big final for the women saw two powerhouses go head-to-head. Before the race began, both SONG and Aries SUSANTI RAHAYU (INA) toed the world record time set by SONG in Wujiang this past May, with SUSANTI RAHAYU claiming the faster time. In the final race of the night, both climbers exploded out of their starting positions but SONG quickly fell behind. Despite the clear victory, SUSANTI RAHAYU did not slow down and reached the top with a time of 6.99 seconds, setting a new world record and becoming the first woman in the history of the sport to record a time under 7 seconds.
SONG finished the competition in Xiamen in second place but took the overall Speed season title in front of her home crowd. With her stunning performance and win of the night, SUSANTI RAHAYU found the third-place spot on the overall podium.
Unbeatable ONDRA and SEO
The Lead finals in Xiamen were tight with an unbelievable number of ties recorded at the end of the previous round. As the wall was not as steep as ones from prior competitions, the setters needed to be creative to challenge the climbers leading to a nail-biting finish.
After a semi-final that resulted in 2 ties for the men’s finalist, the tension was high. Going into the competition Alberto GINÉS LÓPEZ (ESP), JESSE GRUPPER (USA) and Adam ONDRA (CZE) were tied in second place, while Sean BAILEY (USA) and Taisei HOMMA (JPN) were tied for sixth. If another tie occurred between any of these climbers, the results would be determined by time for the podium places.
Tomoa NARASAKI (JPN) who narrowly found a spot on the finals roster started the event with an incredible performance, completing the route in less than three minutes. With such a quick and easy finish, it appeared that the finals were going to go the way of both previous rounds, but a low fall from BAILEY proved otherwise.
The leader after the semi-final, as the only climber to get past the crux at hold 31, Kai HARADA (JPN) looked strong as he made his way up the route. He managed to be the fourth climber to find a way to the top of the wall and looked poised to take his first Lead World Cup medal but couldn’t stick the final hold and landed in fourth place.
The frontrunner of the overall season rankings, ONDRA finished his finals run with style by asking the crowd to cheer for him before securing the final clip which ultimately granted him his third gold medal of the Lead season. HOMMA took the silver while his compatriot NARASAKI claimed the bronze.
All in the Timing
The women had even more ties than the men going in the final half of the evening. Japan’s Ai MORI and Lucka RAKOVEC (SLO) were tied for eighth, legends Jain KIM (KOR) and Akiyo NOGUCHI (JPN) were tied for fourth, while Janja GARNBRET (SLO) and Chaehyun SEO (KOR) were both in first.
RAKOVEC made easy work for the route only to miss the final hold, bringing worry that the set might be too easy for the climbers and results would have to be determined by time. The first to successfully top the wall was KIM with 4 seconds remaining on the clock. Her result was immediately beaten by NOGUCHI, tying the two athletes again, but NOGUCHI moved ahead due to her faster climbing time. NOGUCHI got the silver, while Kim took home the bronze.
The top two climbers of the season were the last ones out and despite looking shaky on the final move, SEO secured the clip with a minute and a half left. The only person in her way to yet another gold was GARNBRET. The Slovenian blazed up the wall and reached the final move with over two minutes remaining and looked to have finally reclaimed her spot on the top of the podium, but in her attempt to dyno to the hold she missed to place fourth. With her fourth gold medal of 2019, SEO is the undisputed Lead Season champion.