The IFSC World Cup Series 2023 moves on to Seoul, South Korea, this weekend with the Jungnang Sport Climbing Stadium at Yongma Waterfall Park hosting the Boulder and Speed disciplines from 28 to 30 April 2023.

As the Boulder athletes hop across the East Sea to Seoul from the World Cup season opener in Hachioji, Japan, the Speed athletes take their first steps in the 2023 season – a year full of anticipation for a sub-5 speed run.

For the first round of the 2023 IFSC World Cup, USA’s Brooke Raboutou and France’s Mejdi Schalck took the top prize, with the American taking a maiden World Cup gold.

Raboutou and Schalck now turn their attention to defending the medals they secured in Hachioji. For everyone else in the Boulder competition, it’s how they can take them away in Seoul.

One of the 169 athletes set to compete in Boulder is home nation favourite Chon Jongwon who has now shaken off some early season nerves, although with a finals appearance in Hachioji you would never know: “The first World Cup of the season I am always so nervous. My goal every competition is to make finals, which I did in Japan, but I was very nervous, and I don’t know why. 

“I feel ready now to compete in Seoul. I am full of confidence, and I am so ready.”

As one of the, as he calls himself, ‘older’ athletes on the circuit, Jongwon is putting in the time to get in great shape for the season ahead, something he feels he has to do to continue in the sport: “There were a few surprises in Japan. There were some strong guys who didn’t even make semi-finals. 

“That goes to show the strength of the competition now. We have a new generation of young climbers and us old guys need to train even harder to keep up.”

With a new generation breaking through, Jongwon picks his ones-to-watch in Seoul: “Well obviously, the ones to watch are all the Korean men. On the women’s side, I hope Seo Chaehyun does well, but you also have to look at Brooke [Raboutou], she did great last time. 

“Then you have Natalia [Grossman], she will definitely be back, and she won here in Korea last year.”

USA’s Grossman won five Boulder World Cup events in 2022, one of them in Seoul, but in Hachioji the American missed out on finals. She will be looking to get back on track and has the opportunity to do so quickly with two World Cup’s so close together.

In the men’s Boulder in Hachioji there were two French medals with Schalck and teammate Paul Jenft picking up gold and bronze, respectively. In an Olympic qualification year, they will be looking to continue building throughout the season with a home Games on the horizon. 

Making history in Hachioji was Belgium’s Hannes Van Duysen who claimed the first-ever men's World Cup medal, in any of the disciplines, for his country. With only a week turnaround in competition the Belgian climber will hope he can use the adrenaline and excitement to take another medal and double his tally.

When it comes to Speed, anyone who follows social media will see there are some rapid times being posted, even Jongwon thinks 2023 will set new standards for Speed: “You hear rumours and see things on social media that people are climbing fast. I think for sure we will see a four-something this year.”

Kiromal Katibin from Indonesia was breaking his own record time after time in 2022. USA’s Sam Watson has seen a sub-5 in training. At a recent event in Italy Matteo Zurloni posted a 5.04 narrowly beating fellow Italian Ludovico Fossali who tapped at 5.06. The gap is closing, and an official sub-5 is looking like a matter of sooner rather than later. 

This time last year the women’s Speed record was the 6.84 that Aleksandra Miroslaw clocked at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Since then, the Polish climber has lowered the record twice. Now standing at 6.53, there’s high expectations for Miroslaw to lower it for a third time, especially with an unofficial world record of 6.39 at the recent Polish Championships.

Polish sisters, Aleksandra and Natalia Kalucka, will once again push for the podium. USA’s Emma Hunt took silver in Seoul last year and is looking to upgrade to gold this year. Then there’s a strong contingent from China. If the men are looking at a sub-5, the question is what can the women achieve in 2023? Whatever it is, it’s going to be exciting to find out.

The IFSC World Cup Seoul begins with Speed qualification on 28 April at 12:15 (UTC+9:00) before the men’s and women’s finals at 20:00 (UTC+9:00).

News and updates about the event will be available on the  IFSC official website, and on the Federation’s digital channels:  Facebook,  Instagram,  Twitter,  YouTube, and  TikTok.

230427 IFSC News Japan to South Korea with a bit of speedChon Jongwon in action at IFSC World Cup Hachioji
Photo: Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC 


IFSC World Cup Series 2023

© 2019 ifsc-climbing.org    All Rights Reserved