Rock Master Festival 2013: Rustam Gelmanov wins Rock Master Boulder Men

Sunday's great Bouldering feast starts with the men's comeptition. 12 athletes duel on 4 problems using the K.O. formula... every problem is an obstacle that needs to be overcome to avoid being eliminated: the worst performers stop playing the bouldering game.

Rustam Gelmanov (c) Giulio MalferBoulder #1 eliminates five athletes immediately. Station #2 eliminates two, just like problem #3. Which means that on the 4th and final problem the "survivors" battle it out for victory. No doubt by now you've understood what this KO means… it's a bit like saying: "Ladies and Gentlemen, mess up and you're out!" In some respects it's also "cruel", but it's certainly highly spectacular. The only concession made to the athletes is that they can  check out problems and try the moves in the morning. Yes, because we forgot to mention a detail: the problems here are really hard and absolutely special. Unsurprisingly so, as they were invented by master route setter Jacky Godoffe.

The games begin and, naturally, it's a battle right from the outset. The first problem has a start which goes something like this: quick sprint, jump onto the board (alias a volume at the base of the wall) to leap upwards and stick, with a "shoulder push", two tiny crimps on opposing volumes. Then the problem continues leftwards to the top. Schubert, Sharafutdinov and Verhoeven start perfectly and send the problem first go, as does Australia's Webb-Parsons who demonstrates straight away that he's a force to be reckoned with… and to think he's one of the four to have qualified from the Open.Gelmanov needs a second attempt and he easily reaches the top. As does Shinta Ozawa. And, above all, as does Michael Piccolruazl. The young Italian immediately proves he's deserved the wild card that Rock Master gave him after his recent 5th place in the European Championship. He qualifies for the next round and the crowd already loves him! Those who stumble at this first problem are Glairon Mondet, Sean McColl, Huerta, Becan and Kim.

So for the second problem only seven athletes remain. The menu this time includes a long diagonal traverse to reach a round volume and, at its extreme right, the top… It looks as if the start, but also the finish, is all about delicate balance. A truly complicated game, seeing that even after two attempts no one manages to unlock the sequence. At this point the route setter shuffles the cards. Godoffe (God bless him) improves a starting foothold slightly and "voilà les jeux sont faits": Sharafutdinov and Gelmanov reach the top one after the other.Webb-Parsons then performs some magic on the last volume as he gets established to "hug" the final sphere and stick the top. A crowd pleaser, and the spectators thank him. So those who qualify for the next round (thanks to their tops) are Sharafutdinov, Gelmanov and Webb-Parsons. And also Schubert and a great Piccolruazl since they climbed higher than Verhoeven and Ozawa.

Stage three. Only five athletes remain. And after this problem there can be only three… Which means that here it's a battle for the final and also for the podium. Unsurprisingly the KO Boulder roulette is now a real riddle of the sphinx: welcome "Master Slab". And Gelmanov, the first out, immediately shows that staying stuck to the wall is no joke, and finding the right sequence and best balance is no mean task. Schubert, immediately after the Russian, confirms.Yes, precision is the name of the game here… you need to work on the tiniest of body "shifts" and milimetric changes in balance. And this is exactly what Sharafutdinov does: on his first go he sticks the start and moves left to reach the central pyramid. And then he splits out onto nothing, dynoes left and tops out. Fantastic! Gelmanov immitates him perfectly to ensure his ticket into the final. The third and final ticket is reserved for Webb-Parsons who eliminates, by just one hold, Schubert and Piccolaruz who finish their competition joint 4th.

The final lies below the large overhang. A start that faces the spectators, only to then follow a series of footless twist and turns rightwards to a dyno towards a pinch. From here it's a mix of power and momentum that lead to the top. The first attempt reveals that this problem is seriously acrobatic. Spectacular. And Gelmanov, Sharafutdinov and Webb-Parsons certainly don't hold back. After a first intro "round" it's Gelmanov who takes control. He sets off decisively, breaches the overhang with a series of elegant piroutes to reach the pinch from where he continues, dynoes and… caresses the top. Beautiful!Sharafutdinov and Webb-Parsons give it their best but their second attempt is fruitless. Gelmanov enchants everyone with this third attempt. He climbs, dances footless and weightless, but then falls on the pinch. The other two fail to do better. It's all over. Deserved victory for Rustam Gelmanov. Great Dmitri Sharafutdinov is second. Christopher Webb-Parsons third. What a competiton! This is what great bouldering is all about, a mix of imagination and pure power.

QuelleVinicio Stefanello (PlanetMountain), Foto: Giulio Malfer