Pics Elias Holzknecht, Christian Waldegger, Bert Wille
Spectacular, gravity-defying moves on vertical walls are guaranteed when the world’s best bouldering athletes fight for an entry to the superfinal at the prestigious IFSC Masters adidas ROCKSTARS in Germany on 15 and 16 September. The event draws the top stars of the climbing scene to Stuttgart’s Porsche-Arena – and combines enthralling competition bouldering with lots of rock'n'roll.
The popular invitational contest for the international climbing elite takes place for the seventh consecutive time and this year sees the highest calibre field ever. Around 3,500 spectators can share the excitement when World and European champions, World Cup winners, and national champions impressively demonstrate why bouldering, i.e. climbing without a rope over a crash pad, is considered one of the most difficult disciplines in sport climbing. Admission to the event is free of charge.
Climbing meets Music
The goal of competitive bouldering is to solve short and complex climbing problems in a limited time using as few attempts as possible. Apart from power, extreme flexibility and creativity, athletes need motivation and adrenaline to reach maximum performance in a competition, which is why adidas ROCKSTARS combines white-knuckle competition bouldering with show acts and live music. Hot DJ battles, the punk rock band Orange but Green and European Beatbox Champion Robeat create an intoxicating atmosphere.
World-class field lined up
Only invited athletes can participate in adidas ROCKSTARS. The start list reads like the who’s who of bouldering. The World Cup season ended on August 19th, hence, some athletes may have some unfinished business and the crowd can look forward to an exciting competition. The field includes the two defending champions, 18 year-old Janja Garnbret (SLO), Lead World Champion, 2016 Overall Lead World Cup Winner, runner-up of the 2017 Bouldering World Cup and a truly exceptional talent, as well as reigning Bouldering World Champion Tomoa Narasaki (JPN), who won the 2016 Overall Bouldering World Cup and is the 2017 runner-up. They compete against the 2017 Overall Bouldering World Cup Champions, Shauna Coxsey (GBR) and Jongwon Chon (KOR), the reigning Bouldering World Champion Petra Klingler (SUI), the two newly crowned European Champions Staša Gejo (SRB) and Jan Hojer (GER), as well as the top 10 men and women of the 2017 Bouldering World Cup.
After several injury lay-offs, Alex Puccio (USA), who won adidas ROCKSTARS in 2012, is back in the game, as well as triple adidas ROCKSTAR and triple World Champion Combined (L/S/B) Sean McColl (CAN), who also has some unfinished business in Stuttgart after not being on the podium in 2016 – the first time in five years.
Head-to-head duel in the superfinal
Over 80 athletes from 25 different countries are invited to adidas ROCKSTARS this year, including newcomers like Junior World Champion Borna Cujic (CRO). They first have to make it through the qualification and semi-final. The top 6 men and women advance to the great final on Saturday evening. They fight in two rounds for the entry to the superfinal. Here, the Top 2 compete in direct comparison on a so-called “super boulder” that was specifically created for the event. The athletes climb simultaneously an identical route on two sides of the same boulder. In this thrilling duel the two superfinalists need both, excellent skills and good nerves. Although the climbers cannot see each other, the cheers of the crowd adumbrate what is happening on the other side.
GORE-TEX® Be a Rockstar - Sprungbrett in die Welt der Profis
130 aspiring amateurs from 17 different countries participating in the GORE-TEX® Be a Rockstar Contest on Friday, 15 September, will try to win a wildcard into the semifinal of the pros to compete side by side with the stars of the international bouldering community.
International route setter team creates “problems”
The quality of the routes is vital for a good competition. After all, adidas ROCKSTARS wants to highlight the skills of the international bouldering stars. Flexibility, dynamics, power and strength, technique, balance, coordination, endurance and creativity, that’s what the audience wants to see. In the best of cases, only one athlete masters the most difficult route. The “problems”, as the short bouldering routes are also called, will be set by an array of internationally renowned route setters, namely Laurent Laporte (FRA), Manuel Hassler (SUI), Reinhard Fichtiger (AUT), Matthias Woitzuck (AUT), Adam Pustelnik (POL), Tomasz Oleksy (POL), Robert Leistner (GER), and Felix Buchmann (GER). All together the team boasts 100 years of experience in competition route setting.
Climbing added to 2020 Olympics
Sport climbing has become an international high-performance sport and the IOC has now put a spotlight on it by officially approving climbing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Official competitions take place in three different disciplines: lead climbing, bouldering and speed climbing. Bouldering is also known as maximal strength discipline. The difficulties of boulder “problems” range between boulder grade 7c to 8a+ and may be compared with single moves of grade 10 or 11 lead routes.
Sport climbing is booming
In recent years, climbing has truly become a popular sport, not least because of numerous climbing gyms: more and more athletes are attracted by vertical challenges, both indoor and outdoor, and the trend continues. According to the international Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) more than 140 countries have climbing walls. In Germany alone, there are more than 350 climbing gyms open to the public. There are 35 million climbers around the world; in Germany alone there are around 500,000 climbers. Twenty-five per cent of the one million members of the German Alpine Club (DAV) state that they are climbing indoor on a regular basis. The sport also attracts many women. Around 40 per cent of German climbers are female.