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2019 Canadian Bouldering Champions: Alannah Yip and Zach Richardson

Zach Richardson on Finals M4

What an amazing event. The final round of Open Bouldering Nationals was filled with impressive climbing – some surprises, some not – by some new and some familiar faces. There were powerful boulders, slabby boulders and some awkward-looking tricky stuff. There were some disappointing falls and exciting finishes. It was an awesome show. See recap below.

Final Results Men/Women

1. Zack Richardson / Alannah Yip
2. Nathan Smith / Madison Fischer
3. Guy McNamee / Paige Boklaschuk
4. Jason Holowach / Alyssa Weber
5. Lucas Uchida / Mika Hosoi
6. Tosh Sherkat / Allison Vest

Full results HERE

The Men

The men’s field looked quite different than in previous years, save a couple of familiar faces. Sean McColl opted out of competing this year and Sébastien Lazure did not make finals. This was a surprise, although we knew recent finger injuries might plague him.

It was a noticeably young group of men in Finals. Jason Holowach was the only male competitor over 21 years old. And, in the end, a Junior Youth climber took home the Gold: Zach Richardson

Richardson impressed everyone with his performance, even after getting off to a rocky start. He re-composed after not topping boulder one, came back and cruised number two, which gave him confidence to keep him on point through the technical problem three and the balance-y jump on boulder four.

Richardson’s win is impressive but ultimately not that surprising. He was, after all, one of our Men To Watch For. Even Richardson knew he had a chance to come out on top; before the comp when asked who he thought might win, he said, with simultaneous humility and self-assurance: “No idea, haha, I think it’s becoming impossible to predict a winner for any big comp… But I also wouldn’t want to pick anyone or I’d be admitting defeat.”

In the end, there was no defeat but rather an awesome feat for the recently-turned 18-yr-old. From not even making semi-finals at Nationals last year, this is a grand victory for Richardson.

Zach Richardson on Finals M4

Twenty-one-year-old Nathan Smith (QC) came in second and 16-year-old Guy McNamee from B.C. came in third. Like Richardson, Smith finished three of the four final problems, but whereas Smith crushed problem one, he could not figure out the necessary body movement on the jump for problem four. Smith and Richardson were separated by 2 attempts to zone.

McNamee is a crusher on the Youth circuit and now it is clear that he can hold his own in Open. With his flash of problem four, he bumped Holowach off the podium, and ended up with a bronze medal. Holowach came 4th, Lucas Uchida finished 5th and Tosh Sherkat came 6th.

Both Holowach and Uchida climbed effortlessly on the two problems they did – which, interestingly, were different problems. Not flashing the flashable second problem got in Uchida’s head and then he wasn’t able to get it done. Without that send, his morale looked low and seemed to affect his head-game on boulder three. However, Uchida was able to get it back and wowed the crowd with his send of problem four.

Lucas Uchida on top of M4

Not doing problem one was a real disappointment for Holowach, but he regained confidence with his beauty flash of problem two, and that carried over into problem three, which he executed with the keen precision and thoughtfulness of an experienced climber. Not sending boulder four was costly, though, and he ended up in fourth place because of one attempt.

The Women

Alannah Yip on Finals W2

Once again, Alannah Yip stood out as the world class athlete and national champion that she is. She took a few tries to finish problem one, which dropped her down a notch in the rankings right off the bat, in light of Madison Fischer’s perfect execution of the slab. In fact, she trailed the Fischer all the way through finals until the last boulder. But Yip was not showing signs of intimidation. For her, the technical problem three was solved with ease, where others finished it but not without some mental gymnastics.

Spectators were on edge and with sweaty palms as Yip stood below problem four at the start of her four minutes. Fischer had not sent it so a send, in any number of attempts, would give Yip the win.

Many fans had a deep down knowledge that this is the scenario in which Yip thrives: the “must send” scenario. It was also a boulder style that suited her well: powerful moves requiring body tension and good route-reading. But you just never know.

Yip crushed the boulder to the cries and applause from the crowd and came down with a huge smile, knowing that she’d earned back the title she had lost to Allison Vest last year.

Allison Vest, quite sadly, spun off problem one and injured herself on the landing. A heart-breaker for her but she wisely chose not to finish the final round.

As it turned out, even without Vest, fans still got a show-down for first place. Madison Fischer is known to be a powerhouse but she still surprised a lot of people with her outstanding performance this evening.

Madison Fischer on W4

In third place, with an equally strong performance and three tops, was Paige Boklaschuk. Climbing in her home gym, Boklaschuk seemed genuinely “at home” and happy as she climbed through the final round. She came in behind Fischer due to a few attempts to tops. Alberta’s Alyssa Weber also had a strong night and ended up in fourth place with two tops. B.C. climber, Mika Hosoi, came fifth with injured Vest in sixth.

Paige Boklaschuk on W4

Big props to Josh Muller and Regan Kennedy at Bolder Climbing Community, the volunteers, Pete Woods and Elise Sethna for emceeing the livestream, and, of course, the setting team: Fred Charron (Chief), Simon Parton (Assistant Chief), Kaleb Thomas, Selena Wong, Tristan Ploughman and Eugene Kremlev.

Watch the replay HERE