Rock Junior 2012: The climbing game and great sport

First images of Rock Junior 2012. It's day 2, the final one. The Under 14 Lead comp is just minutes away, the Climbing Stadium is filled to the brim. The green lawn has been invaded by the light-green T-shirts worn by all these small athletes. The team managers are handing out final words of advice. As are the parents of course.

Fotostrecke: Rock Junior 2012: The climbing game and great sport

The languages spoken are numerous, words in Italian, German, Austrian and Slovenian bounce across the stadium… it's the usual international “Babel” ever-present at Rock Junior. Here and there small groups are completing their warm-ups. Among them there's the team from nearby Schio. All in a circle, listening attentively to their trainer.

He, the trainer, happens to be Dino Lagni, crowned Lead World Champion back in 1999 at Birmingham. A glance towards the massive wall reveals Donato Lella and Leonardo Di Marino, the official route setters of Rock Master – the champions' competition – adding the final touches to the routes. A bit further on is Luca Giupponi, a former key player in the Italian sports climbing team who, together with his colleagues of the Police Rescue Squad, is preparing to belay the small athletes. And there, in the queue for the Kid's Rock, (that other peaceful invasion of youngster who are here today to experience the emotions of rock climbing) is another famous climber, Marco Sterni from Trieste who has written a fair few pages of climbing history in the Dolomites and further afield.

First and foremost though there is this myriad of youngsters and their desire to climb: they are unbelievably good at climbing and it's easy to comprehend therefore that they represent the future. All these are just tiny images. Short moments of the start which make you smile and which (admittedly) are moving. Because this is the exact photograph of this sporting passion and the greater meaning of ock Junior: a great festival for climbing and sport.

Once again these young athletes demonstrated the highest technical and sporting values, and the Lead competition is a case in point – just think that the Category A route was somewhere in the region of 7c+. But aside from this difficult grade, what is striking is their sane, almost naive ability to fight from one hold to the next, ever upwards. Every single one of them, no one excluded. Like in all serious competitions there is a final ranking. And young magical climbers who might well become tomorrow's champions.

Such as the talented climber from Rome, Laura Rogora who climbed perfectly winning Speed, Boulder (topping out on all 6 problems) and Lead by reaching the top of both routes. Obviously she's the winner of Category B, just as American Mirko Caballero is the obvious winner of his B category thanks to victories in all 3 events after having fallen a mere two holds from the top of the second Lead route. The same holds true for Filip Schenk, the great small South Tyrolean climber who won Category A with a nigh perfect run spoilt only by the second, demanding Lead route which he failed to top out on. The female vitory of the oldest climbers went to Jania Garnbert from Slovenia thanks to her two Lead tops which enabled her to beat the Italian climber Giorgia Tesio.Category C, the one for the youngest climbers born in 2003, 2004 and 2005 was dominated by Ai Mori from Japan and her truly astounding climbing, while the male category C was won by Cristian Rapa from Romania.

Much could of course be said about the other event, the second green Kid's Rock invasion. The children taking part in this are at least 5 years old… and there's no way to describe these little “squirrles”. They're simply too strong, too busy trying to climb the problems… All that needs saying is that if everyone put in the same effort, creativity and also good old fun then maybe they'd all be a bit stronger, and certainly they'd enjoy themselves much more.By now it might have become clear that Rock Junior and its small climbers touched upon something special and that, once again, it helped us relive that sane, care-free atmosphere of when we ourselves were children. And so, as the day drew to a close, no one worried too much that the rain rescheduled Family Rock, the legendary parent and children vertical relay which is the traditional finale to this event.

Talking of final, dreams and children. All 500 youngsters received a toy from Quercetti giocare intelligente. The curious thing, in keeping with the déjà vu between past, present and future, is that as a boy the director of Rock Master and Rock Junior Angelo Seneci always dreamt about having a Quercetti toy… It's as if to say that while the future of climbing progresses, some past dreams still come true. Like the passion in the eyes of these children and their technical ability which has already exceeded those who preceeded them. See you at the next Rock Junior, in tomorrow's climbing world.

The Arco Rock Master Festival (from 25 August – 2 September) will continue with the International Paraclimbing CUP, the Arco Rock Legends award's ceremony, the IFSC Speed World Cup and on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 September the great Rock Master Lead and Boulder events.

Info, results and gallery on