Garnbret and Schubert take Gold in World Cup Lead at Villars
- Sunday 2nd July 2023
The Villars Gold medals went to Janja Garnbret and Jakob Schubert in the thrilling second WC Lead event of the 2023 season.
Having thundered and lightened the day before the Villars competitors woke at least to a dry dawn on Friday’s qualification day; not that it stayed that was for long! The field was one of the largest yet with 83 women and 94 men in action. Once the scores had been crunched after both qualification routes had been climbing it was Janja Garnbret and Adam Ondra that come out on top.
Garnbret was once again in dominant form and topped both qualification routes: the only athlete to do so. Second placed climber, Jessica Pilz topped R2 whilst joint third placed athletes, Natalia Grossman and Brooke Raboutou, both topped R1. Molly Thompson-Smith was once again the highest placed female GB climber; she finished in 10th place overall having finished R1 in =7th and R2 in 12th; the Villars semi-final will be her second in a row. Erin McNeice and Zoe Pettermans finished in 38th and 48th respectively.
Over in the men’s event Ondra was the only athlete to hit hold 41 on R1 so that earnt him 1st on that route. No less than eight other climbers – including GB climber Toby Roberts – all fell off at 40+ ie, immediately behind Ondra. Three climbers all topped R2; Jakob Schubert, Yoshyuki Ogata and Satone Yoshida and so all finished R2 in joint top. Toby Roberts was the next highest ranked climber on R2 so finished in 4th place on that route; like Molly Thompson-Smith the Villars’ semi will be Toby’s second in a row. Under the complex scoring system Ondra – despite finishing R2 in 9th place - finished the qualification round in first place; Jakob Schubert finished in 2nd and Toby Roberts in 3rd. Scoring systems aside, Robert’s third place finish after qualification was get another stunning result for the young Brit especially compared with the established lead stars such as Sascha Lehmann (6th), Alex Megos (12th) and Alberto Gines Lopez (54th). Hamish McArthur led the remaining Brits in 25th whilst Jim Pope and Joe Xiberias finished in =38th and Max Milne came in (60th).
With many of the big hitters safely through to the semi-finals it was always going to be a very tough round given that the setters had to spread the field out to get separation for the finals.
In the women’s event one of the earlier climbers, Austrian Mattea Pötzi, established what looked like a very good score of 37+. Pötzi had a very nervous wait as climber after climber came out; however, in the end she finished in fifth place and so progressed to her first final. Natalia Grossman fell just shy of Pötzi’s score as did Salome Romain, Molly Thompson-Smith, Jessica Pilz, Jain Kim and Mia Krampl. Whilst Natsuki Tani just surpassed Pötzi score before falling at move 40+, Chaehyn Seo and Brooke Raboutou both stormed past before losing contact on the headwall falling off move 45+. Perhaps predictably, Janja Garnbret got the only top in what was yet another typically polished performance. Molly Thompson-Smith finished in 9th place and so missed out on the finals once again by just a single place! Remarkably, she'd climbed in the semi's after a night suffering from food posioning making her 9th place finish even more impressive.
By comparison the men’s semi saw two tops from Anraku Sorato and Colin Duffy. Also qualifying for the final was Alex Megos, Toby Roberts and Jakob Schubert; all fell from move 36+. Adam Ondra, never very far away from the action, also qualified in 3rd place.
Bringing the two day Lead competition to a close, the finals were held on Saturday night; and even the rain could spoil what turned out to be a brilliant night’s action.
Climbing third in the stacked field, Alex Megos made excellent progress before falling off move 40 the move off a dual-texture sloper high on the headwall. Next out was Britain’s Toby Roberts; he almost got level with Megos but fell just short going for the dual text sloper and so was credited with 39+. Jakob Schubert famously rises to the big occasions with aplomb and so it was at Villars. Pulling onto the headwall, Schubert climbed steadily pulling off the sloper to another poor hold and then flipped the dual textured sloper into an undercut before finally falling off 42+ - a new high point. Adam Ondra put in another great performance but fell off at move 41+ midway between Schubert and Megos. That left the two ‘young guns’ who had topped the semi-final round, Colin Duffy and Anraku Sorato, However, neither could replicate their strong semi-final performances and both fell off disappointing low on the route at moves 37+ and 36+ respectively.
In what they dubbed ‘possibly one of the oldest podiums ever’ (a combined age of 91 years) Schubert took the Gold (his 20th WC Lead Gold and 23rd overall medal), Ondra the Silver and Megos the Bronze. It was a superb men’s final and an incredibly podium. Toby Roberts had come painfully close to a medal but had to settle for finishing in fourth place behind ‘The Big Three’ albeit ahead of all the other younger athletes. Having finished the WC Boulder season in fourth place overall, Toby is now in fifth place overall in the Lead rankings with two event down and four more to come – a truly remarkable performance from the young Brit!
The women’s final wrapped up the evenings action and once again it was a specular final round. Climbing first, Jessica Pilz made good progress on the route taking her time to crack the funky moves onto the headwall and then, as the clock ran-down, finally she fell off move 43+ establishing a very high, high point. As often the case, the next climbers didn’t match the opening run by Pilz and one after the other they all fell lower down. Pötzi came off the co-ordination move at move 17+, Jain Kim fell just beyond whilst Natuki Tani and Mia Krampl made it up to the headwall before falling. Both Chaehyun Seo and Brook Raboutou got within a move of Pilz’s early highpoint before falling off move 43. As often the case, when Janja Garnbret emerged to climb last, the competition was on a knife edge. Solving the tricky headwall by facing out, Garnbret moved towards the dyno to the final hold. Pausing briefly she fully committed and latched the big rounded finishing hold to claim the only top and yet another Gold; her 7th from her seven competitions at Villars and her 25th WC Lead Gold and 40th WC medal overall! Pilz took the Silver and Brooke Raboutou the Bronze.
Watch the highlights from the finals below…