Last weekend the first ever European Youth Championship Lead took place in the French village of Gémozac. The Belgian team, which had already won two European Cups this year, traveled to this village near Bordeaux with high expectations. The qualifications for the Youth A and juniors were scheduled on Saturday morning, the finals taking place the same evening after the Youth B qualifications in the afternoon.
After the morning session 5 young Belgian climbers earned their ticket to the finals: Sébastien Berthe (Junior) first climb was not so good but he compensated with a top in the second qualification. Emilie Guérit (Junior) outclassed big names to reach her second international final after Imst. Chloé Caulier continues to reach the finals at competitions. And both Loic Timmermans and Anak Verhoeven were leading their category with two tops.
In the afternoon youth B had to climb: Celine Cuypers had reached the finals in every international competition but stranded in 19th place here. On the boys’ side, Nicolas Collin was the best Belgian with a 22nd place.
In the evening, the finals promised to be spectacular. The route setters had done a terrific job, building routes with structures, volumes and technical puzzles. Sébastien and Emilie both ended in 10th place, Chloe was 9th. The crowds had to wait until the last climbers for a denouement. Loic masterfully climbed through the last difficulties. Where other competitors had difficulties, he skipped holds and with a grimace of upper concentration on his face he fixed the hold that brought him victory. Controlled and focused, he tried to top out the route, but ultimately failed.
In Anak’s category German Ana Tripa, who showed the most remarkable progress throughout the year, climbed the final route with grace. Austrian Jessica Pilz, reigning World Champion, managed to avoid all the route setters’ traps and also topped out. The crowd’s cheering was deafening. Anak knew what she had to do, she also topped. The – controversial - rules state that in case of a tie in the finals the results in the qualifications do not count, climbing time in the finals determines who wins. Jessica was the fastest, with about 10 seconds on Ana and another 10 on Anak.
Gold, Bronze and three other finals… Belgium was 5th in the country ranking. We can be proud of our young climbers with good reason!
Results and pictures of the Belgian delegation at the European Youth Championship in Gémozac