Long and Kalucka Take Gold as Everyone Gets Faster

Personal Records were set in the fastest qualification round for Men and Women at the Villars Speed World Cup

Jianguo Long celebrating his second Speed World Cup win
Jianguo Long celebrating his second Speed World Cup win. © Lena Drapella/IFSC

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Jianguo Long and Natalia Kalucka won gold at the IFSC Villars Speed World Cup 2023. Liang Zhang made it a Chinese one-two, and Ryo Omasa beat Samuel Watson to win Japan’s first-ever men’s Speed medal. Emma Hunt won silver, while Lijuan Deng beat Beatrice Colli for Bronze.

What Happened

Both qualification rounds saw some of the fastest times ever, with the fastest time needed for both men and women to qualify for the final.

Men needed a time under 5.3 seconds to reach the final, which shows how fast the field has become since the World Record two years ago was 5.48 seconds. We saw multiple new PRs, with Rishat Khaibullin running a 5.08, Long Cao a 5.15, and former World Record holder Reza Alipour Shenazandifard setting a new personal record of 5.23.

The men’s final saw an early upset, with Leonardo Veddriq slipping in the quarter-final round to Zhang. Watson would secure a semi-final spot by 0.01, beating Peng Wu in 5.08 to 5.09.

In the semi-finals, Watson and Omasa false-started, leading to an all-Chinese big final and a race between Watson and Omasa for bronze. Long beat Zhang after the second slipped and fell to win his second World Cup gold. Long’s first gold was in Villars last year. After a slip from Watson to win Japan’s first-ever men’s Speed medal, Omasa would win the bronze.

Villars was also the fastest qualification round ever for the women, with a cut-off of 7.36 to make the finals. We had eight runs under seven 7 seconds from five athletes. Hunt showed that she meant business, setting a new USA and Pan Am record of 6.68 in qualification, closing in on the 6.5-second mark. Natalia Kalucka would also set a PR of 6.55.

In the final, the biggest shock of the early races happened when Aleksandra Kalucka slipped, leading Beatrice Colli to advance to the quarter-finals. Colli would reach the semi-final race. Deng set a personal record of 6.53 to reach the semi-final. Hunt also reached the semi-final after two winning runs in under 7 seconds.

Natalia Kalucka PRs at 6.45 seconds against Lijuan Deng © Lena Drapella/IFSC

Natalia Kalucka set a personal record of 6.45 to beat Deng in the semi-final, while Hunt beat Colli with another run under 7 seconds. Kalucka would race to gold in 6.55, while Hunt would slip. Deng beat Colli to win the bronze medal.


  • Four false starts in the Men’s finals is the joint highest number of false starts in a Men’s final, alongside Villars 2022 and Moscow 2018. Only the women’s final in Moscow 2018 had more false starts, with five.
  • Leonardo Veddriq went under 5 seconds again in qualification at 4.97 seconds. This was his 6th run under 5 seconds.
  • Only 3 women have gone below 6.5 seconds: Miroslaw, Deng and N. Kalucka.



  1. Jianguo Long (CHN)
  2. Liang Zhang (CHN)
  3. Ryo Omasa (JPN)
  4. Samuel Watson (USA)


  1. Natalia Kalucka (POL)
  2. Emma Hunt (USA)
  3. Lijuan Deng (CHN)
  4. Beatrice Colli (ITA)

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