The 5th IFSC Speed World Cup finals brought many surprises, and in the end two long-time Speed stars donned gold medals again in the French commune of Chamonix. 2017 rivals and Speed world record holders Anouck Jaubert and Iuliia Kaplina were both eliminated in the first round of finals on Thursday. Rudzinska and Anna Tsyganova (RUS) advanced to the big final after edging ever-steady Mariia Krasavina (RUS) and home competitor Aurelie Sarisson in close semi-final races. Six years after topping the podium in Chamonix, Rudzinska returned to the spotlight, the sole athlete to record no times above 8 seconds on the Speed wall. In the small final, Krasavina defended her bronze medal.
The surprises continued in the men’s final, with Speed world record holder Reza Alipourshenazandifar (IRI) and Villars victor Aleksandr Shikov (RUS) ending their competition in the first round. Bassa Mawem (FRA) recorded the fastest time in Chamonix (5.63s) and no times above 6 seconds, but the crowd favourite slipped high up on the 15-metre Speed wall in the semi-final race against Boldyrev. In an exciting final matchup, Boldyrev slapped the finishing pad fractions of a second before season leader Dmitrii Timofeev for his second gold medal in four years in Chamonix. In the small final, Mawem steadily climbed to a bronze medal after an early fall from Speed legend Qixin Zhong (CHN).
Lead finals took place the following evening in front of another packed crowd in Chamonix. 8 women and 8 men attempted powerful last routes with dynamic moves at the beginning, a few good rests throughout the steepest section and technical sequences on the concluding panel of the tall Lead wall. Villars victor Janja Garnbret (SLO) surpassed the previous high point and slapped one hand on the final hold for her second podium in 2018 in as many events, but only one woman turned an attempt into a Top. Pilz, who earlier set the high point in semi-finals, creeped across the final holds to match on the top jug and clip the chains with 7 seconds remining, her first IFSC World Cup victory and second podium in a row. Jain Kim (KOR) also made full use of her 6 minutes to come within two moves from the top and remain on the podium as well.
The men’s final came down to the three semi-final leaders. Ghisolfi surpassed all previous marks and concluded his week in Chamonix with another crowd-pleasing top on Friday, his fourth IFSC World Cup win. Alexander Megos (GER) peeled off at the same powerful move on the headwall which stumped Domen Skofic (SLO) for bronze on countback. Villars winner Jakob Schubert ended the event by falling just shy of the top hold to stand on his second podium in 2018.
Shuta Tanaka became the first Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 qualified athlete to compete in an IFSC Lead World Cup final this season in Chamonix, reaching the headwall in his first final to place 6th. French teammates Nolwenn Arc and youth world champion Sam Avezou performed in front of their home crowd in semi-finals, joined by Keita Dohi and Tanaka of Japan and Vita Lukan (SLO). In Speed, YiLing Song of China returned to the finals, recording her personal best time of the season (8.19s) on the way to 9th place.
Results, replays, highlights, photos and more can be found on the Chamonix event page.