adidas ROCKSTARS 2016 semifinal report
Yesterday saw the adidas ROCKSTARS get underway with 72 climbers competing in the qualifying round. This morning things began to hot up as the semi-finalists (21 men and 21 women) took to the stage to fight for those highly sought-after slots in the final.
The 2 wildcard entrants from yesterday’s GORE-TEX® Be a Rockstar amateur competition were out first, bang on 11 o’clock, to try their luck against the World’s best. Those 2 - Elnaz Rekabi (IRI) and, in the men’s event, Nikola Petrov (BUL) - arguably had the most enjoyable semi-final experience of any athletes because they could climb without pressure and enjoy the occasion, safe in the knowledge that just being there represented an amazing result for them. That’s not to say they weren’t focussed and determined though; both gave everything they had to the boulders and both came away with a top - Nikola on men’s boulder 1, Elnaz on women’s boulder 3.
Afterwards, Elnaz commented that before coming out under the lights of the Porsche-Arena, “I just was excited! I wasn’t nervous because I wanted just to experience climbing alongside the adidas ROCKSTARS”.
The quality of the field was evident from the second that the first “pro” climbers began taking to the stage. Mickael Mawem (FRA) was in the IFSC World Championship final in Paris last week but only just made it into today’s semi-finals (he qualified 20th), which reveals much about the fierce competition here in Stuttgart. He was out immediately after Nikola and Tjasa Kalan (SLO) followed Elnaz in the women’s event.
Just to give some idea of the calibre of the athletes here, Nikola Petrov at one point found himself on stage with Manuel Cornu (FRA), who one week ago claimed a World Championship Bronze medal, Sergeii Topishko (UKR), who was 15th in Paris last week, and Rustam Gelmanov (RUS), 2012 Boulder World Cup Champion! Rustam eventually ended up in 5th place, safely securing a place in his 4th adidas ROCKSTARS final, just ahead of Alban Levier (FRA), who was 6th this morning and will also climb tonight.
A few times during the early rounds, Nikola glanced left at the other climbers, as if to remind himself that he was actually there on the stage with Rustam and co! He explained later, “…for me it’s a pleasure to climb with people like them. All of them are really strong but I don’t feel fear or anything like that. I think I gave my best; it’s not enough to get to the next level but I’m happy”.
From then on, it was big name after big name. Jan Hojer (GER) has not had a vintage year by his high standards but he is still the reigning European Boulder Champion and was Boulder World Cup Champion in 2014. He’s never won here in Stuttgart and was keen to finish an otherwise forgettable season on a high by going home with the 2016 adidas ROCKSTARS title. He certainly went the right way about it, topping 3 boulders to cruise into the final in 4th place.
Ahead of Jan were reigning IFSC World Champion and World Cup Boulder Champion Tomoa Narasaki (JPN), 2015 World Cup Boulder Champion Jongwon Chon (KOR), and the ever popular Jernej Kruder (SLO), who won here in 2013 and always seems to climb at his best in Stuttgart. After the semi finals we managed to grab a word with Jernej as he was getting a massage from one of the athlete masseurs and he said that, “It was amazing, like always at adidas ROCKSTARS! I think I always do well here because the route setting is more powerful and dynamic, and it could also be the crowd. I know some people are pretty nervous if the crowd is so big but I just perform even better.”
“And do you think the massage helps too, Jernej?”
“At the moment it hurts so I can’t really say it’s fun but I believe it will work!”
Lower down the order, and missing out on finals, were Kokoro Fujii (JPN), 3-time adidas ROCKSTARS winner Sean McColl (CAN), Jakob Schubert (AUT) and current overall Lead World Cup leader Domen Skofic (SLO) who said that during the semis, “I found out what I should do at the last minute everytime. All the boulders I fell on the last move, so I couldn’t do any but I could do them all….it’s kind of frustrating”.
The boulders over in the women’s event were incredibly tough, and the competition so tight that we will have 8 climbers in the female final tonight after Leah Crane (GBR), Jessica Pilz (AUT) and Miho Nonaka (JPN) tied for 6th place. Just above them, but still with only 1 top, were Stasa Gejo (SER) and Mina Markovic (SLO) who claimed 5th and 4th respectively.
Only 3 climbers in the women’s event could top more than one boulder, with Akiyo Noguchi (JPN) managing 2 and Janja Garnbret (SLO) and Petra Klingler (SUI) doing 3. Last week in the IFSC World Championships in Paris, Janja won the Lead title and Petra won the Boulder title. To have the recently crowned champions going head to head this evening is a mouth watering prospect for climbing fans. Having finished the semi-finals, Petra said, “It was a hard round. It began with a really, really hard boulder and I think it’s a bit hard in the head if the first boulder is the hardest and you don’t manage it, but afterwards I managed to top the 3 other ones so I’m really happy.” To claim the World Championship title and then the adidas ROCKSTARS crown too would be a scarcely believable achievement but both Janja and Petra have the chance to do just that this evening. However, Akiyo has won here before and Miho was second in both the World Championships and Boulder World Cups for this year. The women's final is going to be incredibly tight.
We’ll be live with the final at 8.15pm local time. This is one you do not want to miss.
Men’s Final (in start order)
- Alban Levier (FRA)
- Rustam Gelmanov (RUS)
- Jan Hojer (GER)
- Tomoa Narasaki (JAP)
- Jongwon Chon (KOR)
- Jernej Kruder (SLO)
Women’s Final (in start order)
- Leah Crane (GBR)
- Jessica Pilz (AUT)
- Miho Nonaka (JAP)
- Stasa Gejo (SER)
- Mina Markovic (SLO)
- Akiyo Noguchi (JAP)
- Petra Klingler (SUI)
- Janja Garnbret (SLO)
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