Janja Garnbret wins in Kranj to clinch lead World Cup series title

Home joy for Slovenia's Olympic champion who beat SEO Chaehyun to pip Natalia Grossman at the top of the standings, as HIGUCHI Masahiro took the men's event.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Olympic champion Janja Garnbret delighted the home crowd with a stunning victory in the lead final at the IFSC Climbing World Cup in Kranj on Saturday (4 September).

The 22-year-old said she had not been training hard in the build-up to the event, but her win saw her claim a fourth lead World Cup title, and her first since 2018, just ahead of previous table-topper Natalia Grossman.

Garnbret needed to win to take the series title and she was the last athlete to go.

SEO Chaehyun was in front after the Korean put her Tokyo disappointment behind her to reach move 46.

But the Slovenian favourite showed why she is the undisputed superstar of sport climbing, producing some jaw-dropping moves to move to within sight of Seo's mark.

And with the crowd getting behind her, she made it past 46 and waved to the crowd before reaching 49+ to secure her 31st World Cup triumph.

American climber Grossman took third place on the day with 41+, leaving her in second place in the series.

Garnbret said afterwards, "It means a lot to me because my last win here was in 2017. Since then, I wasn't in the final two years ago so I've always had a love-hate relationship with Kranj but this time I really enjoyed it.

"Of course, I was feeling pressure because of the home crowd - I wanted to win, I wanted to show my best. But I could relax and just climb the route because it was so nice even though I did the wrong sequence a little bit, I enjoyed it so much."

On her Tokyo success, she admitted, "I'm still not actually used to the title Olympic champion. I still can't believe what I did but I'm processing it now."

This was the perfect preparation for Garnbret who defends her bouldering, lead and combined world titles at the World Championships in Moscow from 16-21 September.

With Garnbret cheering her team-mates on, Slovenia were just denied a double on the day as HIGUCHI Masahiro took victory.

The Japanese was last to go with three men - home duo Luka Potocar and Domen Skofic, Garnbret's long-term partner, and Germany's Sebastian Halenke - coming to grief at 31+.

Their respective qualifying performances meant Potocar led from Halenke with Skofic in third.

But Higuchi upstaged them, making it through that tricky section to get to 37 and clinch his first World Cup win and finish third in the series.

Stefano Ghisolfi of Italy took the overall lead World Cup title after he and nearest rival, USA's Sean Bailey, both failed to reach the final.