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2023 IFSC Climbing World Championships in Bern, Switzerland

ISCF World Championships 2023 Bern Switzerland

Comp Legends Battle Rising Stars for a Chance at Olympic Glory.

During the annual IFSC Rock Climbing World Championships, the climbing world gathers for a two-week celebration of competitive climbing at the highest levels in Lead Climbing, Bouldering, Speed Climbing, and Paraclimbing.

This year the event took place in Bern, Switzerland, from August 1 -12. The World Cup climbers had an extra incentive this year, as the medalists in the combined Boulder & Lead event, along with the top two finishers in the Speed Climbing category, would qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

With the addition of the new Olympic format, the 2023 climbing world championships crowned champions in four separate categories for each sex: Speed, Lead, Boulder, and Boulder & Lead.

Both men and women climbers competed in individual Lead Climbing and Boulder events during the first week, with some big surprises during the qualifying rounds! This set up the top 40 competitors to fight for the precious Olympic spots on the final two days of the comp during the Boulder & Lead finals.

Let’s jump into the action and see what happened, and who’s going to Paris in 2024!

Lead Climbing World Championships

Men’s Lead

The men’s lead event pitted defending world champion lead climber Jakob Schubert against an incredibly stacked roster of challengers, including former champion Adam Ondra, German star Alexander Megos, and the newest revelation on the World Cup circuit, 16-year-old Sorato Anraku.

Schubert and Anraku tied with Sam Avezou for the lead in the first qualifying round, but the classification was completely shuffled in the semi-finals as Toby Roberts beat out Adam Ondra in the top two spots. Schubert was right behind in 3rd as the men entered the final round.

Jacob Schubert world's best lead climber IFSC Bern Switzerland 2023
Jakob Schubert © IFSC

On the finals lead route, Jakob Schubert put in a strong effort to reach the 48+ mark, and only Sorato was able to challenge him with an admirable 48 to win the silver.

Schubert won a record 4th world title in men’s lead, and extended his record as the oldest world title holder at 32 years of age.

Men’s Lead World Championships Final Results

  1. Jakob Schubert (AUT)
  2. Sorato Anraku (JPN)
  3. Alexander Megos (GER)
  4. Dohyun Lee (KOR)
  5. Ao Yurikusa (JPN)
  6. Paul Jenft (FRA)
  7. Sean Bailey (USA)
  8. Adam Ondra (CZE)
  9. Toby Roberts (GBR)
  10. Yuchan Song (KOR)

Women’s Lead

Like several of the climbers at this event, Janja Garnbret of Slovenia took the past couple World Cup rounds off to rest and train for the World Championships. Did that tactic pay off? In the first round of qualifying, Garnbret was the only woman to top both lead routes.

At the end of the first round, Garnbret was tied with Ai Mori of Japan for the lead, with Brooke Raboutou (USA), Laura Rogora (AUT), and Chaehyun Seo (KOR) close behind and tied for 3rd.

Ai Mori world's best lead climber in Bern Switzerland 2023
Ai Mori © IFSC

In the semi-final, a tough route kept all the climbers from reaching the top, but Mori eked out a few more precious moves to stay ahead of Garnbret going into the final round.

On the final lead route, Janja was the first woman to top the route, barely clipping the anchors before time ran out. The gold medal was on the line as Mori tied in as the last competitor, and only one capable of defeating the Slovenian world champion.

With the crowd cheering her on, Mori smoothly moved through the route to the top, winning gold based on her superior result in the previous round.

Women’s Lead World Championships Final Results

  1. Ai Mori (JPN)
  2. Janja Garnbret (SLO)
  3. Chaehyun Seo (KOR)
  4. Mia Krampl (SLO)
  5. Brooke Raboutou (USA)
  6. Jessica Pilz (AUT)
  7. Laura Rogora (ITA)
  8. Miho Nonaka (JPN)
  9. Molly Thompson-Smith (GBR)

Bouldering World Championships

Men’s Boulder

The men’s bouldering competition showcased the divide between youth and veterans, with a surprise winner pulling out the victory in a dramatic final!

While 16-year-old Japanese phenom Sorato Anraku dominated the first two rounds of qualifying, topping all nine boulders, he faltered in the final and was unable to send either of the final two problems. He ended up in fourth, just out of the medals.

Instead, long-time competitor Mickaël Mawem of France squeaked out a thrilling victory on his last attempt at the final problem, the first French male bouldering world champion in history. Never placing higher than 4th during his ten-year career in any IFSC World Cup or World Championship event, Mawem was ecstatic and shocked by his success, “It‘s a crazy moment. I’ve waited ten years for this. It was my goal to be the best in the world one time in my life. I’ve had a lot of failures, I’ve come back year after year. We have all these strong young guys now. I can’t believe it.”

Mickael Mawem bouldering champion 2023 world cup bern
The Triumph of Mickaël Mawem © IFSC

Second place went to Mawem’s 20-year-old teammate Mejdi Schalck, and the final spot on the podium was captured by Korea’s Dohyun Lee.

No American men made the final round, with Sean Bailey at 33rd, Dillon Countryman 41st, and Colin Duffy 45th.

Men’s Bouldering World Championships Final Results

  1. Mickaël Mawem (FRA)
  2. Mijdi Schalck (FRA)
  3. Dohyun Lee (KOR)
  4. Sorato Anraku (JPN)
  5. Nicolai Uznik (AUT)
  6. Kokoro Fujii (JPN)

Women’s Boulder

Janja Garnbret quelled much of the drama of predicting a winner in the women’s bouldering category, as she topped every single boulder in every round. She flashed every problem in the semi finals, and went on to do the same on all four final boulder problems. Only Oriane Bertone came close to Garnbret’s performance, topping three of the final four boulders with one flash.

Janja Garnbret bouldering finals world cup climbing bern 2023
Janja Garnbret © IFSC

Grabbing the bronze medal was Brooke Raboutou, who topped only two boulders but sent both on her first attempt. Former World Cup boulder champion Natalia Grossman finished a somewhat disappointing 5th in her specialty discipline.

Women’s Bouldering World Championships Final Results

  1. Janja Garnbret (SLO)
  2. Oriane Bertone (FRA)
  3. Brooke Raboutou (USA)
  4. Zélia Avezou (FRA)
  5. Natalia Grossman (USA)
  6. Ai Mori (JPN)

Boulder & Lead World Championship Results

Men’s Boulder & Lead

The finals pitted a number of young guns like Anraku, Roberts, and Duffy against veterans Ondra, Schubert, and Tomoa Narasaki.

The final round included four boulder problems and a lead climbing route. Bouldering was up first, and Jakob Schubert looked unstoppable as he cruised through all four boulders with confidence, flashing three of them.

However, following right behind him and also topping all the final boulders came Tomoa Narasaki, who calmly flashed the final problem to come out on top with one fewer attempt than Schubert.

Colin Duffy combined bouldering lead bern 2023
Colin Duffy © IFSC

Although those two were the only ones to top all the final boulders, most of the competitors were able to complete three out of the four, with Sorato Anraku, Colin Duffy, and Adam Ondra separated by a whisker to set up a dramatic finish on the final lead route.

In the lead portion of the combined event, fatigue was evident in most of the climbers after fighting through the bouldering round just an hour previous. Several fell on a crux campus move in a giant dish over half way up, including Adam Ondra and the leader Schubert.

Narasaki looked poised for an opening to take the gold, but he fell fairly low on the wall to leave an opportunity for Duffy. The young American took advantage, reaching the highest point so far to pull into second behind Schubert.

With only two climbers left to go, Duffy had to wait at the bottom as Toby Roberts and Sorato Anraku barely came up short of his mark. And with that, he nabbed his second Olympic berth, as did fellow medalists Schubert and Narasaki.

Men’s Boulder & Lead Final Results

  1. Jakob Schubert (AUT)
  2. Colin Duffy (USA)
  3. Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)
  4. Sorato Anraku (JPN)
  5. Toby Roberts (GBR)
  6. Adam Ondra (CZE)
  7. Dohyun Lee (KOR)
  8. Paul Jenft (FRA)

Women’s Boulder & Lead

In the women’s Boulder & Lead first qualifying round, defending Olympic champion Garnbret continued her domination with a 300-point lead over second place Ai Mori. She went on to place first in the semis by topping all four boulders and reaching the second highest place on the wall after Mori.

Brooke Raboutou had a strong lead climb, but was only able to top one boulder in the semi-finals. However, it would all come down to the final round. Could Janja keep up her invincible streak?

Jessica Pilz Bern CH 2023 IFSC Climbing World Cup
Jessica Pilz © IFSC

Raboutou and Jessica Pilz kept it close in the bouldering phase of the finals, topping two boulders to Garnbret’s three tops. It seemed like the best chance to topple Janja might be from Mori, but she climbed poorly in the bouldering round and only sent one problem.

Unfortunately for Raboutou, Mori crushed the final lead route, scoring enough points to just squeak out the final podium spot and Olympic honors. Garnbret reached a high point just below Mori to easily take the gold medal, with Pilz right behind for silver.

Women’s Boulder & Lead Final Results

  1. Janja Garnbret (SLO)
  2. Jessica Pilz (AUT)
  3. Ai Mori (JPN)
  4. Brooke Raboutou (USA)
  5. Jain Kim (KOR)
  6. Oriane Bertone (FRA)
  7. Miho Nonaka (JPN)
  8. Annie Sanders (USA)

Speed Climbing World Championships

The speed climbing competitors faced additional pressure during the 2023 Speed World Championships, since only the top two male and female finishers were guaranteed an Olympic berth.

Matteo Zurloni 2023 IFSC World Championships Bern Switzerland
Matteo Zurloni (right) vs. Long Jinbao (left) © IFSC

Men’s Speed Climbing Results

Matteo Zurloni of Italy bested China’s Long Jinbao in the final to secure the world title, as both climbers won a spot in the 2024 Olympics speed climbing event. Third place went to Indonesia’s Rahmad Adi Mulyono, who had an impressive 4.97 run in the quarterfinal heat.

Zurloni also set a European record in the semifinal round with a 5.02, before cruising to an easy win as Long was disqualified for a false start in the final.

Women’s Speed Climbing Results

Indonesia’s Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi won her first IFSC speed climbing gold with an amazingly consistent championship performance that saw her put up all sub-7 second runs in winning her first victory in international competition.

In a minor upset, USA’s Emma Hunt beat current speed climbing world record holder Aleksandra Miroslaw in the finals to secure her second place finish and a coveted Olympic spot. Miroslaw had an unlucky slip in the final heat that put her just behind and off the podium.

“I was trying not to expect anything, to just stay in the present moment and just go with everything,” Hunt told the IFSC media after the event. She set a new Pan American record at 6.67 seconds in the final race, even though she lost the championship battle.

Poland’s Miroslaw rounded out the podium. Her failure to grab an Olympic place, along with her speed climbing teammates Natalia and Aleksandra Kalucka, was likely the biggest surprise of the speed event.

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