All you need to know about the IFSC Climbing World Championships 2019
Just 11 months after the last World Championships, the International Federation of Sport Climbing will crown its new world champions in Hachioji, Japan, from 11–21 August.
Although it is traditionally held every two years, the IFSC Climbing World Championships will be contested again this year as athletes build up to the sport's Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. This year's Combined events also serve as Olympic qualifiers.
All eyes will be on the stars like Janja Garnbret and Jakob Schubert, as well as home favourites Tomoa Narasaki, Akiyo Noguchi, and Miho Nonaka to see who will be the first to secure their Olympic spots for next year. Unlike in some sports, athletes in sport climbing will qualify Olympic quotas as individuals, rather than for their National Olympic Committee.
Eight sets of sport climbing medals will be up for grabs: one for men and one for women in bouldering, lead, speed, and combined.
Be sure to watch the live stream right here on Olympic Channel (click the link for restrictions in your region).
Defending world champions: Men's – Kai Harada (Japan); Women's – Janja Garnbret (Slovenia)
In bouldering, athletes attempt to climb routes of up to five boulders without rope support in a limited amount of time. The competitor with the most successfully-completed boulders is ranked the highest.
Japan's Kai Harada will attempt to defend his world title from his surprise win in Innsbruck, Austria, last September. There, his countryman and favourite (and 2016 world champ) Tomoa Narasaki failed to make the cut for the final.
Narasaki is the current world number one in the discipline. South Korea's Chon Jongwon, the silver medallist last year, is third in the rankings and will pose a threat, as will Jernej Kruder of Slovenia.
Kruder's compatriot Janja Garnbret has been nigh-on unbeatable in the discipline. Still aged just 20, she last lost a bouldering final in April 2018, and it is hard to see that changing at the Worlds.
Defending world champions: Men's – Jakob Schubert (Austria); Women's – Jessica Pilz (Austria)
Lead climbers are attached to a belay rope to climb purpose-designed walls at least 12m in height. Routes are set with a minimum length of 15m and minimum width of 3m, and athletes have six minutes to make one single attempt on each route. Each handhold is assigned a scoring value, and athletes are timed. Any competitor that reaches the final designated Protection Point is scored 'top'. Ties in the semi-final and final are settled by best performance in the previous round; if still tied, athletes are split by time.
It was an Austrian double on home soil last year with Jakob Schubert and Jessica Pilz taking gold, and both figure to be in medal contention again this year in Hachioji.
Schubert is currently the top-ranked male lead climber, although he is currently only ninth in this year's World Cup standings after placing 14th and third in his two events.
The top three athletes on the World Cup leaderboard, and potential challengers to the crown, are last year's bronze medallist Alex Megos of Germany, Sascha Lehmann of Switzerland, and Great Britain's Will Bosi. Watch out too for two-time lead world champ Adam Ondra of the Czech Republic.
On the women's side, Garnbret once again figures among the contenders, as the Slovenian is world ranked number one and is second based on performances in this season's World Cup.
South Korea's Seo Chae-hyun (the top World Cup athlete), defending champion Pilz (world number two), Akiyo Noguchi of Japan (world number six) and USA's Ashima Shiraishi (world number eight), who is of Japanese descent herself are some of the other names to keep an eye on.
Defending world champions: Men's – Reza Alipour Shenazandifard (Iran); Women's – Aleksandra Rudzinska (Poland)
Current world records: Men's 15m – Reza Alipour Shenazandifard (5.48 seconds); Women's 15m – Song Yiling (7.10 seconds)
Athletes compete in pairs to race up a fixed 15-metre wall, tethered to a belay rope. In the Qualification round, each climber has one attempt from each lane unless they false start. Athletes are sorted by fastest time for qualification to the Final round, which is a knockout elimination tournament.
Men's world record holder Reza Alipour of Iran is also the defending champion in the event, and is the current world number two. However, the 25-year-old has had an indifferent World Cup season, not finishing on the podium in five events so far this year.
The biggest threat to Alipour will likely come from World Cup leader and world number one, 34-year-old French veteran Bassa Mawem.
On the women's side, defending champion Aleksandra Rudzinska, now competing under her married name as Aleksandra Miroslaw, appears to be an unlikely outside shot based on her current world ranking of 11th.
China's Song Yiling, the world record holder, currently sits top of the World Cup standings. She is locked in a head-to-head with French world number one Anouck Joubert for both the world ranking and World Cup leads, and that will also be the rivalry to watch in Hachioji.
However, Indonesia's Asian Games champion and world number three Aries Susanti Rahayu does not appear on any entry list. Neither do any of her teammates, male or female.
Defending world champions: Men's – Jakob Schubert (Austria); Women's – Janja Garnbret (Slovenia)
Climbers entered in all three events of bouldering, lead, and speed will receive a combined ranking, from which the top 20 on both the men's and women's side will move on to take part in the combined qualifications on 18 and 19 August.
Athletes entered only in the combined discipline will also automatically be entered into each of the other three events.
From the qualifiers, the top seven will qualify for Tokyo 2020. The top eight will move on to the finals.
Scores are taken by multiplying final positions in each of the other three disciplines, with the lowest scores ranking highest.
Jakob Schubert is the men's defending champion, but it's home hope Tomoa Narasaki who currently leads the men's World Cup combined rankings with 11,880 points. By comparison, the 59th-ranked World Cup combined athlete has over 6 billion points.
That ranking system is also proof of Janja Garnbret's total domination on the women's side.
This year, the Slovenian has a combined World Cup ranking points tally of just 108 points. Japan's Akiyo Noguchi, the Asian Games champion, has 16,128 in second place and her teammate Miho Nonaka in third has 67,200.
IFSC Climbing World Championships ticket information
Tickets for the World Championships are still available online, for collection in person from machines in Japan.
All online sales include a booking fee of 216 Japanese yen (roughly U.S. $2).
The cheapest tickets available for sessions are 2,000 yen (around U.S. $19); the most expensive tickets are 4,500 yen (about U.S. $42).
Hachioji 2019 schedule
All times are Japan Standard Time (UTC +9 hours). Schedule correct at time of publication and is subject to change.
Sunday 11 August
10:00–15:05 Women's bouldering Qualification
Monday 12 August
10:00–15:40 Men's bouldering Qualification
Tuesday 13 August
09:00–11:15 Women's bouldering Semi-final
12:45–15:00 Men's bouldering Semi-final
16:45–18:15 Women's bouldering Final
20:00–21:30 Men's bouldering Final
Wednesday 14 August
10:00–19:45 Men's & Women's lead Qualification
Thursday 15 August
11:00–13:30 Men's & Women's lead Semi-finals
19:00–20:00 Women's lead Final
20:00–21:00 (starting 15 minutes after the Women's final) Men's lead Final
Friday 16 August
Saturday 17 August
09:00–12:30 Speed practice
12:30–16:00 Women's & Men's speed Qualification
17:30–18:30 Women's & Men's speed Finals
Sunday 18 August
11:00–11:25 Women's Combined speed Qualification
11:55–14:10 Women's Combined bouldering Qualification
16:10–17:50 Women's Combined lead Qualification
Monday 19 August
11:00–11:25 Men's Combined speed Qualification
11:55–14:10 Men's Combined bouldering Qualification
16:10–17:50 Men's Combined lead Qualification
Tuesday 20 August
16:30–16:55 Women's Combined speed Final
17:25–19:05 Women's Combined bouldering Final
Appox 19:35–20:15 Women's Combined lead Final
Wednesday 21 August
16:30–16:55 Men's Combined speed Final
17:25–19:05 Men's Combined bouldering Final
Appox 19:35–20:15 Men's Combined lead Final