Adam Ondra (c) Petr Piechowicz
Adam Ondra (c) Petr Piechowicz

The candidates for the Wild Country Rock Award are Stefano Ghisolfi (Ita), Margo Hayes (USA) and Adam Ondra (Cze), while the La Sportiva Competition Award nominees are Shauna Coxsey (GB), Janja Garnbret (Slo) and Domen Škofič (Slo). The prestigious Dryarn Climbing Ambassador will be awarded to Scottish climber and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Mike Kosterlitz.

Shauna Coxsey, Janja Garnbret, Stefano Ghisolfi, Margo Hayes, Adam Ondra and Domen Škofič. And, obviously, Mike Kosterlitz. This, in brief, is the impressive list of special guests who on Friday 25 August 2017 will take to the stage of the Arco Rock Legends 2017 awards during the traditional Arco Rock Master Festival.

These six ace climbers, and this immense climber and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate, will celebrate the 12th edition of this prestigious award that since its beginnings in 2006 has developed into the sport climbing Oscars. Or into climbing’s equivalent of the “Ballon d’Or”, seeing that the two winners will be decided by an international jury comprised of 13 specialist climbing magazines.

Obviously there’s not just one award, but three different prizes: the Wild Country Rock Award for the climber who distinguished him or herself most on rock; the La Sportiva Competition Award for the climber who left his or her mark in the last competition season; the Dryarn Climbing Ambassador for the person who has contributed to the culture of climbing worldwide.

As previously announced, this third prize will be awarded to 74-year-old Scotsman Mike Kosterlitz, the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics and legendary climber from the ’70’s who left an indelible mark in the Italian climbing culture. But what about the other two awards?

Fotostrecke: Arco Rock Legends 2017: The 6 nominees

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Wild Country Rock Award

Sport climbing at the crag and bouldering, this is the “playing field” taken into consideration by the jury which, in a preliminary session, chose three standout names: America’s Margo Hayes, Italy’s Stefano Ghisolfi and Adam Ondra from the Czech Republic who happens to have won this award four times already.

Margo Hayes homes in on Arco with an amazing climb, namely her ascent of the 9a+ La Rambla at Siurana in Spain. Put in other words: in February the 19-year-old completed the hardest climb ever by a woman. A historic achievement that couldn’t be ignored.

Just as impossible to ignore as Stefano Ghisolfi, who has increasingly become a driving force in the climbing world. During his continuous climbing trips he managed to repeat Margalef’s First Round, First Minute, at 9b one of the hardest sport climbs in the world. And in addition to onsighting 8c (a feat very few have achieved) he made a number of fast first ascents up to 9a+. Evidently it proved impossible not to consider him and the spirit with which he shares, in the “social” climbing era, all his challenges.

And what can possibly be said about a climber who sends two 9b’s in two days? Almost the absolute maximum in sport climbing, achieved not just once but twice in a mere 48 hours! The man who succeeded in this nigh impossible undertaking is the usual “Wonder Ondra” who, with another two 9b first ascents last season, is the climber dictating the pace at the upper extreme. It won’t be easy for the jury to choose between these super candidates when they meet in the morning of August 25th, also because all three candidates are driven by a love for climbing that is, quite rightly, boundless.

La Sportiva Competition Award

With an eye towards the first Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, this prize provides an indication about the direction competitions are taking and how they are evolving. It comes as no surprise therefore that the three candidates this year are all extremely young and, at the same time, superb champions in their own right which a bright future ahead of them: 24-year-old Shauna Coxsey from Britain, 18-year-old Janja Garnbret from Slovenia and her 23-year-old team member Domen Škofič.

Shauna Coxsey left her mark last season by winning the extremely tough Boulder World Cup in an absolutely convincing manner: four wins out of seven stages indicate an impressive domination in a sport that is, by definition, very difficult to dominate.

Young Janja Garnbret, for her part, made a devastating debut in the senior World Cup and last season it seemed as if she had no rivals. The Slovenian was crowned Lead World Champion, won the Lead World Cup and Combined (that takes into account Lead, Boulder and Speed), as well winning as the 30th Rock Master and victories in her youth category… all that needs mentioning is that the rising start of sports climbing was nominated for this award last year.

Who, like Coxsey, has never been nominated for this award previously is Domen Škofič and last season, after years at the top, he finally crowned his difficult dream of winning the Lead World Cup thanks to three splendid victories in seven events. He rounded off the season by placing fourth at the Lead World Championship in Paris.

Those who will try to make sense of this great Arco Rock Legends 2017 enigma are the 13 Jury members representing 8 different nations who will meet at Arco on Friday, August 25 to select the winners for the two awards. A few hours later, during the “Night of the sport climbing Oscars”, journalist, DJ and friend of Arco Kay Rush will open the two envelopes and announce the jury verdict.

Before that though she will explore the wonderful world of Dr. Mike Kosterlitz; a kingdom marked by a pure love for physics and an unbridled passion for climbing that in the 1970’s led him to create some reference rock climbs, both on short boulders down in the valley and huge big walls up in the mountains.

At first glance these two worlds, science and sport, seem like two complete opposites, but as so often happens appearances can be deceptive and both have in common a constant, never-ending search for the right formula. That “little bit extra” that eventually solves a problem, as will be revealed on August 25th by the Nobel Prize for Physics laureate 2016.

Salewa Rock Award: Josune Bereziartu (2006), Patxi Usobiaga (2007), Adam Ondra (2008), Chris Sharma (2009), Adam Ondra (2010), Adam Ondra (2011), Sasha DiGiulian (2012), Adam Ondra (2013), Muriel Sarkany (2014), Alexander Megos (2015), Wild Country Rock Award Daniel Andrada (2016)

La Sportiva Competition Award: Angela Eiter (2006), David Lama (2007), Maja Vidmar (2008), Kilian Fischhuber (2009), Akiyo Noguchi (2010), Ramon Julien Puigblanque (2011), Anna Stöhr (2012), Mina Markovič (2013), Urko Carmona Barandiaran (2014), Adam Ondra (2015), Mina Markovič (2016)

President: Giorgio Balducci (RAI journalist)
International magazines: Bergauf (AUT), Montana (CZE), Desnivel (ESP), Klettern (GER), Panorama, (GER), UP Climbing (ITA), Montagne 360ー (ITA), Meridiani Montagne (ITA), Gazzetta dello Sport – PlayAlpinismo (ITA), Il Manifesto – In Movimento (ITA), Man and Mountain (KOR), Gory (POL), Risk (RUS).

QuellePlanetMountain, Fotos: Piechowicz, Malfer, Cardwell, Wilson, Fowke, Pavana, Kosterlitz