LEHMANN GETS GOLD AS GARNBRET DOUBLES UP
Bringing the curtain down on the IFSC World Cup Innsbruck was the men’s and women’s Lead competitions as Janja Garnbret completed another golden double and Sascha Lehmann took top spot.
In the first action of the night, the women’s Lead competition ignited the crowd as Slovenia’s Garnbret once again completed an Innsbruck Boulder and Lead golden double – a feat she achieved in 2021 - before a home crowd favourite reached the podium.
With the Boulder gold medal secure, Garnbret had to pull out all the stops to get ahead of Japan’s Mori Ai and South Korea’s Seo Chaehyun who had come through the semi-finals ahead of the Olympic champion.
Garnbret climbed into the lead reaching hold 39+ to leave the benchmark for the following two climbers, but they couldn’t quite hit the same heights. Mori did secure a silver medal reaching 33+ but Seo fell at 25 – a fall which would hand the Austrian Jessica Pilz the bronze, much to the delight of the crowd.
Garnbret said: "I loved the route. It was incredible. Even during the observation I knew it was hard, but this is what we like. We like to show how we fight and what we train for, so this is exactly what we got and I enjoyed every minute of it.
"I’m incredibly grateful to win both the Boulder and Lead, even more grateful because I’m coming back from injury. I’ve never had an injury before so I had no experience or expectations and it’s even more amazing coming back because there were a lot of doubts, crying and just a lot of negative thoughts, so coming back on top I’m incredibly grateful."
For Pilz, her 25+ was a tie with the USA’s Brooke Raboutou but the Austrian’s superior semi-final performance gave her the edge, and the podium spot – her first World Cup medal since Kranj, Slovenia in 2019.
Pilz said: "It was super nice to climb at home here. The crowd was amazing. I wasn’t too happy with my climbing, it was tough to stick the move and I wasn’t satisfied when I fell. I thought for sure the others would beat me, so it was a nice surprise for sure to be back on the podium, it’s definitely been a while.
"It’s great to be on the podium at home, it definitely means more than anywhere else. It feels really good."
Full women’s Lead results here
The last climb of the night was taken by Switzerland’s Lehmann in the men’s Lead competition, and it was a closely run thing with Alexander Megos from Germany who had set the early marker reaching hold 44+.
As the night rolled in, Lehmann made steady progress up the Innsbruck wall and was getting closer to the magic golden mark, and the crowd were letting him know as the noise level raised inside the Kletterzentrum.
When Lehmann fell attempting hold 45, it took a few seconds of his descent to realise he had taken the win – and after the realisation had set in, so did the smile and the celebration.
Lehmann said: "I knew I could climb well and I am a strong climber, but it’s a packed field, we saw that in Boulder with so many young athletes coming in. My Boulder season didn’t go that well so I hoped I could do better in Lead. I worked hard at Lead, but I wasn’t sure where I was at. I know I can perform on the big stage, and I did, so it feels amazing.
"You always do a move and think it feels good in the warm-up, and the atmosphere here is great, but in the end when you go out to the route it’s not thinking anymore, it’s just climbing. Do your thing, stay calm, do the moves and perform well."
Just pipped at the post by Lehmann, Megos was still cheering for Lehmann, as he had done all final long.
Megos said: "I knew I climbed well, but I didn't expect to be on the podium tonight. I think what was remarkable in this competition is that between the first and ninth climber there were only four moves, and nobody made a big mistake. In my mind, if I win a medal it's because I climbed better than the others, not because somebody else made a mistake, so I'm happy to cheer for all the other climbers once I'm done.
"The next generation is coming, and it's coming fast. Sorato is 16 and he did three rounds in Boulder, then three rounds in Lead, and he doesn't seem to be tired at all. His climbing style is crazy, I'm sure he will win many more medals in the future."
Another crowd roar was let out for another Austrian climber and home favourite, Jakob Schubert. Schubert had been pushed on by the crowd all event long, and the final was no different. That push and drive helped the Austrian secure a bronze.
Schubert said: "Obviously it feels amazing having a podium, and having it here in Innsbruck. It's a great start for the Lead season, but also for myself. This one's always a very special World Cup, there is more pressure for sure, more nervousness than any other event, but it's also way more rewarding.
"Experience can still play an important role, especially in Lead, and I believe we, the old guys, can still compete with the young guns."
Full men’s Lead results here
The IFSC World Cup now moves on to Villars, Switzerland from 30 June to 2 July for the Lead and Speed disciplines.
Janja Garnbret and Sascha Lehmann celebrate Lead gold in Innsbruck
Photo: Jan Virt/IFSC