IFSC WORLD CUP SERIES 2023: THE STORY SO FAR
With the city of Prague, Czech Republic, just days away from making its IFSC World Cup debut, and the Series switching continents to Europe, it is a good time to check-in and look back at the events so far and pick out a few key moments.
The IFSC World Cup Prague 2023 will welcome Boulder athletes from 2 to 4 June for the fifth event of the 2023 series – the 387th in the history of the IFSC – but the year began in Asia, when Hachioji, Japan, opened the season from 21 to 23 April.
There were a few firsts ticked off in Hachioji, and non-more emotional than USA’s Brooke Raboutou claiming her first-ever IFSC World Cup gold medal. Making her World Cup debut in Vail, USA, in 2017, Raboutou took her first-ever World Cup medal in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, in 2021.
A run of three silvers and six bronze then followed, before taking the top step in Japan to make the American smile even more than she usually does.
Another first was an IFSC World Cup medal, in any discipline, for a Belgian male. That honour went to Hannes Van Duysen who took silver in his 10th participation. The young climber is no stranger to the podium in the youth ranks, twice claiming gold at the IFSC Youth World Championships in the Boulder discipline – at Voronezh 2021 and Dallas 2022 – and now he is taking that experience through to the senior competition.
After Japan, Boulder athletes headed straight to Seoul, South Korea, to be joined by the Speed climbers. Taking place from 28 to 30 April, the event was marked with multiple Speed world records.
Indonesia’s Veddriq Leonardo broke the magic 5-second barrier three times in Seoul, with two of them world bests. The men’s record now stands at 4.90.
Not to be outdone, Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw also lowered the women’s Speed world record, but she did it four times. At the start of the day Miroslaw held the record at 6.53 which she set in Salt Lake City last year. By the end of the day the record stood at 6.25 – via 6.46, 6.37 and 6.35.
While the Speed took advantage of the dry weather, the Boulder athletes were not so lucky. A torrential downpour shifted qualification and meant that the finals for both men and women would contain 20 athletes and use the semi-final format. Coming out on top in Boulder were Japan’s Nonaka Miho and France’s Mejdi Schalck.
For Schalck, it was the third IFSC World Cup gold of his young career, but it was the second in two events as he started the season with gold medals from both Hachioji and Seoul. For Nonaka, it seemed quite surprising that it was her first World Cup gold in five years, with her last coming in Meiringen, Switzerland, in 2018.
With the Boulder athletes taking a break, the Speed athletes moved to Jakarta, Indonesia from 6 to 7 May – where a very strong men’s squad were keen to please a home crowd.
Backing up from Seoul, Miroslaw again added gold to her ever-increasing collection which stood at 12 in South Korea.
With current record holder Veddriq in Jakarta, and former record holder and teammate Kiromal Katibin also in action, the expectation was high for a home win. But, despite delivering the crowd-pleasing display they craved, it was neither of those big names but another Indonesian speedster, Nursamsa Raharjati, who took the top spot in his third World Cup appearance.
Moving from Asia to North America, and specifically Salt Lake City, the Paraclimbing athletes joined the party for the first of their three World Cups of the 2023 season.
From 16 to 17 May, paraclimbers from around the world came together to compete across 13 sport classes with the home nation picking up four gold medals. There was also a first in this event as Chile’s Ignacio Martinez became the first from his nation to compete at an IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup. You can find out more about Martinez here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO5jTgTDOmE
With Boulder and Speed back on the menu from 19 to 21 May, Poland’s Miroslaw increased her golden tally to 13 and a perfect three from three for 2023. Veddriq also returned to Seoul form with a gold medal for the men.
When it comes to Boulder in Salt Lake City, it seems that there is a monopoly happening. If there is an IFSC World Cup gold medal available for the women in Boulder, USA’s Natalia Grossman wants it. The American has made five World Cup appearances in Salt Lake City, and she has got five gold medals to show for it.
The look back would not be complete without mentioning Slovenia’s Jernej Kruder, who became the all-time appearance record holder for the Boulder discipline when he took to the wall in Salt Lake City for his 84th participation.
Before heading onto the European portion of the IFSC World Cup Series 2023, Paul Highams, who has been providing some stats and facts for the events so far, picked out a few notable trends for us:
“For women’s Boulder – the trend seems to be that it is becoming more and more difficult to get further in competitions with strength and depth in the field increasing. While in men’s Boulder there is an increase of debutants and athletes with only a few appearances to making finals. It means that the more established athletes have to keep pushing as the base of the field becomes stronger.
“In Speed – the gaps in time are closing between all the competitors and the times needed to qualify for finals are getting lower and lower, which means good, tight racing and duels on the wall.”
The IFSC World Cup Series 2023 will touch down in Brixen, Italy; followed by Innsbruck, Austria; Villars, Switzerland; Chamonix, France; and Briançon, France; before the much-anticipated IFSC World Championships Bern 2023.
News and updates about all IFSC events will be available on the IFSC website, and on the Federation’s digital channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and specifically for the Chinese audience, Douyin and Weibo.