This evening, the final event of the five-part North American Cup Series came to a close. Ranging from Salt Lake City through to Kanata, the NACS brought athletes far and wide in effort to progress North American competition.
The Series included Speed, Lead and Boulder events, developing athletes of all disciplines. Although the United States hosted the first three events, BC and Ontario brought home the final two competitions. With the conclusion of the Richmond Oval’s Lead and Speed events earlier this month, many boulderers awaited the Kanata-based bouldering competition with anticipation. For several athletes, this opportunity represented their first to compete since the onset of the pandemic.
With a scramble-style qualification round featuring eight boulder problems per gender category, competitors kicked off having to climb as much as possible to qualify for the next day’s semi-final event. This morning’s semi-final came complete with four boulder problems, 20 competitors and six available spots for finals in each gender category. The exciting round did not have commentary, but that would change in the evening’s final round.
Plastic Weekly’s Tyler Norton hosted an exhilarating finals that saw 12 climbers compete across both categories with five minutes to ascend each of the round’s four problems. First out for the women was American Ashley Fisher. For men’s finals click here.
The dynamic kick-to-stick movement of W1 simulated a run-and-jump. Most athletes simply leapt onto the FIT volume before swinging over to the gaston marked with red tape. This hold became the W1 Zone, and it appeared relatively easy to attain. As the competitors entered the field in reverse order, the lowest qualified athletes got to climb first. After sticking the Zone, Fisher moved through the final grips of the problem and secured herself a flash of W1.
It seemed as though this would be the case for all subsequent women, but the first move proved more challenging than expected. Ontario’s Indiana Chapman made progress on the problem, but could not secure the Zone or the hold before it. Her five minutes expired before she made an ascent. As the rest of the field progressed, none would flash the tricky move.
Paige Boklaschuk looked strong and sent the problem on her second go while, while Sydney Park, a leader in this competition, was stumped by the large move. Olympian Alannah Yip followed, sending after three attempts. Next out, leader Madison Fischer found her way through the Zone on her first attempt. However, she misread the beta at the top and fell. Securing the Zone again on her third attempt, she fell matching the final hold with only seconds remaining. It appeared unlucky.
W2 brought with it another brand of difficulty. The bright white triangles of the women’s slab provided an insurmountable technical challenge for Fisher and she walked away with her time expired. Chapman came out next and climbed slow through the balancy sequence. Rocking on the low-profile triangles, she balanced through the boxes and found her way through to the final press. Chapman flashed W2.
Boklaschuk followed falling on the slick slab before finding better purchase. Feet secured, she moved her way through the Zone and found the Top and the lead on W2. Park had an unlucky slip in her final attempt, making it all the way to the final volume, but falling in the midst of her match.
While Park may not have made the Top, it appeared that Yip would push through to the finish. The historically powerful climber had difficulty securing this box and was thus thrust into the hot seat. Fischer followed Yip’s fall with an ascent of the problem, but the scoreboard only read in favour of Boklaschuk. Boklaschuk’s commanding lead of two tops loomed over the other competitors.
Once more shifting styles, W3 provided a unique opportunity for the more powerful climbers to show their stuff. Pulling on black crescents, the setters seemed to ask both how big the biceps of the climbers might have been as well as the strength of their fingers. Moving out of the crescents onto small crimps, competitors had to trust a small foot for a final throw to the finish. Fisher would fall just short of the Top.
Fighting her way back into the game, Chapman followed to fall far all without her knee-brace. This suggested a tactical decision, but likely came with some risk given the height of the final move. In any-case, Chapman secured the finish hold in just a few attempts and joined Boklaschuk at the top of the field.
Not to be outdone, Boklaschuk followed and fought her way to the top of W3. Retaking the lead, Park needed to make moves if she wanted a shot at podium. Not to be outdone, Park showed why she was in finals and secured a Top before giving space for Yip and Fischer to enter the field.
Although Yip trailed Boklaschuk by two tops at this point in the competition, she retained her cool and flashed W3. The definitive Top threw her back in the running. It would all come down to W4. Although Fischer would not flash, her top of W3 proved significant. She too would need to top W4 if she wanted to make podium.
The exceedingly technical and powerful style of W4 proved challenging for many of the competitors. None would make it to the top. None, except one. Maintaining a professional mindset, Yip entered in on the yet unsent W4. Moving precisely, Yip did not waste a movement. Wrapping hard, she pressed over the final angle change and into the penultimate hold. Standing, moving, Yip found her way to the Top. Yip came back to win gold.
1 – Alannah Yip (CAN)
2 – Paige Boklaschuk (CAN)
3 – Indiana Chapman (CAN)
4 – Madison Fischer (CAN)
5 – Ashley Fisher (USA)
6 – Sydney Park (CAN)