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New Champs at World Cup

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Could Olga Bibik give defending champion Sandrine Levet a serious run for the 2004 bouldering World Cup title? It’s starting to look that way. The 27-year-old Russian has won her last two major bouldering competitions, including last weekend’s World Cup in L’Argentière la Bessée, France. Levet placed third at L’Argentière, after winning the first three World Cups of the season. American Lizzy Asher, the 17-year-old from Texas, had her best World Cup finish yet, placing 11th in L’Argentière. Her older sister, Alexis, was 29th. Stephane Julien of France came out on top in a men’s field notable for the absence of two top-five competitors, including season leader Kilian Fischhuber of Austria. Still, Julien had to best perennial favorites Christian Core of Italy and Daniel Dulac of France to take the gold. For years, British climbers have been even less successful at World Cup competitions than Americans, and without the excuse of extremely high travel costs. Well, no more. After four World Cup bouldering comps in 2004, three Brits are ranked in the top 10 for the season: Gareth Barry (tied for 5th), Andrew Earl (8th), and Mark Croxall (10th). The next bouldering World Cup is Aug. 19-21 in Bardnonecchia, Italy. Men 1. Stephane Julien (FR) 2. Christian Core (IT) 3. Daniel Dulac (FR) 4. Gérome Pouvreau (FR) 5. Sang-Won Son (KOR) Women 1. Olga Bibik (RUS) 2. Juliette Damion (FR) 3. Sandrine Levet (FR) 4. Olha Shalahina (UKR) 5. Natalia Perlova (UKR) 11. Lizzy Asher (USA) 29. Alexis Asher (USA)