Pieces of ragged skin, almost raw. After four days of intense fighting on the walls, the climbers’ fingers are suffering in Bavaria. “I have all my fingers in blood, I even tried to put on gloves during the warm-up, said Mejdi Schlack after the difficulty test (15th), he who finished at the foot of the podium in block. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t expect to be so slammed. »
To participate in the combined event at these European Championships (Wednesday and Thursday), the climbers had to do two events over four days (bouldering and difficulty) with in total, for the best, two qualifying rounds, two half- finals and two finals. Full-bodied program.
Two medals instead of one
The three days of rest in Munich did the organizations good, before lining up for the combined final, the first test of this new format expected in Paris in 2024. In Tokyo, last summer, for the entry of the discipline on the Olympic programme, climbing was entitled to a single medal. Instead of favoring one of the three competition disciplines (bouldering, difficulty, speed), the authorities have chosen a new format, never seen in the industry: a mix of the three. After the controversy (previously, no athlete practiced all three at a high level), everyone got into it.
For Paris, climbing now has two medals: a speed test, another of a combined block and difficulty (and three medals are hoped for Los Angeles in 2028). Logical decision and appreciated by the whole community, like its calculation of points much more understandable than in Japan. Instead of the multiplication game in place in Tokyo, the performances of each event will be scored out of 100 points in Paris and the final ranking will result from the addition of the points in each event, for a total out of 200.
“This European Championship will allow us to take our bearings. For the moment, we are moving forward a bit by trial and error. »
The training strategies of the climbers are therefore once again to be reviewed and adapted. This is the case of Mickaël Mawem, finalist in Tokyo, who came very close to a medal. “I’ve been training in sprint and bouldering for four years, especially for Tokyo, specifies the 2019 European bouldering champion. 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 quite behind on that. »
Mickaël Mawem, in training at the France pole in Voiron. (N. Jan/The Team)
“Some will position themselves on one discipline thoroughly, others will work on both, explains Cécileavezou, coach of the Blues in difficulty. You have to find the right alchemy, according to the qualities of each. ” ” This is not obvious, concedes Laurent Lagarrigue, coach and coordinator of Olympic preparation. This European Championship will allow us to take our bearings. For the moment, we are moving forward a bit by trial and error. »
Between versatility and expertise
So what is the ideal profile? Versatile certainly, 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 very first time in history of a bouldering and difficulty round on 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 on the difficulty stages, confirms Cécileavezou. It suggests that a good background at the block level is transferred to the diff’. »
If at the level of training young people, many practice both, the arrival of Olympism in 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 just a little less anyway”, explains the vice-champion of Europe in bouldering and quadruple world champion among young people Sam Havesou.
France has a strong pool accustomed to both disciplines. Like the blue nugget, Oriane Bertone, bronze medalist in bouldering, who, at the last moment, preferred to concentrate on a single discipline in Munich, to also manage the fatigue of a dense season when we line up on both in World Cup.
By choice (fatigue, 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 on the handset in Munich. But should return there before 2023, for the first qualifying events.
“For us, I have the impression that the qualifiers have almost already started, because the level is dense in the French team, points out Samavezou. We will have to earn our place with the French. » Thursday, in the final, he and Mejdi Schalck already intend to make an impression.