The second part of Salt Lake City’s triple header concluded Wednesday, crowning 13 gold medalists across two gender categories. Although the impressive event featured numerous highlights, the sharing of routes between categories provided tied results in four final events. Although separation occurred through countbacks, this event exposed room for growth. Each Paraclimbing category deserves its own finals route.
The difficulty with such a prospect comes down to the additional time and funding required for so many routes.
Finals kicked off with the women from the B1 category. B1 indicates a visual impairment where athletes listen to beta read from the ground. In the women’s category, Team USA’s Alli Raveena began the competition climbing 36 moves up the final climb. Italy’s Nadia Bredice and Slovenia’s Tanja Glusic followed, each topping the route.
The setters for the event did not appear to make the route challenging enough as Glusic won by countbacks. This three-person field should have been relatively easy to separate, but the route appeared too simple for the gold and silver medalists.
The men’s field, by comparison, featured much more complex movement, including technical fibreglass holds. Romania’s Alexandru Benchea came out first for the men having qualified third in the previous round. He climbed well but fell about halfway up the route. Spain’s Francisco Javier Aguilar Amoedo came out next and nearly topped the route at 39+.
Finally, Benchea’s teammate took to the wall as the favourite for the round. He fell at 31+ despite a strong qualification performance. The separation here was perfect. The difference in separation between the men’s and women’s categories was apparent.
The Men’s B2 category climbed the same route as the B1 athletes, with Romania and Spain once again climbing toward the top of the field. Romania’s Valentin-Laurentiu Moise came out first and maintained his third position through the round. Much like the B1 category, the men’s first and second placed athletes flipped in finals with Raul Simon Franco earning gold by 10 holds and a (+) to his teammate Guillermo Pelegrín Gómez.
The Men’s B3 category had four athletes compete due to a tie for third in qualifiers. Although Romania’s Cosmin Florin Candoi won, further cementing Romania as a dominant Paraclimbing team, Team Canada’s Chaz Misuraca earned the first silver medal of the competition for his country.
Third and fourth went to Connor Gearey and Diego Kusnir of the United States. Gearey ultimately fell 12 holds and a move behind Misuraca, showing a great disparity in the field. To that effect, Romania’s Candoi dominated as the only athlete to Top.
The seated category featured five men from three countries with Austria leading the way. Gold and silver went to Austria’s Angelino Zeller and Marku Pösendorfer. Zeller was the only athlete to Top the route, though Pösendorfer came close with a score of 44. Japan’s Hideyuki Ouchi rounded out the podium with bronze and a score of 27.
The Men’s Al-2 category was another instance of poor separation but featured exceptional participation in the qualification round. One of the barriers in paraclimbing is the limited number of experienced athletes. The Men’s AL-2 category brought 10 athletes through qualifiers and four into finals all of whom fell within a move of one another.
To begin, Spain’s Alberto Gaurdia Ferrer won the competition with a score of 39+ while Team USA’s Ethan Zilz earned silver by countbacks with the exact same score. Norway’s Sebastian Menze and Belgium’s Frederik Leys each earned third and fourth respectively with a score of 39. Leys earned fourth by countbacks.
The entire field finishing within a move of one another high up on the wall, shows the setting didn’t incorporate the athletes’ abilities into this final round of competition. The route could have been much more difficult lower down and more easily created separation.
However, to their credit, the setters were limited by the time and space allotted for the competition. A larger team and more wall would have allowed for the category-specific routes required to make a good final. The team did well consider their limitations. In the women’s AL-2 field, for example, the separation was perfect.
Australia’s Sarah Larcombe came back from second place in qualifiers to claim first with a score of 24+. Rachel Maia followed, earning silver for New Zealand with a score of 22+, three moves farther than Portugal’s Bronze Medalist, Tânia Chaves.
Italy’s Lucia Capovilla won the category with a score of 25, but the US team swept the rest of the podium. Team USA’s Maureen Beck and Eleanor Rubin scored 24 and 21+ respectively, each coming close to the Italian gold medalist. With that said, Capovilla maintained first place from qualifiers and controlled the competition.
In the men’s field, Germany’s Korbinian Franck took gold as the only athlete to Top the final route. America’s Sunny Yang came close with a heart-breaker finish on the 46, though he still would have earned silver by countbacks if he had topped. He finished third in qualifiers. Franck retained his first-place position across all rounds, while Yang swapped places with teammate Elliot Nguyen. Nguyen finished his competition with 36 moves in third place.
Another tie came about in Men’s RP-2 where Israel’s Mor Michael Sapir score and India’s Manikandan Kumar both Topped the final route. Team USA’s Brian Zarzuela came close to the leaders with a score of 41+. He fell just short of the finish but tied for first position in qualifiers.
By comparison, the Men’s RP-3 category featured perfect separation across the disparate field. Holland’s Jamie Barendrecht dominated the competition with a score of 41 in the Final. Jared Lenahan of the US and Canadian Shamus Boulianne finished their rounds in second and third.
Another tie in finals came from the Women’s RP-1 category. Once more, the competition showed the problem derived from sharing routes across categories. This means that setters cannot customize for each of the fields and instead have to try and separate multiple categories while catering to the abilities of all categories. With such different strengths between groups, this is almost an impossible task.
Austria’s Jasmin Plank retained first position from qualifiers into finals, earning gold to Team USA’s Emily Seelenfreund who also climbed to the Top of her final route. The Netherlands Eva Mol rounded out the podium with a score of 51+.
The Women’s RP-3 concluded the competition with Brazil’s Marina Dias scoring first after qualifying for finals in third. This 14-woman category was the largest of the competition and featured stiff competition on the finals route. The second through fourth place finalist all scored 38+ on the final route, with silver and bronze going to Holland’s Christiane Luttikhuizen and Germany’s Rosalie Schaupert.
1 – Tanja Glusic (SLO)
2 – Nadia Bredice (ITA)
3 – Raveena Alli (USA)
1 – Francisco Javier Aguilar Aloedo (ESP)
2 – Razvan Nedu (ROU)
3 – Alexandru Benchea (ROU)
1 – Raul Simon Franco (ESP)
2 – Guillermo Pelegrín Gómez (ESP)
3 – Valentin-Laurentiu Moise (ROU)
1 – Cosmin Florin Candoi (ROU)
2 – Chaz Misuraca (CAN)
3 – Connor Gearey (USA)
1 – Angelino Zeller (AUT)
2 – Markus Pösendorfer (AUT)
3 – Hideyuki Ouchi (JPN)
1 – Albert Huardia Ferrer (ESP)
2 – Ethan Zilz (USA)
3 – Sebastian Menze (NOR)
1 – Sarah Larcombe (AUS)
2 – Rachel Maia (NZL)
3 – Tânia Chaves (POR)
AU-2 (Forearm Amputee)
1 – Lucia Capovilla (ITA)
2 – Maureen Beck (USA)
3 – Eleanor Rubin (USA)
1 – Korbinian Franck (GER)
2 – Sunny Yang (USA)
3 – Elliot Nguyen (USA)
1 – Mor Michael Sapir (ISR)
2 – Manikandan Kumar (IND)
3 – Brian Zarzuela (USA)
1 – Jamie Barendrecht (NED)
2 – Jared Lenahan (USA)
3 – Shamus Boulianne (CAN)
1 – Jasmin Plank (AUT)
2 – Emily Seelenfreund (USA)
3 – Eva Mol (NED)
1 – Marina Dias (BRA)
2 – Christiane Littikhuizen (NED)
3 – Rosalie Schaupert (GER)
Featured image by Daniel Gajda of Francisco Javier Aguilar Amoeda