Roberts and Grossman Take Gold in Brixen Heat

Toby Roberts becomes the first British gold medalist in 16 years and Natalia Grossman confirms she is back with a win in Brixen

Toby Roberts topping Men's four to win his first gold at the 2023 IFSC Boulder World Cup in Brixen
Toby Roberts topping Men's four to win his first gold © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

Toby Roberts won gold in Brixen ahead of Dohyun Lee and Yoshiyuki Ogata after topping the final boulder of the competition. He became the first British Male Boulder gold medalist since Andrew Earl won at La Réunion in 2007, 16 years ago.

Natalia Grossman won her second gold of the season ahead of Chaehyun Seo and Stasa Geo after topping all the boulders in the finals.

Four Japanese Men Were in the final: Tomoa Narasaki, Meichi Narasaki, Sorato Anarku, and Yoshyuki Ogata. An impressive Toby Roberts came first in the semi-finals, and the Prague winner, Dohyun Lee, was the other finalist. Adam Ondra would not repeat his performance from Prague, placing 19th out of 20 in the semi-finals with two zones.

In the final, the first boulder separated the field well with its technical jump to the zone hold with a footkick and a powerful thuggy finish. Roberts and Lee topped it. Ogata and M. Narasaki reached the zone hold but could not work out the top section. Anraku and T. Narasaki could not work out the jump and footkick and failed to reach the zone hold. The second boulder was the hardest of the round. Only Roberts and Anraku made it past the zone hold. While Anraku reached the top, Roberts got stuck and spent too long on the sloper, sapping his energy. The third boulder on the slab was the easiest, with every athlete topping it but taking a different number of attempts.

Meichi Narasaki on the first men's final boulder of the 2023 IFSC World Cup in Brixen, Italy.
Meichi Narasaki on the first men’s final boulder © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

Boulder Four would be where the final would be decided. Ogata and Narasaki came out first and second and flashed the boulder, making it easy. The audience was worried we would have a flashback to the final boulder in Prague, where every athlete flashed it. However, that would not be the case. Anraku and T. Narasaki could not stick the jump to the zone hold, while Lee could not work out the press from zone out to the slopers at the top of the wall. It took Roberts three attempts to work out the press move from the zone to the next hold and top out the boulder with only 20 seconds remaining.

By topping the final boulder, Roberts became the fourth British male to win a World Cup, after Malcolm Smith (Lecco 2002), Mark Croxall (Birmingham 2005), and Andrew Earl (Le Reunion 2007).

The women’s final was more predictable and had a lot of tops. On the first boulder, the first jump to the zone was tricky. Only Oceania MacKenzie and Stasa Gejo would get the zone hold on their first try and go on to top it. The final press move presented a different challenge to the athletes, with Chaehyun Seo not able to extend far enough to press into the top hold.

Grossman came out last, and although the jump to the zone took three tries, she easily topped out. The second boulder was the hardest of the round. A powerful boulder started with a double-toe hook on dual-tex macros, requiring the athletes to hold the swing as their feet cut to the zone hold. Only Seo and Grossman would top it, and they both flashed it.

Natalia Grossman topping out the second women's final boulder of the 2023 IFSC World Cup in Brixen, Italy
Natalia Grossman topping out the second women’s final boulder © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

The 3rd boulder was on a slab created from stacked volumes on top of each other on a vertical wall, pushing you further out than a traditional slab. The paddle dyno to the zone hold looked like it could cause lots of trouble, but only Mackenzie would not reach it. The only athlete who seemed to struggle was Grossman, who reached the zone on her 7th attempt. The final boulder looked like it contained an incredibly hard rose move. However, 3 athletes would flash it, and only Johanna Färber would not top it. Seo would flash the boulder to take silver ahead of Gejo in bronze. Grossman would round off the finals by flashing the boulder, topping every boulder in the final and taking her second gold medal of the season.

In the overall rankings, Grossman’s win put her in first place, going into the final World Cup of the season in Innsbruck. Oriane Bertone is in second, and Brooke Raboutou is third. T. Narasaki remains in first place for the men due to his consistency, while Lee is second and M. Narasaki third. With 195 points between 1st place and second and 115 points between second and third, everything is to play for in Innsbruck.

Toby Roberts’ performance on the final boulder was something special. Go and watch it. In his post-competition interview, he said, “Words can’t explain it; I feel absolutely incredible. The fight on that last boulder, I have no words; I had to give it absolutely everything.”.

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