Toby Roberts and Jain Kim take Gold in Chamonix
- Monday 10th July 2023
Toby Roberts and Jain Kim both claimed historic wins at the Chamonix Lead World Cup over the weekend.
Toby Roberts continued his meteoric rise through the sport climbing ranks with his first ever Gold medal in a Lead competition. Climber have been reporting on Toby’s competition results all season and frankly, it’s been little short of amazing. The Boulder events went superbly for Toby winning his first Bronze and Gold medals in the Boulder rounds at Salt Lake City and Brixen respectively; these results alone would have made it an amazing year. Adding the Bronze at the SLC Boulder event to the Bronze he won in the Lead event in Edinburgh last year made him the first ever Brit to win IFSC WC medals in both Lead and Boulder.
However, adding the Lead Gold this weekend to his Boulder Gold from Brixen means that Toby is now the first ever Brit to win Golds in both disciples. Taking to social media straight after Toby’s historic win, Toby’s early-career coach, Ian Dunn, pointed out that very few male climbers have won Gold medals in both Boulder and Lead in the same year; Toby now adds his name to Adam Ondra, Sean Bailey, Jakob Schubert and Colin Duffy on that very select list of climbers to have that honour.
Jain Kim’s Gold was also very impressive. Having returned to competition climbing after the birth of her daughter, Kim Jain’s Gold was the 30th of her amazing career. Remarkably, she now holds the most Gold medals in a single discipline of any climber across all the climbing disciplines.
For many competitors Chamonix is the centre-piece competition in the Lead season. However, with the World Championships rapidly approaching a number of top names including Adam Ondra, Jakob Schubert, Tomoa Narasaki, Janja Garnbret, Natalia Grossman and Brooke Raboutou were concentrating on their preparations for that forthcoming multi-day event. However, other top established competitors like Colin Duffy, Sean Bailey and Alex Megos were all on the starting line-up. Having made the finals again, his third in a row, Megos commented on social media just how stacked the field was. Having taken the Bronze in the epic event last weekend in Villars this weekend he finished just off the podium in 4th.
The Qualification round in both the men’s and women’s saw multiple tops on both routes. Toby Roberts was one of four men to finish with double tops getting his comp got off to a flying start. Joining him in joint top was Sorato Anraku, Jesse Grupper and Taisei Homma. Similarly, four women finished in joint first having all topped both routes; Manon Hily, Nonaka Kume, Jesica Pilz and Chaehyun Seo.
The setters dished up harder routes for the semi-finals and whilst there were no tops the competitors were generally well spread out giving good separation. Toby and Sorato finished joint top in the men’s both falling off the last moves after a very tricky traverse sequence on the headwall. Olympian Colin Duffy, was in close third position. Chaehyun Seo, Jessica Pilz and Nonaka Kume took the top three spots in the women’s some way ahead of the rest of the field lead by Jain Kim. Molly Thompson-Smith continued her impressive run of results with a very solid 12th place finish.
The women’s final was held first as dusk was falling over the Chamonix square. Climbing third Helene Janicot put in a solid performance in front of a home crowd to establish an early high point; ultimately enough for a third place finish and Bronze. Next out were the two veteran climbers Miho Nonaka and Jain Kim. Miho Nonako climbed well but fell just below Janicot top position leaving the way for Jain Kim. Climbing in her trademark smooth and controlled manner Jain Kim slowly and methodically progressed up the wall until she’d surpassed Janicot’s position after which she continued to establish a commanding lead. Having missed out a clip when Jain Kim eventually fell she took a massive swinging fall! That left just three climbers still to go. Nonoha Kume and Jessica Pilz climbed next and whereas Nonoha Kume fell in the same place as Janicot, Pilz fell one move lower. When Chaehyun Seo emerged to climb last it was all still to play for. However, the typically super smooth Chaehyun Seo got in a bit of fluster low down and clipped the quickdraws in the wrong order; sadly that’s not allowed and much to her and the crowd’s disappointment she was called off the wall leaving Jain Kim the win and her 30th Gold.
The men’s final started with a bang when, climbing second, Sam Avezou established a very high highpoint after a super smooth performance. Bronze medallist at Villars Alex Megos, couldn’t match Sam Avezou’s high point nor did the next few climbers. With just Sorato Anraku and Toby Roberts to climb it was very definitely all very much wide-open. Sorato Anraku climbed well but was looked increasingly pumped as he approached the high point ultimately falling just a move of so higher than Alex Megos but below Sam Avezou high point.
That just left Toby Roberts to climb. Two minutes into his climb Toby was at move 25 where a kneebar rest was possible; skipping past that however, Toby just pressed on. With just over two minutes remaining on the clock Toby steadied himself for a tricky jump at move 35. Once through that jump Toby progressed fairly quickly – save a few tricky moments fighting briefly with an awkward clip – onto the headwall; impressively he was even able to take a sneaky shake-out where all the other competitors had been unable to stop. With thirty seconds to go Toby equalled Sam Avezou highpoint and then – as IFSC commentator Matt Goome said – he obviously felt sufficiently confident in his remaining finger strength that he encouraged the crowd by waving at them to cheer him on! It might have been an embarrassing moment but clearly he was supremely confident in completing the jump for the final hold – a move which he dispatched with consummate ease to secure the only top and his first Lead Gold. It had been a masterclass of climbing from the young rising star – an extremely impressive performance to end a remarkable weekend where he led at every stage.
During the post climb interview Toby summed up his climb saying, “It’s absolutely incredible I’m a bit lost for words right now. I’m still incredibly pumped and my heart is going. There are no words. The crowd were incredible and it felt so surreal up there.
“For me Lead has always been extra special. I really enjoy the aspect of fighting and giving your absolute maximum and hearing the crowd get behind you when you give everything.”
Watch the Finals below…