Jakob Schubert and Seo Chaehyun claim lead titles in dramatic finish at 2021 IFSC World Champs 

The Austrian veteran won his fourth lead world title as semi-final leader Hamish McArthur missed a final hold on the lead route. Seo, the Korean teen, grabs her first-ever world championship medal.

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by GETTY IMAGES

It's another lead climbing world title for Austria's Jakob Schubert.

The veteran triumphed in a dramatic men's final on Tuesday (21 Sept.) at the 2021 IFSC World Championships in Moscow, as he topped the lead route to add a fourth lead world championship title to his name, after wins in 2011, 2014 and 2018.

It's Schubert's eighth world title overall.

The women's event served up equal drama, as 17-year-old Korean climber Seo Chaehyun - the last athlete to climb - eased her way up what had been a challenging route for the women's field. She was the lone climber to top it.

Recently-crowned bouldering world champ Natalia Grossman of the U.S. and Laura Rogora of Italy finished second and third, respectively.

In the men's, Luka Potocar of Slovenia also topped the lead route, claiming silver, while semi-final winner Hamish McArthur of Great Britain was just one move away from capturing gold, but - as the final climber of the event - missed the grip on the top hold, settling for bronze.

"I really had to fight hard to secure the win," 30-year-old Schubert told Olympics.com afterwards. "Those types of victories are always to most satisfying, when you have to give everything for it."

"It's the perfect ending to the season," - Jakob Schubert

Earlier in the event, Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine and Poland's Natalia Kalucka shocked in the speed climbing finals to capture respective world titles.

In the bouldering finals, KOKORO Fujii captured the men's title, while Grossman won the women's.

Schubert's experience proves golden

Coming off of a bronze-medal performance at Tokyo 2020, in which Schubert topped the lead route as the final climber to secure his his spot on the combined podium, the Austrian showed his patience on a lead route that he said after he found very challenging.

Following his top, McArthur, who won the junior world title just last month, used patience himself to move up the lead wall, positioning himself to top the route with one final dynamic move. But he did not get the power under him he needed - and as the clocked ticked down to just 10 seconds - the Briton missed the final hold to top the route, in the end settling for bronze.

Schubert's fourth lead world title adds to combined wins in 2011-13 and 2018.

After such a busy season it would be understandable if the veteran climber took a rest from climbing, but Schubert won't be doing that.

"After medalling at the Olympics, I just came here to have some fun," he gold Olympics.com after his victory in Moscow.

"After next week's competition I'm going to relax. I won't climb in the gym for a bit, but I'm going to spend a month in Mallorca climbing on rocks above the sea because that's just what I love most and that's how I relax!"

Czech Republic's Martin Stranik claimed fourth, while NARASAKI Tomoa, a three-time world champ in bouldering, placed fifth.

Alone at the top: Seo stays calm

While Grossman and Rogora both showed signs of physical strain during the women's lead final in what was a challenging wall put together by the route setters, Seo looked fresh from the start. She glided her way up the lead route and - as the final climber - was the first (and only) woman to top it.

"This is my first world championship medal, and it was gold" Seo told Olympics.com afterwards. "So I am very happy. I can't wait to speak to my parents.

"I now have a one or two week break, but then it's back to training."

All three women had topped the semi-final route to qualify for the final eight.

Austria's Jessica Pilz placed fourth, while Grossman's American teammate Brooke Raboutou was fifth.