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The IFSC’s World Cup season for separate (i.e., non-combined) disciplines wrapped up this weekend with a hot and rainy Lead and Speed event in Jakarta, Indonesia. The whole season has had plenty of weirdness since kicking off back in mid-April (to be explored in a different article), but this competition in Jakarta offered a chance at returning to the status quo: Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret was on the roster, looking to reclaim some Lead gold after earning silver in the previous two competitions. One of Garnbret’s perennial rivals, South Korea’s Chaehyun Seo, was present in Jakarta too. And Indonesia’s Kiromal Katibin and Veddriq Leonardo, consistently two of the fastest people in the Speed discipline, were aiming to punctuate the season with brisk times in front of a vociferous hometown crowd. In fact, this was the first time for the World Cup circuit to land in Jakarta, and there proved to be plenty of memorable moments to mark such a historic occasion.
Here’s what happened…
Indonesian and Chinese squads rule Speed
Although Indonesia’s Katibin garnered most of the headlines this year for repeatedly setting a new men’s Speed world record, his compatriot Leonardo arguably had the more impressive Speed season—evidenced by multiple gold medals. And Leonardo had a better start to the Speed portion of the Jakarta World Cup too, leading through the qualification round with a blistering time of 5.06 seconds.
Leonardo then kicked off the final round by beating Japan’s Jun Yasukawa to advance deeper into the elimination bracket. The most hotly anticipated race of the entire finals came when Leonardo went head-to-head with none other than Katibin; both men clocked incredibly fast times in the sprint, but it was Katibin who earned the victory by just 0.01 seconds. And while Team Indonesia shined, so too did Team China—with standouts Jinbao Long and Long Cao advancing deep into the finals’ elimination bracket, eventually culminating with Cao beating Long for the bronze medal.
The gold medal race featured Katibin squaring off against another Indonesian compatriot, Aspar Aspar. Katibin had the faster start, but slipped midway up the wall. Taking advantage of the blunder, Aspar cruised to victory—and the gold medal—with a time of 5.39 seconds.
The women’s Speed division featured some surprising slips as well, including a costly right-foot miss by Indonesia’s Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi—one of the favorites to win gold—in the inaugural race of the final round. The ruinous stumble allowed China’s Yufang Xie to coast to victory. Moments later, China’s Shengyan Wang slipped too while dynoing for the buzzer, allowing opponent Narda Mutia Amanda of Indonesia to snag the win.
But a few competitors did manage to avoid stumbles and upsets and advance into the climactic races: Poland’s Aleksandra Kalucka beat France’s Capucine Viglione and Indonesia’s Nurul Iqamah en route to a bronze-medal victory against China’s Di Niu in the Small Final. And China’s Lijuan Deng beat Natalia Kalucka in the Big Final to earn the gold medal. This was Deng’s third gold for the 2022 season, making her clearly the Speed star to watch as anticipation heats up for Olympic qualification in 2023.
Garnbret tested at the top
With Japan’s Ai Mori, the winner of the two previous Lead World Cups, absent from this Jakarta event, Janja Garnbret theoretically had a smoother road to victory in the women’s division. But Garnbret found an early adversary in South Korea’s Chaehyun Seo, who—like Garnbret—reached the top of both qualification routes.
Seo continued to keep the pressure on Garnbret in the successive semi-final round. Seo landed a cruxy lateral dyno on the headwall and then topped the route. Garnbret, on the other hand, had a costly foot-slip while trying to secure the dyno and did not reach the top in the semi-finals.
Garnbret found plenty of worthy challengers in the final round too, including several competitors from Team Japan (Ryu Nakagawa and Natsuki Tanii) who ultimately fell midway up the route. A number of other competitors—including Garnbret’s Slovenian teammates Vita Lukan and Mia Krampl, as well as Italy’s Laura Rogora and Germany’s Hannah Meul—got bottlenecked trying to grip and match an enormous sloper.
Despite all that preceding drama, the final round eventually funneled down to a crowning matchup between Garnbret and Seo. Garnbret climbed first and surged past a previous high point set by Krampl, then worked methodically through a cruxy sequence of thumb-crimps (yep!) on the headwall before clipping the chains at the top. Seo climbed last and kept fans on the edge of their seats by progressing high on the headwall too, but stalled and finally popped off in that thumby upper section.
The victory marked Garnbret’s 23rd gold medal in a Lead World Cup. Although Seo did not come away with the win, her silver medal caps off a stellar Lead season in which she earned a podium at a majority of the events in which she participated.
Team Japan shows its depth
If the main story of the women’s division was Garnbret’s personal return to gold medal eminence, the narrative of the men’s division was the strength of an entire squad. Team Japan first showcased its depth in the qualification round, with Yoshiyuki Ogata, Satone Yoshida, and Masahiro Higuchi leading the field.
Yoshida and Higuchi, in particular, continued to stand out in the semi-final round, but compatriots Hidemasa Nishida and Ao Yurikusa also worked their way closer to the top of the pack with scores of 40+ and 36+, respectively. No competitor topped the semi-finals route, but it was Nishida who reached the highest point on the headwall before falling while attempting a triple-clutch dyno.
Even with Team Japan filling half the roster spots in the climatic final round, members of other national teams had some memorable moments. For example, Indonesia’s Raviandi Ramadhan, participating in his first-ever World Cup, relished in some home-country support from the crowd as he fought to the midpoint of the finals’ route (concluding with a score of 22+). Germany’s Sebastian Halenke—the eventual bronze medalist—climbed even higher before failing to hold the tension while cutting feet in the route’s upper crux (for a score of 28). This same tricky sequence also stymied Higuchi, although Higuchi was awarded the silver medal based on countback to the previous round. Only Yurikusa was able to land the feet-free swing crux. He fell on the next move, but his high point of 29 proved to be enough for the gold medal.
The last World Cup event of the season will take place in Morioka, Japan, on October 20-22. It will combine Boulder and Lead, with each discipline being worth 100 points (and a maximum score of 200). The same combined format will be used for the 2024 Olympics.
- Ao Yurikusa (JPN)
- Masahiro Higuchi (JPN)
- Sebastian Halenke (GER)
- Hidemasa Nishida (JPN)
- Satone Yoshida (JPN)
- Dohyun Lee (KOR)
- Luka Potocar (SLO)
- Raviandi Ramadhan (INA)
- Janja Garnbret (SLO)
- Chaehyun Seo (KOR)
- Mia Krampl (SLO)
- Hannah Meul (GER)
- Laura Rogora (ITA)
- Vita Lukan (SLO)
- Ryu Nakagawa (JPN)
- Natsuki Tanii (JPN)
- Lijuan Deng (CHN)
- Natalia Kalucka (POL)
- Aleksandra Kalucka (POL)
- Aspar Aspar (INA)
- Kiromal Katibin (INA)
- Long Cao (CHN)