Garnbret Makes It a Double In Innsbruck

Janja Garnbret wins the first 2023 Lead World Cup in Innsbruck ahead of Ai Mori and Jessica Pilz

Janja fighting for the win on the steepest section of the Innsbruck Lead wall
Janja fighting for the win on the steepest section of the Innsbruck Lead wall © Jan Virt/IFSC

Janja Garnbret won her second gold medal of the week at the first Lead World Cup of the season in Innsbruck. Ai Mori took second, while Jessica Pilz won the 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 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 yellow Kilter low riders and crimpy jibs until hold 24/25. Athletes 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.

Jain Kim resting on the Lead semi-final route
Jain Kim resting on the Lead semi-final route © Jan Virt/IFSC

Miho Nonaka set an early high point with a score of 31+, getting into the teal volume section and scoring a plus (+) 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 progressed more through the teal section, scoring 34+, and Mia Krampl scored 36+. Only Piltz, Garnbret, Mori and Chaehyun Seo would reach the final headwall section. Seo and Mori would get the highest score, 46+, while Garnbret would time out, scoring 46 and Pilz 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.

Jessica Pilz fighting to get a heel before reaching up for hold 25 on the Women’s Lead Route at the 2023 Lead World Cup in Innsbruck.
Jessica Pilz fighting to get a heel before reaching up for hold 25 © Jan Virt/IFSC

Hélene Janicot would come out first and fall early in the red section at hold 8, scoring 8+. She mistimed the early jump and fell.

A bottleneck would form at the beginning of the blue and yellow section, with 6 athletes scoring between 24+ and 25+. Despite Seo’s strong performance in the semi-finals, she made a mistake on hold 25 and fell off unexpectedly. Pilz would rank highest based on countback to the semi-finals out of this group. Her higher rank was deserved as she was the closest to latching hold 26.

Ai Mori fighting on the steep overhanging on the final route.
Ai Mori fighting on the steep overhanging on the final route © Jan Virt/IFSC

Mori and Garnbret would battle for the win. Garnbret 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. Mori would only reach hold 33 and fall going to hold 34.

Rank Athlete Country Score
1 Janja Garnbret Slovenia 39+
2 Ai Mori Japan 33+
3 Jessica Pilz Schubert Austria 25+
4 Brooke Raboutou USA 25+
5 Chaehyun Seo South Korea 25
6 Mia Krampl Slovenia 25
7 Natalia Grossman USA 24+
8 Hélène Janicot France 7+

Garnbret was happy with her second double gold in Innsbruck after 2021. She 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.”

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