At the conclusion of the 2016 Bouldering World Cup series Shauna Coxsey faced conflicting emotions – she’d just secured the overall World Cup title after the best season of her life yet she faced shoulder surgery that would see her miss that year’s World Championships. Surgery is always a risk for any elite athlete and Shauna must have been wondering how well would she come back after the operation?
The question was well and truly answered as this year’s World Cup series kicked off in Meiringen, Switzerland with Shauna not only winning the event but confidently topping all four of the finals problems. All the other finalists only managed to top a single boulder apart from Austria’s Katharina Saurwein who was successful on two.
After celebrating on top of the podium Shauna posted her delight on social media “So so so so happy! I had no idea what to expect in my first competition post shoulder surgery. I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. It was so much fun out there. The boulders were amazing and the crowd was epic. THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has supported me on my come back.”
After such a perfect start Shauna didn’t have things all her own way in Round Two held at Chongqing in China. Shauna’s 3 tops secured her second place but the event was dominated by the 18 year Slovenian Janja Garnbret who followed up her flash of all the qualifiers, by topping all the problems in both the semi-final and final.
The pair then picked up their rivalry in Round Three in the last weekend of April held at Nanjing, China. Here the excessive heat played its part with the Women’s semi-finals forced into a several hour delay for cooler conditions. Shauna nevertheless pulled out a brilliant performance under pressure from Garnbret who topped all but one of the four final problems. Shauna went one better with her flash of the second problem particularly impressive as she spent two minutes on the strenuous problem working out a way to match the finishing hold. Eventually, Shauna found an unlikely successful sequence facing out towards the crowd. Afterwards, she described the feeling of unlocking the extreme challenges of the World Cup problems “I love that feeling when you commit to a move not knowing if it’s possible and find yourself still on the wall in shock”
Shauna now leads the overall standards from Garnbret and Japan’s Miho Nonaka in third. With four events remaining it will be interesting to see if Shauna’s shoulder continues to hold up and whether she can successfully defend her World Cup title.