Shauna claims Gold, crushes injury fears

The Queen is back! In a terrific start to the IFSC World Cup season, the unstoppable Shauna Coxsey took gold and proved she’s fully recovered and stronger than ever, while Kokoro Fujii won gold in the men’s. Meanwhile, after announcing a surprise subscription deal to watch event livestreams, the IFSC caved to online furore to allow fans to watch the first event for free, but what of the rest of the season?

Shauna’s comeback from injury is our highlight of the competition, but the big story of the first IFSC Boulder World Cup of 2017 is the chaos surrounding the IFSC’s decision to put the livestreams of each event behind a paywall.

On Wednesday, 5 April, the IFSC stunned fans of competition climbing with a surprise announcement saying they had signed a three-year deal with US-based streaming company Flosports. This meant that, to watch any IFSC livestream, fans would have to pay for a subscription that would cost $20 a month or $150 for the whole year.

The internet immediately blew up and comments from angry fans streamed in on all social media platforms, upset athletes protested with a show of red cards at the event opening, and an online petition on Change.org garnered more than 5,000 signatures in the space of a few hours, and at the time of writing has over 12,000 signatures. 

There was no immediate response from the IFSC until Thursday when it announced that they had decided to allow fans to watch the first event for free. However, the IFSC said the “live streaming strategy” will be discussed at the monthly meeting of the IFSC Executive Board which takes place on Wednesday, 12 April.

“Various possibilities for the live streaming of IFSC events will be discussed throughout the week with the stakeholders to make sure the IFSC continue to promote both Athletes and Events in the best way,” they added.

While the climbing community waits to hear the outcome, a number of outspoken athletes and pundits have made their views known. A round-up of these comments, and a slightly speculative breakdown of the situation, can be found here on Liam Lonsdale’s blog.

Event report: Qualifiers

The men’s qualifiers were tough enough that many big names did not make the cut, including last year’s World Champion Tomoa Narasaki, who just came up short of the four tops and five bonuses needed to make semi-finals, and regular names such as Sean McColl, Rustam Gelmanov, and Jeremy Bonder, were even further down the list.

Nathan Phillips, Billy Ridal and Tyler Landman all fought hard to gain three tops, placing 17th, 18th and 25th, respectively in their groups, while Matt Cousins, Orrin Coley and Dave Barrans came in 29th, 33rd and 51st, respectively.

After ending the season injured last year, competitors and fans alike were scrutinising Shauna Coxsey’s performance in qualifiers to see how she’d be climbing after her shoulder surgery, including Shauna herself! But fears were eased and doubters shut up after Shauna cruised to the top of all five blocs in her group, the only competitor to do so, and passed safely into semis without a worry.

Michaela Tracy also looked strong and joined Shauna in being the only two competitors to top W4 in Group A, placing her in fourth and earning her a ticket to semis. Meanwhile, a slip on the slab cost Leah Crane a place in semis, landing her in 14th, while Tara Hayes came in 36th.

Leah Crane, GB Climbing Team member, said: “The calibre of the competitors increases a staggering amount year on year and it’s always exciting to see who makes the cut for final in the first event of the season.”

Semi-finals

Japan shone bright in the semi-finals, despite two of the team’s stalwarts – Tomoa Narasaki and Akiyo Noguchi – not being among them. Three of the Japanese men made it through, including Rei Sugimoto in his first competition since returning to climbing from injury, while Miho Nonaka topped all the blocs to qualify for finals in first.

It was a tense few moments watching Janja Garnbret of Slovenia attempt the last bloc in semi-finals, as she was the only competitor capable of knocking Michaela Tracy out of the finals.

Leah commented: “After four not so close attempts to stick a dyno, Janja finally latched on and cruised to the top, bumping Michaela to seventh.  An amazing first round shows how much work Michaela has put in this past training season.”

Meanwhile, Shauna cruised to the top of W1 and W3 on the flash attempt, and completed W4 on her fourth attempt, despite already having made the final.

Finals

A big early move on W1 stumped a number of athletes, but Shauna magicked friction from nowhere to surpass the intimidating, blank volume and claim the first top. After a flash of W2, which put her in a dominating position, Shauna continued her impressive form to top all four blocs and claim the gold medal. Katharina Saurwein topped two blocs to take silver and Miho topped one to take the bronze.

BMC ambassador Shauna Coxsey said: “I really couldn’t have asked for a better start to this season. I was determined to come back stronger and I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where I am with a team of people who always believed that it was possible.” 

The men’s blocs, however, were a little “overcooked” as with only four tops in total from all the competitors across all the blocs, it all came down to attempts. Kokoro Fujii took the gold with a flash of M3, followed by Aleksei Rubtsov and new kid on the bloc Keita Watabe.


The Queen of Comps is back! Photo: Leah Crane

WATCH: The Finals Highlights of IFSC BWC Meiringen 2017

Women’s results:

  1. Shauna Coxsey (GBR)
  2. Katharina Saurwein (AUT)
  3. Miho Nonaka (JPN)
  4. Stasa Gejo (SRB)
  5. Petra Klingler (SUI)
  6. Janja Garnbret (SLO)

Men’s results:

  1. Kokoro Fujii (JPN)
  2. Alexey Rubtsov (RUS)
  3. Keita Watabe (JPN)
  4. Rei Sugimoto (JPN)
  5. Jernej Kruder (SLO)
  6. David Firnenberg (GER)

 

The GB Climbing Team is supported by the BMC, Berghaus, and the Arch Climbing Wall, and the GB Paraclimbing Team is supported by Birchall Blackburn Law. Many UK walls also support the British Climbing Team through free or subsidised entry.

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