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the Art of Anna Stöhr - Arco 2011
The Arco World Championships was a two faced affair, at least concerning the bouldering. On the bright side was solid route setting, stunning performances and the realization how high the standard is meanwhile, especially in countries that usually don't compete in the world cups (for many reasons). On the dark side we an arrogant organization that was unable to cope with the many competitors and clearly not interested in bouldering at all. Lets start with the bright side though!
We have 2 well-deserved winners!
Bouldering World Championships have their own rule, one is, "they all boulder well, and in the end a russian boy wins!" (as it has been from 2005 on). When Rustam Gelmanov and Dmitry Sharafutdinov executed their first problems in the semis it became clear to all their competitors that they intended to write this rule in stone.
The same is not quite true for the girls, but how Yana Chereshneva and Olga Bibik managed to show this year's best performances when it is the most important is a secret all other athletes and coaches would like to know! They both climbed easier into the final than ... Anna, who was on the brink of repeating "the best unsuccessful climbing you can possibly see" as in Sheffield and Barcelona. In the semis she cruised problem 1-3 only to be stopped with the delicate match on problem #4. The semis were again dominated by Jule Wurm who is clearly the strongest female climber around without a mayor title!
The cards are re-shuffled (at least for the non-russians)
Anna Stöhr, who just had had one of her darkest moments when she couldn't do problem #4 in the semis was a different person in the finals and put up an almost flawless performance. She was the undisputed winner in the finals. Second became the very well climbing Sasha Digiulian, who apparently benefited from the rather conventional route setting and, most of all, not expecting too much! That seemed to be the problem of Jule, who temporarily lost her Mojo in the finals and ended up on third place. The tragic hero of the finals though was Akiyo Noguchi who, on problem #1, forgot everything she knows about bouldering! In the world cups Akiyo always has been "the girls without nerves" - but here in Arco, on that Sunday afternoon ... well, we are all human beings and no machines after all!
That is, except Dmitry! Hindered only by the weird politics of his home country to give Kilian a run for the world cup, he was in every second and on every problem the alpha male of the comp and became world champion for the second time after 2007. Rustam also kept on climbing brilliantly but had to let Adam Ondra pass and took the bronze medal. And how about Kilian? A Akiyoesque Mojo loss I would say! The most successful competition climber of all times has to wait for his first world championship title till next year in Paris. Good luck, Kilian!
"If water is scarce, drink less and it will last longer"
- Angelo Seneci, MC of the Arco Rockmaster and apparently put into the position of a feudalistic
emperor for these world championships, when being informed that there is not enough water in the isolation zone.
I'm not psyched to write about the dark aspects of this event and not interested in all the politics, but if Arco was a glimpse into what happens if climbing becomes Olympic - sign me out! Angelo's quote pretty much sums his personality up, for him the athletes are just the ticket for selling TV rights. It was heart wrenching to see competitors from countries like Peru or Iran arriving 2 minutes late at their problem, misguided by the over-extended personnel, while Angelo chased competitors off places he thinks they don't belong. That happened for example to Anna just after winning and taking place at the always empty "VIP" seats.
All of Angelo's efforts to put up a good show and to sell TV rights with it of course brings our sport forward, who knows if the next great climber wasn't in front of a TV, getting inspired by what he/she saw?
That the IFSC gave Angelo full reign over their championships though is a sign of weakness in my book though, lets hope that future championships will be about sport first and TV events second!