Torn pieces of skin, almost raw. After four days of intense fighting on the walls, the climbers’ fingers are suffering in Bavaria. “I have all the fingers in blood, I even tried to put on gloves during the warm-up, said Mejdi Schlack after the difficulty test (15th), the one who finished at the foot of the podium in block. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t expect to get hit so hard. »
To participate in the combined test of these European Championships (Wednesday and Thursday), the climbers had to complete two tests over four days (bouldering and difficulty) with a total, in the best of cases, of two qualifying rounds, two middle ends and two ends. . Full program.
Two medals instead of one
The three days of rest in Munich suited the organizations well, before lining up for the combined final, the first test of this new format scheduled for Paris in 2024. In Tokyo, last summer, for the entry of the discipline into the Olympic program, climbing was entitled to only one medal. Instead of favoring one of the three competition disciplines (bouldering, difficulty, speed), the authorities have opted for a new format, never seen before in the industry: a mix of all three. After the controversy (previously, no athlete practiced all three at a high level), everyone got into it.
For Paris, the climb now has two medals: a speed test, a combined block and difficulty test (and three medals are expected for Los Angeles in 2028). Logical decision and appreciated by the entire community, as well as its calculation of points much more understandable than in Japan. Instead of the multiplication game that takes place in Tokyo, the performances of each event will be qualified with 100 points in Paris and the final classification will result from the sum of the points of each event, for a total of 200.
“This European Championship will allow us to orient ourselves. At the moment, we are making some progress through trial and error. »
Therefore, climbers’ training strategies need to be reviewed and adapted once again. This is the case of Mickaël Mawem, finalist in Tokyo, who was very close to a medal. “I have been training sprint and boulder for four years, especially for Tokyo, specifies the European bouldering champion of 2019. Except that for four, even almost five years, the other athletes, French or international, immediately switched to the Paris 2024 project, training thoroughly in bouldering and difficulty. Me, I’m pretty late on that. »
Mickaël Mawem, training on French pole at Voiron. (N.Jan/The team)
“Some will position themselves thoroughly in one discipline, others will work in both, explains Cécileavezou, coach of the Blues in difficulty. You have to find the right alchemy, according to the qualities of each one. ” ” It is not obvious, agrees Laurent Lagarrigue, coach and Olympic preparation coordinator. This European Championship will allow us to orient ourselves. At the moment, we are making some progress through trial and error. »
Between versatility and experience
So what is the ideal profile? Versatile without a doubt, but it is also essential to be very good in a discipline to get on the podium. Like the American Colin Duffy (18), winner for the first time in the history of a round of bouldering and difficulty in the same World Cup, in Innsbruck in June. Versatility at a very high level is becoming more and more frequent.
“This season, we see a lot of climbers who have been strong in bouldering and who are still very strong in the difficult stages. Cécileavezou confirms. It suggests that good block-level background is transferred to the diff’. »
If at the level of training of young people many practice both, the arrival of Olympism to climbing has clearly accentuated this trend. “I think I’ll do both, even without the Olympics, because I’ve been doing them since I was little, but maybe a little less anyway.” explains the runner-up in Europe in bouldering and quadruple world champion among young people Sam Havesou.
France has a strong group used to both disciplines. Comme la pépite bleue, Oriane Bertone, medaillée de bronze en bloc, who, au dernier moment, a préféré concentrate sur une seule discipline à Munich, pour aussi gérer la fatigue d’une saison dense quand on s’aligne sur les deux en World Cup.
By choice (tiredness, return from injury, training strategy), the experienced Fanny Gibert (world number 3 in bouldering in 2018 and 2019) or Manuel Cornu (bronze medalist in bouldering last year) have also skipped the terminal in Munich. But he should be back there before 2023, for the first qualifying events.
“For us, I have the impression that the qualifiers have almost started, because the level is dense in the French team. Samavezou points out. We’ll have to earn our place with the French. » On Thursday, in the final, he and Mejdi Schalck are already aiming to make a splash.
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