Keqiao 2024
IFSC World Cup Series 2024

The first IFSC World Cup of the year got underway with Boulder qualification in Keqiao, China, at the stunning purpose-built Shaoxing Keqiao Yangshan Climbing Center.

Opening its doors for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, a few lucky climbers already have the feel for the wall from that experience, but for the vast majority it is the very first time they will attempt a boulder in the new arena.

First up were the 60 women, and it will come as no surprise that Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret finished top of her group with five flashed problems. In an Olympic year, the current, and one and only, women’s Olympic gold medallist has the ‘start as you mean to go on’ attitude.

Janja said: “Before the start of the season it’s always a bit of a mystery and always a little bit nervous because I know I have been training hard over the winter but you never know what the other girls will do and how hard they have been training. Today I wasn’t nervous at all, I was very excited to start the season and I enjoyed all the boulders and very focused, mental sharp and I had a lot of fun.”

Garnbret shares top spot with Japan’s Nonaka Miho and Australia’s Oceania Mackenzie who also flashed all five boulders, but this time both in Group B.

Mackenzie said: “I would say today was a bit of an easier round, in the B group especially. Coming into this competition I have been feeling good in my preparation, but the first one of the season is always a little scary as you don’t know how you will do and how everyone else is climbing. I feel good after the round and I climbed really confidently, so I am happy.”

Standing alone in fourth spot, Great Britain’s Erin McNeice is into the semi-finals topping four Group A boulders, and the Brit is eager to continue: “I’m really excited for tomorrow. The blocks today were really good. It was a bit nerve-wracking as it is the first one of the season but I’m really excited to get another chance to climb tomorrow.

“I prefer two consecutive days of climbing. I think I would be bored if I had a rest day, I’ve already had two and I don’t want another one.”

Group B had six climbers that topped all five problems, with home favourite Luo Zhilu among the climbers joining Nonaka and Mackenzie on a full house.

In Group A the going was a little tougher with only Garnbret and McNeice scoring higher than three tops. Some of the climbers making semis from the group were USA’s Kyra Condie and Austria’s Jessica Pilz who is very much focused on one event in 2024, making for a very chilled season opener.

Pilz said: “I think compared to other seasons I’m not as nervous because it’s not too important yet. I’m taking this competition as training and see how my training is going.

“My big event is in a few months [the Olympic Games] so I have a different timeline to be in shape compared to some of the other athletes, so I’m not too nervous actually.”

To hear more from the athletes at IFSC World Cup Keqiao click here

For full results click here

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