With a day of Lead qualification and semi-finals at the Plus Climbing centre in Koper, climbing fans quickly learned who would be fighting for the IFSC World Cup medals on offer from the Slovenian coast as the last eight men and women were left standing.

Heading the women’s field seems to be a re-match of Koper 2022 as both home favourite Janja Garnbret and Japan’s Mori Ai resume their on-wall rivalry.

The Japanese climber took the honours last season and is the current Lead world champion after taking gold last month in Bern, but it is the Olympic champion that is in pole position currently. Both reached hold 35+ in the semi-finals with countback to qualification and two tops putting the Slovenian ahead.

With a parallel to the Bern podium, World Championships bronze medallist is once again hot on the heels of the top two as South Korea’s Seo Chaehyun climbed to 34 for third.

Seo said: “It was super hard. There was no rest at all. I used all of my energy. Qualification was tough already, and semi-finals was even harder. I think it is going be even tougher again for the final. I just want to enjoy the final now and enjoy the whole atmosphere and the crowd.”

Japan’s Tanii Natsuki also matched Seo’s 34 and sits in fourth just ahead of IFSC World Cup Briancon winner Vita Lukan who seemed to take energy from the crowd to reach hold 33 and fifth for a finals place.

The last three finalists all reached 31+ with countback to semi-finals putting Italy’s Laura Rogora in sixth, another home climber in Slovenia’s Mia Krampl in seventh and Japan’s Kume Nonoha eighth. 

Full women’s results can be found here In the last three competitions Japan’s Anraku Sorato has a podium’s worth of medals. A gold from the World Cup in Briancon, silver from the World Championships in Bern, and a bronze from the World Cup in Chamonix – finishing on hold 45 in the men’s semi-finals, you wouldn’t bet against the young gun taking another home from Koper.

His nearest rival is Great Britain’s Toby Roberts who sits second on hold 37+. Whilst Anraku was taking a bronze in Chamonix, Roberts was cruising to the gold so the crowd will be hoping for more fireworks come finals time from the two young climbers.

Sitting third is USA’s Jesse Grupper who seemed to be smiling and enjoying his climbing. After a good qualification earlier in the day the American goes into the final in third on hold 32+.

Two German climbers are next up as Yannick Flohe sits in fourth on hold 31+ ahead of teammate Alex Megos on hold 29+ and a fifth position.

Flohe said: “I really enjoyed the climb. I always look forward to tough routes where you can give a real fight and this was one of them. I was actually surprised it was so hard at the beginning, and from the campus section on it just kept going. I really enjoyed it though.

“To be honest I’m just really happy to be back in a Lead final. I had my best result here last year, but I don’t have any real expectations as this is my last World Cup of the season. I’ve already reached my goal so just try to climb as well as I can, that’s it.” 

Also making hold 29+ was France’s Sam Avezou in sixth ahead of last year’s winner and firm fan favourite, Slovenia’s Luka Potocar who reached hold 27. Olympic champion Alberto Gines Lopez of Spain came through qualification in top spot and makes the final in eighth position with hold 25+.

Full men’s results can be found here

Seo Chaehyun (KOR) competes in Lead at the IFSC World Cup KoperPhoto: Jan Virt/IFSC

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