Tomorrow, the 19th Lead World Championship will start in Bern, Switzerland. Athletes will compete both for the World Championship and also for an invitation to the combined Boulder&Lead competition next week, where the first Olympic places are on offer.
Bern will host Switzerland’s second World Championship after Winterthur hosted the World Championship in 2001. Winterthur was the first World Championship where all 3 disciplines were present for the first time after Bouldering’s introduction to the World Cup circuit in 1999.
The World Championship will be the biggest competition of the season, with 129 Men and 101 Women confirmed for Lead, with all the biggest names attending.
This season, Janja Garnbret has looked untouchable in Lead, despite losing to Ai Mori last year in Edinburgh (on countback) and Koper. She finished high about everyone else in Innsbruck. She cruised to the only top of Villars’ “really easy” final route. Janja has already won two gold World Championship medals in 2016 and 2019. Only Angela Eiter has more World Championship golds, with four. It would be hard to bet against her, especially if the routes are challenging, which the new 30-degree overhanging headwall will help with.
Ai Mori has only competed in 3 World Cups since 2019, as she has balanced school and climbing. She did win two of those, ahead of Janja Garnbret, in Koper and Edinburgh near the end of the 2022 season, while Janja competed at every World Cup. She was second to Janja in Innsbruck this year. Jessica Pilz had a resurgence this season, with two podiums and a fourth place at the three World Cups she’s competed at. She won the 2018 World Championship in Innsbruck ahead of Janja Garnbret on time after both athletes topped the semi-final and won their Qualification group. Chaehyun Seo won gold at the last World Championship in 2021 and 4 World Cups in 2019. However, she has not won a World Cup since then, despite podiuming six times over the last two years.
Jain Kim returned this year and followed up her last win in Inzai 2019 to win her 30th Lead gold medal in Chamonix. Bern will be her 10th World Championship, from which she has won 5 medals. It would be a fairytale story for her to win her sixth World Championship medal in Bern. Brooke Raboutou has 5 podiums in Lead and has not missed a final since 2019. Natalia Grossman did not replicate her Lead form from 2021 or 2022 at the two World Cups she attended this year. Still, she won a silver medal at the last World Championship.
For Men, unlike in Boulder, the “old guys” can still keep pace with the youngsters. Jakob Schubert won his 20th Lead gold medal in Villars as the average age of the podium was above 30. He has won three World Championship lead titles, the same as Adam Ondra. Adam only competed in Lead at Villars this season, as is his way; he only competed at 40 World Cups since 2009 compared to Jakob, competing in over 80 over the same period. He is always able to deliver on the big stage.
Alex Megos surprised everyone, including himself, by winning silver and bronze medals in Innsbruck and Villars this season. Although he has only won one World Cup, he did win a silver medal at Hachioji in 2019 and a bronze in Innsbruck in 2018. Despite a strong outdoor pedigree, he has only won one World Cup in 2018 in Briançon since he started competing on the World Cup circuit in 2009, with a break between 2011 and 2017.
The youngsters showed their potential in Chamonix and Briançon, with Toby Roberts winning in Chamonix and Sorato Anraku in Briançon. Toby was the best of the youngsters in Villars, while Sorato has made every Lead final this season. Team Japan showed their dominance in Lead in Briançon, where 7 out of the 8 finalists were Japanese, and all 9 Japanese athletes were in the top 12. However, only five Japanese athletes will attend the World Championship, including Sorato Anraku, Tomoa Narasaki, Meichi Narasaki, Yoshiyuki Ogata and Ao Yurikusa, as the Japanese selection process prioritises combined athletes. Sasha Lehmann will have the home advantage in Bern, and his win in Innsbruck at the start of the season show he is in good form.
- 2 August Women Lead Qualification 11:00 - 15:30
- 3 August Men Lead Qualification 09:00 - 15:00
- 6 August Men & Women Lead Semi-final 10:00-13:30
- 6 August Men & Women Lead Final 18:30-20:30
More details. All times are UTC+2.
Where to Watch
You will be able to watch on
- Eurosport Player within Europe,
- ESPN Latin America and the Olympic Channel for Central and South America
- TVRI in Indonesia
- The IFSC YouTube Channel for other countries
You can catch up on the competition 24 hours afterwards on the Olympic Channel.