European Championship, held in Moscow from 21 to 28 November, brought success to the venue’s hostesses. We share the details.
Text: Alexey Sergunin
Photos: Leonid Zhukov
Before telling about the Russian female national team’s historical success at the Old World’s main competition, I should recall that the competition was initially scheduled for March. But covid-19 forced the International Sports Climbing Federation to postpone the deadline for late autumn, retaining Moscow’s status as the organizer.
Later the pandemic also contributed to the final balance of forces at the recent event, where the last two passes to the Olympics – 2021 from the European countries were raffled off.
Athletes from Austria, France, and Italy did not come to the Russian capital. And in general, 12 countries-participants – quite a few, although of course, could be even less in the lockdown’s current conditions.
Nevertheless, it is essential to understand who did come to Moscow.
For example, not a single athlete from the TOP-10 of the World Cup-2019 was in difficulty, and the strongest was the 13th number of last year’s circle Molly Thompson-Smith from Britain.
Petra Klingler from Switzerland (6th place in the last year’s World Cup) was a participant of the TOP-10 in bouldering.
And only in speed, the more or less strong participants came up. These are Russians Elizaveta Ivanova (4th), Anna Tsyganova (6th), Iuliia Kaplina (10th) and Poles Aleksandra Kalucka (7th), Patrycja Chudziak (8th), and Aleksandra Miroslaw (9th).
However, the personnel issue does not diminish the Russian female athletes’ achievements, who collected all the gold and won six out of 12 medals in total.
Incredibly successfully our girls performed in speed climbing. For the fourth time in the history of continental championships, all medals went to one country female athletes, and again the rivals were forced out of the podium by the Russian women.
Ekaterina Barashchuk, a Nizhnevartovsk climbing school student, who now plays for the Tyumen region, won her first international victory as an adult. In the final race, Katya was faster than Sverdlovsk resident Elizaveta Ivanova: 7.37 against 7.44 seconds.
It is Ekaterina’s second international victory on Moscow land. In 2018, she finished her youth career by winning the world championship. «In Moscow, everything is going very well, I do not know why, – said Katya. – The most difficult race was with myself, meaning everyone and no one at the same time». (smiling)
«Competitions were confusing for me – Lisa shares her impressions. – The most difficult thing was to get together after the testing; the races at this stage were “dirty,” and the responsibility was high.»
The world record holder Iuliia Kaplina (Tyumen region) won the bronze medal. The fastest girl on the planet has renewed the world record for the 10th time. She climbed 15 meters in 6.96 seconds in qualification, leaving behind last year’s Indonesian result of Aries Susanti Rahaiu (6.99).
In the final race, Iuliia defeated Poland’s Aleksandra Kalucka (+1.25).
But the most difficult for Kaplina was not the performance itself but the warm-up and pre-start period.
«We had to wear masks all the time, – says Iuliia. – It was hard enough also because I had no experience of warm-up in a mask. Sure, we followed the mask regime, but usually, we can stay without masks in the climbing area. And here we had masks on our faces all the time. It wasn’t easy to warm up. We spent a total of almost four hours in the masks and took it off only before going to start climbing. Psychologically and physically, it was very hard. You finish your performance, you need to breathe, and they make you put on a mask. We didn’t consider this point, although, in theory, you could adapt to such a situation. That is to foresee it at training: not to climb, of course, but to walk, to stretch in a mask».
Having become the third at the European home championship, Kaplina wrote her name in the event’s history. Before her, no athlete has won medals of all qualities. Iuliia now has all the precious metal: in 2017, she won gold, in 2015 – silver and now the bronze.
The real protagonist of the recent competitions was Victoria Meshkova. She has achieved a remarkable result: for the first time in the European Championships’ history, she won three gold medals.
The 20-year-old athlete won the competitions in bouldering, lead, and combined starts. And becoming the best in combined finals, Victoria followed Kaplina and won a trip to the Olympic Games 2021 in Tokyo.
In the bouldering final, Victoria climbed all four problems, just like Chloe Caulier from Belgium, but according to additional indicators (fewer attempts spent for four zones – five against six), won a gold medal.
Additional indicators were also considered necessary to define the European champion in the lead. Czech climber Eliska Adamovska climbed the final route as well as Vika. But Meshkova managed to get to the top faster: the opponents split by 42 seconds.
In the Olympic combined final, Victoria became the second in speed, the sixth – in bouldering, and the first – in the lead, and won the competition, leaving behind Stasa Gejo from Serbia (15: speed – 3rd, bouldering – 1st, lead – 5th).
It is essential to enjoy the moment, but at the same time not to “fly into the clouds,” because in Tokyo, the list of participants will be several times stronger. I hope that Victoria and Iuliia will be ready for it.