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Bailey and Shiraishi Win USA Bouldering Champions 2019

USA Climbing has two new bouldering champions; Sean Bailey and Ashima Shiraishi de-throned Nathaniel Coleman and Alex Puccio, respectively. Coleman had held the title since 2016 (i.e., for three consecutive years) and Puccio has won the event an astounding 11 times.

Neither win comes out of nowhere as both Bailey and Shiraishi have been on top of their game for a while now; they both won silver at last year’s Nationals. In fact, Shiraishi came in second to Puccio for the last two years in a row. Making it to the top of the podium this year after being so close was surely satisfying for the 17-year-old climber.

Bailey, 22, earned his win by flashing all four final problems. Those flashes turned out to be crucial as the top four finishing male competitors each swept the round, but with varying attempts. Coleman, for that matter, came second to Bailey because of one extra attempt. Drew Ruana, who performed well throughout the National Cup series, came in third.

It was a surprise that Puccio did not make it through to finals, likewise for Natalia Grossman, Kyra Condie and Michaela Kiersch, who were the top-ranked female competitors going into the comp. But it goes to show how deep the field is because finals was still stacked with high performing athletes, including Brooke Raboutou, bronze winner in 2017 and 2018.

In the end, a different Alex came second, that is Alex Johnson, who is an equally seasoned competitor and clearly still has what it takes. Rounding out the podium for the women was soon-to-be 21-year-old Margo Hayes. Hayes is perhaps most well-known for her first female ascent of a route graded 9a+/5.15a (La Rambla, 2017).

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So many emotions. THIS IS WHAT I CAME FOR!!! To be in finals with such incredible and genuine women and amazing athletes, and to put it all out there after so much time away was the BEST feeling! GOD I MISSED THIS. So much fun, so much hard work, so surreal. And so many people to thank! @breezy0811 for waking up early and coming to the gym with me, helping meal prep, being the best support ever. @ndclimber for helping me with training and movement. @lisavanahn for getting my head in the right place before this event. Everyone at @usaclimbing and all the judges and volunteers, route setters. @verticalendeavors for letting me chase dreams and still having me as a coach! Congrats to everyone this weekend and thank you all for the awesome memories. @mountainhardwear @evolv_worldwide @trangoclimbing @organicclimbing @frictionlabs @gnarlynutrition all photos @jonglassberg @louderthan11!

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Also noteworthy, Canadian Madison Fischer made it through to semi-finals and finished in a very respectable 20th place.

If you weren’t in the U.S. and/or were unable to catch the ESPN3 live-stream, USA Climbing will post the competition on YouTube in 90 days. It’s questionable whether or not making the comp available for free three months later will satisfy the flood of annoyed fans who commented on USA Climbing’s Instagram, but time will tell.

Finals Results Women/Men

1. Ashima Shiraishi/Sean Bailey
2. Alex Johnson/Nathaniel Coleman
3. Margo Hayes/Drew Ruana
4. Claire Buhrfeind/Zach Galla
5. Brooke Raboutou/Dylan Barks
6. Sienna Kopf/Matty Hong

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