Rock Master Festival 2013: Alex Puccio wins the women's Sint Roc Boulder Contest

America's Alex Puccio wins the Rock Master Sint Roc Boulder Contest for the second year running. Aya Onoe places second after having fought all the way from the Open, while Russia's Yulia Abramchuk finishes third.

Alex Puccio (c) Giulio MalferThe Women's Boulder Final rounds off this intense Rock Master Festival. There are athletes who have taken part in all competitions, some have even made it all the way from the Open. Japan's Aya Onoe is one of these and on problem #1 she immediately tops out while all others struggle on moves that require both "compression" and strength. The last to start is Onoe's teammate Akiyo Noguchi who – although having competed in the Lead Duel just a few minutes beforehand – climbs to the sphere below the top. And then, just like Onoe, she skips a hold and goes directly towards the last move and… invents some magic to reach the top. Yes, bouldering really is her main forte. It's time now for second attempts and the battle intensifies. Ex World Champion Yulia Abramchuk fails to trigger the power for the final move, while all other flail lower down, including calibre athletes such as Alex Puccio, Melanie Sandoz and Jenny Lavarda.

It seems as if things are stuck in a rut. But the third attempt brings with it fresh ideas and new power. And so Yulia Abramchuk finally tops out and gains the right to the next round. Annalisa De Marco does well and climbs high. But it's Puccio who now digs deep and sends the problem. Mathilde Becerra epic battle on the sphere is legendary. But no go. She hasn't got enough power, understandably so since she is one of those to have climbed in all competitions starting from the Open.She's not alone in her lack of power: both Jenny Lavarda and Katharina Saurwein fail and fall. But as things turn out this is not a problem since the KO formula is generous this time. Apart than Noguchi, Onoe, Abramchuk and Puccio who all topped out, all the others qualify for the next round seeing that they're all tied 7th equal.

So now it's time for problem #2. And as for the men, for the women this means a careful balance act: slab time. The puzzle starts with a good foothold that acts as an "island" from which – to leave it – you need perfect footwork on the tiniest of holds with nothing for your hands. This then leads to a "smear" on the corner that paves the way to the top. By no means easy!In fact, after leaving the "island" all become shipwrecked. Worse still, some even fail to stand on that first foothold… Noguchi, Onoe, Abramchuk and Saurwein need two attempts to caress the corner, while all others remain lost at sea. Of these, it is Alex Puccio who climbs slightly higher to place 5th and secure the last ticket into the next round. Which means that Jenny Lavarda, Mathilde Becerra, Annalisa De Marco and Melanie Sandoz are eliminated.

So now, after having abandoned the terrible slab, the scene changes entirely. Problem #3 breaches the large overhang. Power is the name of game here and massive locking strength is the only weapon that unlocks the starting roof. This is ideal terrain for Alex Puccio who, on her first attempt, doesn't hesitate and waltzes to the top to qualify for the final. For the others the shoulder press out of the roof proves impossible. In the end Puccio qualifies with flying colours, followed by Akiyo Noguchi, Aya Onoe and Yulia Abramchuk all tied for second. Katharina Saurwein bids her farewell.

Now it's time for the final. There are 4 remaining athletes, poised for victory. Once again the menu includes a steep overhang, this time though there's a massive double dyno. Naturally on this terrain Puccio is the favourite and winning would mean her second consecutive Rock Master victory. Onoe and Abramchuk get established for the dyno but fall.Along comes Puccio, for a moment she seems to stick the hold, but then she falls. Noguchi does exactly the same, a perfect photocopy. At this point few might expect it, but the women who enraptures the crowd is Aya Onoe who, imperiously, sticks the dyno and continues almost to the top. She's now the woman to beat. But for the others there's nothing doing; they repeat their previous attempts and fail.

So now it's time for the third and final attempt. Abramchuk fails, this problem simply isn't hers. Aya Onoe on the other hand insists that this is her boulder: she dynoes, sticks the hold and climbs strongly towards the top. But then falls once more. Everything seems decided… Now though it's Puccio's turn and the American, once again, amazes everyone: she dynos hard, holds the swing and now there is no stopping her. She climbs straight to the top!Noguchi is the only one who can beat Puccio, but it's simply not her evening. So Alex Puccio wins the Rock Master Boulder, her second consecutive victory. Aya Onoe places a marvellous second while Abramchuk and Noguchi tie for third. The curtain now closes on Rock Master Festival 2013. Just as the first rain drops fall… is this the magic of Rock Master?

QuelleVinicio Stefanello (PlanetMountain), Foto: Giulio Malfer