Maxim Tomilov ran into trouble at the fifth barrel like so many climbers before him but sheer strength and experience won the day.
He was tantalizingly close to the final barrel which had eluded every climber in the Men’s Lead final.
With just seconds left, Tomilov urged on by the crowd, lunged with his right axe but fell and the crowd fell with him.
Tomilov, however, still emerged as champion in Saas Fee for the second year in a row ahead of Heeyong Park (Korea) and Valentyn Sypavin (Ukraine).
“I felt I could make the move,” Tomilov said about the final struggle at the fifth barrel. “But I wasn’t thinking about winning.”
Still, Tomilov said he was pleased he had made up for his poor showing in Cheongsong, Korea last weekend where he didn’t make it past the semi-final.
The crowd favourite was clearly Korea’s Heeyong Park who, to the blaring soundtrack of Gangnam Style and the cheers of the crowd, put on a heroic and electrifying effort to overtake Sypavin’s high point.