adidas ROCKSTARS 2017
Pics Christian Waldegger, Bert Willer, Eddie Fowke
September 2017 saw the world’s elite boulderers gather in Stuttgart’s modern Porsche-Arena for the 7th edition of adidas ROCKSTARS, a truly unique climbing competition that pairs 80 invited athletes from 25 different countries with intense musical performances and a passionate crowd of nearly 3800 fans.
Even by the high standards of adidas ROCKSTARS, the athlete line-up this year was outstanding and the best ever in the history of the event. The reigning World and European Champions, the Overall World Cup Champions 2015, 2016, and 2017 and most of the top 10 ranked athletes of the current season battled it out for the coveted slot in the superfinal.
Spectators who flooded the Porsche-Arena were welcomed with a vast array of hands-on activities, including a ROCKSTARS Challenge, a zlagboard contest, and the adidas TERREX virtual reality 3D climbing experience, featuring a challenging multi-climb pitch on Corsica.
Starting with qualifiers on the Friday, the action came thick and fast. Highlights included stellar performances from Makoto Yamauchi (JPN) and Ekateria Kipriianova (RUS) winners of the national qualifying events in Tokyo and Moscow who received an invition to the international event in Stuttgart. Both climbers qualified for semi-finals, Kipriianova eventually placing 8th and Yamauchi even making the final, finishing 5th.
Semi-finals provided plenty of excitement, especially considering the high quality route setting. World Champion, Petra Klingler (SUI) gave a passionate and emotional performance, climbing through injury; in her words, ‘…[because] the boulders just looked so cool, I wanted to climb them’. The route setters, led by Lauren Laporte, created aesthetic and exhilarating moves for the athletes throughout the competition.
Only the highest ranked six men and women advance to the finals, getting the opportunity to emerge from the backstage area, into the main arena and compete in front of what is widely regarded as the best crowd at any climbing event on the competition circuit. The athletes then compete in a knock-out format, with only the top three advancing to the third boulder and only the first and second place realising their ultimate goal, to make the super finals.
The women’s super final was a battle of endurance and tactics between Alex Puccio (USA) and Janja Garnbret (SLO). Both required several goes to find the right method to unlock the sequence required to get to the top of the wall. It was Puccio that managed to find enough strength and power through the tough lower moves to then go on and complete the super boulder, topping out and hitting the buzzer ahead of Garnbret.
In the men’s super final it was all about speed as Jong Won Chon (KOR) and Tomoa Narasaki (JPN) lined up for the last boulder. Narasaki stunned the crowd with an explosive display of speed and proved just how fast he is, sprinting through the moves in less than 16 seconds and topping the super boulder ahead of current world ranked number 1, Chon.
Alex Puccio (USA), adidas ROCKSTAR 2017
“The final was a pleasant surprise! After previewing the boulders together my first thought was that the boulders look super cool. I just wanted to climb them all, not even thinking about the podium or even the result.
I didn’t expect to flash the first boulder. When I stuck the coordination move in the beginning, I just kept moving and before I knew it I was at the jump. I couldn’t believe it when I actually held the move and then I was on the top.
The second boulder was also unexpected for me. Everyone seemed to think it was an ‘American style’ problem but I wasn’t convinced. I felt insecure during the moves, especially with the high heel-hook to reach the bonus. Again I found myself on the top, flashing the boulder! I was so excited to move on to the third boulder.
The super-boulder was a lot harder than what we anticipated it was going to be, Janja and I were falling a lot. We both took our time, I decided to brush the holds, stopped to breathe, I needed a rest… as soon as I stuck the hold up in the middle of the sequence, I knew I just had to keep it together for the upper moves.
It feels amazing to win adidas ROCKSTARS. But it is important to let it not get to your head, anyone could win this competition, all the athletes here are so amazing and I think in a competition it’s not always the strongest or the best climber in the world who wins. It’s who is the best that day and who has the best mental game. You get a little lucky with the boulders and from experience I know that’s how all competitors are. Everyone has the chance to win and everyone is really strong - today I guess was just my day.
After several injuries I guess you can say that I changed my approach to climbing, because now I don’t really train anymore, I just climb outside. The competitions right now are second to my outdoor climbing. I go to the competitions with a free mind and to see how I do, mentally it is a nice place to be.
It’s hard not to really enjoy climbing here at adidas ROCKSTARS, because all the boulders are so much fun - even more than in the world cups overall. The organisers put so much energy and time into this competition to make it amazing.”
Tomoa Narasaki (JPN), adidas ROCKSTARS 2017
“adidas ROCKSTARS tends to have my style of problems, in the final rather than in the semis, so it was actually harder for me in the semifinal. I felt very comfortable in the final. The first problem was a coordination move, which I am very good at and the second and third problem didn’t really feel too difficult for me either. In the superfinal, I used visualisation techniques and could move my body exactly as I imagined.
In order to claim victory at adidas ROCKSTARS, it’s not only about climbing the boulder, it’s also about speed, this gave me a lot of confidence. I don’t train speed specifically, I just try to focus on the flow of my movement with the upper body, both when I train and climb in general – that’s it.
Janja Garnbret (SLO), 2nd Place adidas ROCKSTARS 2017
“We thought the first boulder was going to be super difficult, but it turned out that it was easier than we expected, although it was harder at the top. The second boulder was more powerful so I needed a couple of tries, while the third one was a coordination boulder. I was really happy to reach the superfinal. I have some injuries in my wrists so I could really feel it on that coordination boulder, but still it was perfect.
Each year it is super cool here at adidas ROCKSTARS. I love to be back every year. The athlete lounge is way better than every isolation zone at all of the other competitions across the world and also the route setting is perfect. It’s just an amazing, phenomenal event!”
Jongwon Chon (KOR), 2nd place adidas ROCKSTARS 2017
“I really enjoyed the final, in 2014 I also reached the superfinal together with Sean McColl and this year together with Tomoa Narasaki.
The style of climbing that we see in the superfinal fits Tomoa’s style perfectly. When he is bouldering he moves like a ninja - very fast - so this format is perfect for him. He is also very strong. I always try to go fast, but my body does not always follow my head. Maybe this is something I need to prepare for more, this kind of fast climbing, in case I get the opportunity to be back in the superfinal next year.”
Nonaka Miho (JPN), 3rd place adidas ROCKSTARS 2017
“The adidas ROCKSTARS final was great fun and it’s a shame that I couldn’t make it to the superfinal, I really wanted to reach it this year so obviously I’m a little bit disappointed. I love everything about this event; the atmosphere, all the problems, the crowd ... just everything!”
Kokoro Fuji (JPN), 3rd place adidas ROCKSTARS 2017
“I was delighted to be in the final. On the last boulder I didn’t manage one of the intense pressing moves on the volumes, this is something I will train hard to improve for next year. I enjoy adidas ROCKSTARS because it’s completely different to the world cups, a lot more fun.”
1. Tomoa Narasaki (JPN)
2. Jongwon Chon (KOR)
3. Kokoro Fujii (JPN)
4. Dmitrii Sharafutdinov (RUS)
5. Makoto Yamauchi (JPN)
6. Aleksei Rubtsov (RUS)
1. Alex Puccio (USA)
2. Janja Garnbret (SLO)
3. Miho Nonaka (JPN)
4. Akiyo Noguchi (JPN)
5. Shauna Coxsey (GBR)
6. Aya Onoe (JPN)
Complete result lists are available at www.adidas-rockstars.com/en/event-info/results