Talented Youth B athletes put on the first display of Lead finals at IFSC Youth World Championships Innsbruck. After inspiring performances from the world’s top youth sport climbers, Japan claimed 4 medals to match Russia’s total of 13, and Colin Duffy won the third gold medal for the United States.
13 male athletes joined 8 female athletes in the finals after six ties in semi-finals for the eighth spot. Two aesthetic lines with a diverse set of movements and holds challenged the young finalists. Saki Kikuchi of Japan set the first high point, falling between two slippery pinches early on the upper panel. Her teammate Futaba Ito, crowned Bouldering champion earlier this week, wowed the crowd by pushing through the crux section and just sticking the back-hand to the finishing hold for the first top. Camille Pouget of France matched Kikuchi’s mark, leaving two Japanese athletes to decide the podium. Natsuki Tanii looked undaunted by the pressure and calmly marched to the top to join Ito on the podium. Ai Mori, who set a commanding high point in semi-finals, duplicated the feat, skipping a move at the crux and keeping it together for the top and gold medal.
On the finals route for the male athletes, multiple finalists struggled to surpass a difficult crux sequence of open handholds and slippery screw-on footholds. Zander Waller of the United States was the first athlete to connect all the moves, falling at the tiny crimps before the top hold. Hidemasa Nishida of Japan fought the pump to attempt the dynamic last move. American Colin Duffy followed and looked confident the whole way, dangling from one arm low on the route and completing the concluding dyno for a medal and wild applause. That medal turned to gold when Alberto Ginés López of Spain peeled off the final hold. Ginés López finished in second place over Nishida by countback to semi-finals, setting a new bench mark for Spain at the IFSC Youth World Championships.
With their strong performances in Bouldering as well as Lead, Japanese athletes Ito, Tanii, Mori and Kikuchi all advanced to the Youth B Combined finals on Saturday. Lead finalist Luce Douady of France will join them, alongside her teammate Nailé Meignan who just missed the finals cut in Bouldering, Lead and Speed. For the male athletes, Bouldering winner Rei Kawamata, Ginés López, Nishida and Duffy all advance, and they will be joined by Bouldering medallists Ryoei Nukui of Japan and Semen Ovchinnikov of Russia.
We will be LIVE for Youth A semi-finals and Youth A and Juniors finals in Lead on Friday at the IFSC homepage. The schedule, results, replays, photos and more can be found on the dedicated Innsbruck event page.