Janja Garnbret won her second gold medal of the week at the first Lead World Cup of the season in Innsbruck. Ai Mori would take second, while Jessica Pilz would win a bronze medal at her home World Cup.
The competition came after a long week of climbing, with the Boulder World Cup just before. Eighty-nine women lined up to compete, of which 56 had competed in the Boulder World Cup 2 days previously. The routes were difficult. Only Janja Garnbret topped the first qualification route, while no one would top the second. This trend would continue throughout the weekend.
The semi-final route for the women was 49 holds long, split into 4 sections. The route starts on purple dual-tex rock-city holds with yellow gibs up to a cross through to a trio of purple semi-circular macros at hold 17/18. The next section was more vertical, comprised of yellow Kilter low riders and crimpy jibs until hold 24/25. Athletes then went feet-first into the teal volume section with black jibs on the overhang. The final section of blue holds started at holding 38 on the headwall.
Miho Nonaka set an early high point with a score of 31+, getting into the teal volume section and scoring a “+” for making progress towards the next hold. Jain Kim, a legend of the sport with 29 Lead gold World Cup medals, scored 32+, which would be the start of a bottleneck. Three other athletes would reach 32+, including Laura Rogora and Hélène Janicot. Molly Thompson-Smith was initially awarded 33 for holding onto the volume the 33rd hold was attached to, but this was changed to 32+ on appeal. She missed out on finals to Hélène by one place. Brooke Raboutou and Natalia Grossman would make more progress through the teal section, both scoring 34+, as well as Mia Krampl, who scored 36+. Only Jessy Piltz, Janja Garnbret, Ai Mori and Chaehyun Seo would reach the final headwall section. Chaehyun and Ai would get the highest score, 46+, while Janja would time out, scoring 46 and Jessica 40+.
The final route went up the steepest part of the Innsbruck wall. It is an intimidating sight at 15 metres tall and 10 metres overhanging. The route consisted of 4 distinct sections, starting on a series of red holds before traversing into the steepest part of the wall at hold 12 to new dual-texture ghost macros from 360, which we saw in the Boulder competitions earlier this year. Through the steepest part of the wall, the next section was on blue and yellow volumes and macros from hold 20 to 44. The final headwall section finished on purple holds and traversed right to hold 48 to enable athletes to clip the chains from the same position as the men.
Hélene Janicot would come out first and fall early in the red section at hold 8, scoring 8+. She missed timed the early jump and was off. A bottleneck formed at the beginning of the blue and yellow section, with 6 athletes scoring between 24+ and 25+. Despite Chaehyun’s strong performance in the semi-finals, she made a mistake on hold 25 and fell off unexpectedly. Jessica Pilz would rank highest based on count back to the semi-finals out of this group. Her higher rank was deserved as she was the closest to latching hold 26.
Ai Mori and Janja Garnbret would battle for the win. Janja came out first and made the most progress through the blue and yellow section, scoring 39+ and going up for a yellow crimp 81% up the route. The performance was reminiscent of her Olympic lead performance, where she had to fight for every hold. Ai would only reach hold 33 and fall going to hold 34.
Janja was over the moon with her second double gold in Innsbruck after 2021. Every route in the competition was hard, with the final route being the hardest.
Janja said in her post-competition interview, “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.”