Reigning Lead season champions Romain Desgranges (FRA) and Janja Garnbret (SLO) began their campaigns for the title with victories in Villars last year. Both stars will aim for gold again this week in the season opener. Garnbret dominated the Combined rankings in 2017, claiming more victories (9) in a single IFSC World Cup season than any athlete before her. She showed similar signs of excellence in the beginning of the Bouldering season and should impress again on the towering Lead walls of Villars and Chamonix. Desgranges narrowly missed the top of the Lead podium in front of thousands of home fans last year in Chamonix, and the top-ranked Lead athlete will again be one to watch this year. Also on the Lead season podium in 2017, Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA), Jain Kim (KOR) and Anak Verhoeven (BEL) are all on the start list for Villars. Keep an eye on Ashima Shiraishi (USA), who soared to 8th place in the season rankings in half as many events, as well as Alexander Megos of Germany, who both ended 2017 with medals.
On the Speed wall, Bassa Mawem and Anouck Jaubert of France hold the fastest times in 2018 (5.61s; 7.32s), and Jaubert matched the women’s Speed world record at the season opener in Moscow. They will race against another formidable team from Russia, who has yet to lose the National Team ranking in Speed climbing. Dmitrii Timofeev of Russia moved to first place in the season rankings with two strong performances in China in May, and Elena Timofeeva has also already stood on two podiums this season. Speed legend QiXin Zhong of China will race in the IFSC World Cup series for the first time this season in Villars and Chamonix, and men’s Speed world record holder and 2017 Athlete of the Year Reza Alipourshenazandifar (IRI) returns after missing the last event. The full list of starting athletes, schedules, 2017 replays and photos can be found on the Villars and Chamonix event pages on the IFSC website.
13 qualified athletes for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires are registered to compete in Villars and Chamonix, the most at an IFSC World Cup event. Nolwenn Arc (FRA), 11th in Villars and Chamonix last year, and 2017 Villars finalist Laura Rogora (ITA) climb for the first time this year in Villars. Arc will be joined by French teammates Sam Avezou and Nathan Martin in Chamonix, their first IFSC World Cup of 2018. Reigning Youth A Lead world champion Shuta Tanaka of Japan will make his IFSC World Cup debut on Friday in Lead and Speed, and Alejandra Contreras of Chile will test both Sport Climbing disciplines next week in Chamonix
Tune-in to the IFSC homepage on July 6-7 and 12-13 to watch the live streaming of semi-final and final rounds, and join the chat on Twitter during the show at #IFSCwc.