Vinokur Fifth in Belgium

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Could this be Vadim Vinokur’s year? Brooklyn'sfinest climber pulled off the best World Cup of his career, taking fifth in Flanders, Belgium, on April 30. In the final, Vinokur reached the same hold as Alex Chabot of France and Cédric Lachat of Switzerland, who finished third and fourth, but Vinokur was ranked fifth based on his semifinal performance. The 29-year-old New Yorker, the only North American consistently competing on the World Cup circuit, has previously finished sixth in two World Cups but did not make the finals even once last season, when he ended up ranked 19th overall. He is currently 9th, after two of 10 events. Spain’s Ramón Julián Puigblanque returned to top form in Flanders, leaving the Italian Flavio Crespi on the second step of the podium. With first- and second-place finishes in the first two World Cups, however, Crespi looks like the man to beat this season. Meanwhile, Austria’s Angela Eiter is undoubtedly the woman to beat. Eiter and France’s Sandrine Levet both flashed the final, with Eiter winning on her semifinal score. The young Austrian, who took the season title in 2004, has won both World Cups so far this year, and she’ll have the home-field advantage at the next lead-climbing comp, May 27-28 in Imst, Austria. Men 1. Ramón Julián Puigblanque (SPA) 2. Flavio Crespi (ITA) 3. Alex Chabot (FRA) 4. Cédric Lachat (SWI) 5. Vadim Vinokur (USA) Women 1. Angela Eiter (AUT) 2. Sandrine Levet (FRA) 3. Maja Vidmar (SLO) 4. Caroline Ciavaldini (FRA) 5. Muriel Sarkany (BEL)