Some of you have watched pro climbing for years, and some of you might be a little newer to the format.
Either way, a new season is upon us and that means plenty of opportunities to watch some of the best in the business climb hard in front of roaring crowds. It is also a great way to see how the sport is evolving and see what ideas the route setters have been storing up over the winter.
How it works
Simply, there are a series of standalone events called World Cups. Some of these are only one discipline – boulder, lead or speed, or some have more than one discipline on display.
As well as a gold, silver and bronze medal on award for each individual World Cup, whoever scores the most points across all of them combined is crowned overall champion at the end of the season.
This is in addition to the World Championships, which is being held in August in Bern, Switzerland. This is where a World Champion will be crowned in both boulder, lead and speed, as well as in the new combined format of boulder and lead. Remember it is this format that will be at the Olympics next year in Paris, not the previous combined format of lead, speed and boulder.
On that note, climbers can start to qualify for the Olympics this year, so that will give some extra spice to the events.
Hachioji, Bouldering, – 21st - 23rd April
Seoul, Bouldering and Speed, 28th – 30th April
Jakarta, Speed, 6th – 7th May
Salt Lake City, Bouldering and Speed, 19th – 21st May
Prague, Bouldering, 2nd – 4th June
Brixen, Bouldering, 9th – 11th June
Innsbruck, Bouldering and Lead, 14th – 18th June
Villars, Lead and Speed, 30th June – 2nd July
Chamonix, Lead and Speed, 7th – 9th July
Briancon, Lead, 14th – 15th July
WORLD CHAMPS, Bern, Boulder, Lead, Speed and Combined, 1st – 12th August
Koper, Lead, 8th – 9th September
Wujiang, Lead and Speed, 22nd – 24th September
The ones to watch out for
Janja Garnbret will be sitting a portion of this season out as she continues to recover from a broken toe, so she’ll be hungry once she returns to the international scene.
Brooke Raboutou looks fully fit, but her compatriot Natalia Grossman’s form is a slight unknown heading into this season.
Miho Nonaka is another trying to put injury behind her, while Ai Mori could well feature heavily. She’s more of a lead specialist but with the Olympics looming, may well spend more time bouldering this season.
Chaehyun Seo finished last season strongly as she continues to progress from the junior ranks, and Oriane Bertone is another youngster who is always worth a watch. Hannah Meul is a lovely climber to watch, and Mia Krampl is often there or there abouts.
As for the men, that is a wide open field. Jakob Schubert hasn’t hung up his competition shoes just yet, but he’ll have the Japanese team to contend with. Tomoa Narasaki is still hanging around and has Yoshiyuki Ogata and Kokoro Fujii for company.
Luka Potocar impressed last season, as did Sascha Lehmann. Mejdi Schalck is one to watch especially given he has a home Olympics upcoming, and there is a group of strong Brits who are worth keeping an eye on.
Max Milne has made a Boulder World Cup podium, Toby Roberts took bronze in the Lead World Cup in Edinburgh last year and Hamish McArthur has been hovering around the top 10 in Lead as well. Those three will be well worth a watch, but as for Will Bosi...
At the moment, Bosi is making so many headlines on real rock it seems unlikely he’ll return to pulling on plastic, unless the alure of the Olympics proves too strong to resist.
How to watch
The IFSC struck a deal with Discovery/Eurosport who will be showing all the World Cups again this year. You can either stream them via Discovery Plus, which costs £6.99 a month, or wait for the free streams to be uploaded onto the IFSC’s YouTube channel a day after the event has aired.