Ai Mori 2022
If there is any standout climbing competition news of 2022, it would have to be the return of Ai Mori. When everyone expects the queen of competition climbing Janja Garnbret to win every single competition she enters. It is hard for most to believe a young babyface, short and skinny Japanese girl is standing on the top step of the IFSC podium while Janja is on the lower step.
In case you thought it must be a fluke, Ai Mori defeated Janja twice back to back in 2022. The first win was in Koper (that’s in Slovenia if you didn’t know). If there is a place where Janja wants to win is in front of her hometown fans. But instead, it was Ai Mori, winning her first-ever IFSC lead competition since she last participated in 2019. Ai Mori handed Janja her second defeat in Edingburgh the only 2 IFSC Lead events where they both competed in. This means in 2022 the score is Ai Mori 2 and Janja Garnbret 0. A result most find hard to believe.
In the world of social media, athletes are expected to be friendly, always smiling and waving to the crowd. Ai Mori does non of that. Walking up to the wall turn to face the judges and the crowd gives a few nods and off she goes. After making quick work on the route she’ll turn to the crowd gives a few nods and walk off the stage. It is clear that Ai Mori has only one thing on her mind, to climb and compete.
Even after defeating Janja and standing on top of the podium, she is nearly expressionless until the cameras started flashing. It seems like to Ai Mori everything else apart from climbing is just a chore even celebrating her victory on the podium for defeating Janja GarnbretSale: Up to 50% Off | Outdoor Research
Ai Mori – IFSC Timeline
Ai Mori was born in 2003 and showed great potential at a young age. She burst onto the scene at the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships by becoming the youngest Japanese athlete to finish on the podium in third place. A short climber standing at 1.54 m (5 ft), she had proved that a limit in height and reach is not an issue in climbing. Creativity, good body control and super strong grip strength can overcome the limitation in reach.
After the 2019 season, the world we know changed as everyone was trying to stay alive so did many of the athletes. Hence when things start to normalise and international travel resumes we are finally able to witness someone who is capable in defeating Janja Garnbret in an IFSC Lead World Cup competition. To make a statement Ai Mori finished the 2022 season by winning the IFSC Morioka Boulder & Lead Combined World Cup as well.
IFSC Women’s Final Koper 2022
IFSC Women’s Final Edinburgh 2022
IFSC Women’s Combined Finals Morioka 2022
What to expect in 2023
If the 2022 performance of Ai Mori is anything to go by. Then in 2023, we are going to witness a fantastic IFSC season. Ai Mori had shown that her lack of height is not going to be an issue in bouldering as she had proved in Morioka. She was able to stay neck and neck with other much taller competitors during the finals with her unique beta and technique, finishing just behind the bouldering leader Natalia Grossman. But it was her lead that just blow everyone out of the water. Making her the clear winner in the combined finals.
However, 2023 will be the start of qualification for Paris 2024. All the top climbers will again be gunning for the few available spots in the Olympics. The IFSC 2023 season starts in April at Hachioji Japan. Unlike 2022 when many top climbers were taking a break from competition climbing. Hopefully this year we will see all the top climbers returning to compete. The 2023 IFSC lead climbing season starts in June at Innsbruck Austria and will be an epic battle between Janja Garnbret, Chaehyun Seo and Ai Mori.