This year the competition for champions holds a special challenge which is destined to go down in history. Will Adam Ondra, the 16 year old total climbing prodigy, amaze all in this Lead competition just as he has done so outdoors on rock? This is the question and the challenge of the XXIII Rock Master. The Harry Potter of climbing -as he has affectionately been called by the national and international media – only recently celebrated his senior debut with, need it be said, outstanding results. The Vice World Champion "accolade" and his newest victory in the Imst World Cup prove just this.
But the road to Rock Master victory will not be easy for the young climber from the Czech Republic, on the contrary, it will be harder than ever before. Barring his way to consecration in the Wimbledon of climbing will be all the strongest in the world ranking, on fighting form like never before and by no means willing to hand him victory. Starting with Patxi Usobiaga from Spain's Basque country, the World Champion and king of Lead competitions.What is certain is that the duel between the unconquerable Basque ace and the terrible young climber promises to be unforgettable. It has to be said though that there are many who are planning to strike gold in Arco's great Climbing Stadium arena: a champion like Ramon Julian Puigblanque from Spain's Catalonia (World Champion and three times winner in Arco) certainly won't miss the opportunity to win once again. And Joerg Verhoeven from Holland, the winner of the World Cup 2008, certainly won't rest on his laurels.
Nor will veteran fighter Tomas Mrazek, the survivor of a thousand battles. And then there's the other young Austrian phenomenon, David Lama. Many will hope for an Italian victory at the hands of Flavio Crespi who has now completely recovered from the injury which kept him away from the competition circuit for a year. But surprises can come from all 13 athletes in the running for the trophy, because this is what the Rock Master is all about: a battle during which one cannot commit a single mistake, a fight which finishes at the last hold only, at the very top.The same will be true in the Women's Lead, which promises to be an authentic race to the finish. The queen to beat will be Austrian and, not by chance, she is an extremely young gun at a mere 17 years of age: Johanna Ernst. Her unstoppable victory march began here, with her win of the Rock Master 2008 and since then she has won everything there is to win, including the World Championship.
It's logical that all will attempt to dethrone her, starting with her teammate Angela Eiter, the absolute dominator of the world competitions (and 4 times Rock Master winner) prior to the arrival of hurricane Ernst. Ace Slovenian climber Maja Vidmar has certainly planned her assault carefully, as has this year's revelation, Jain Kim from Korea. Caroline Ciavaldini and Charlotte Durif from France and the other two Slovenians, Mina Markovic and Natalija Gros will be no the less. They will join forces with Jenny Lavarda from Italy and the new Italian promise, 17 year old Alexandra Ladurner from Merano. For them, too, this stellar challenge against the best in the world is wide open.