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Canadians Crush North American Cup Series

The second stop of the North American Cup Series is underway. The Canadians crush alongside some top Americans

The second iteration of this year’s North American Cup Series began yesterday in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although this competition will ultimately feature three separately scored events, this afternoon saw the conclusion of the Men’s and Women’s Lead Semi-Finals.

After the Qualifier’s four-way and five-way ties for the men and women, the question of separation became significant. The ties in both the Men’s and Women’s fields came from athletes topping both Qualification routes in each of their respective categories. This level of performance speaks to the increasing ability of North American climbers.

Among those to enter Semi-Finals, a few notable names stood out from the rest. For the Women, Canadians Allison Vest and Paige Boklaschuk would join Americans Melina Costanza, Julia Duffy, Cloe Coscoy, Alex Johnson, Kerry Scott, Maya Madere, Emma Hunt and several other strong American athletes.

Johnson would become the first athlete to make it through the first crux of the semi-final route. She ultimately pumped out on a sloping dish attained via inverted foot-first beta.

The USA’s Speed record holder Emma Hunt, would follow a few athletes later, climbing beyond this first crux into the second crux of the problem. Hunt would climb into 10 position, beating out Canada’s Boklaschuk to the top 10. Still, only eight move on to Finals.

Boklaschuk climbed well. The Albertan had not competed in 18 months on account of the pandemic. She moved methodically and precisely, though it seemed she may have moved too slow in the bottom of the route given her level of endurance. Her route would culminate in a dead point to a grip that she would miss, recover from, and then stick. Continuing to press, Boklaschuk fired for the next grip, but fell in her effort. Still, her 15 place looks good for the remainder of the North American Cup Series.

As the round progressed, more women moved higher up the climb. At a certain point, an obvious crux appeared at the 38 move. It seemed brutal. The difficulty of the move kicked off most of the athletes that made it there. This created a seven-way tie among the top eight climbers.

Team Canada’s Allison Vest concluded the competition in eighth position securing a place for Finals. Costanza became the only climber to move beyond Vest and her American peers. She topped the route going for a long move to a wrap. She did not appear fatigued.

This makes for at least the fourth time across World Cups and National Cup Series Competitions where a number of female athletes tied to make separation a challenging conundrum.

Among those tied for second, three athletes also tied in the qualification round. If these three athletes; Coscoy, Duffy, and Norah Chi; each tie again in Finals, it will come down to a time-to-high-point style of competition. This is due to the fact that countbacks are no longer considered after consecutive ties. By contrast, this does not occur in the Men’s field in North American Cup Series Events nor in World Cups. At least, not to the same degree.

A potential reason for this issue comes from a lack of female representation on the setting teams. The fact that this mistake continues to occur is problematic for competition and should be addressed by the event. With that said, separation did occur, at least well enough to push a group of eight definitively into Finals. Finals will be interesting to watch as the setters will want to ensure perfect separation in the Final event.

In the Men’s category, the setters did a good job of separating the field. Most everyone a person might have expected to make Finals finished in the top eight. Two small upsets occurred through American Tim Kang and Canadian Oscar Baudrand. Baudrand, moved too quickly through the bottom of the route and appeared just scattered enough to fall near the top of his climb. Both Kang and Baudrand tied for sixth in the previous round.

Although Oscar would not make Finals, his brother Victor climbed well in both the Qualification and Semi-Final rounds. Baudrand moved up through to third position, falling just a few moves short of his teammate Sean Faulkner who, after a tough start to the season, climbed in astounding form in New Mexico. He would tie American powerhouse Ross Fulkerson at 29+ moves.

As both Fulkerson and Faulkner topped both Qualification routes, their tie today in the Semi-Final will force route setters to differentiate the top two competitors. As with the women, two consecutive ties will force a timed element to the Final route if Faulkner and Fulkerson once more attain the same high point.

Finals will begin later today, August 26, at 7:55 pm EST.


Countbacks not accounted for in listed results. Results reflect USAC data.

Women Advancing to Finals

1 – Melina Costanza (USA)

2 – Estelle Park (USA)

2 – Julia Duffy (USA)

2 – Cloe Coscoy (USA)

2 – Norah Chi (USA)

2 – Maya Madere (USA)

2 – Kerry Scott (USA)

2 – Allison Vest (CAN)

Men Advancing to Finals

1 – Ross Fulkerson (USA)

1 – Sean Faulkner (CAN)

3 – Victor Baudrand (CAN)

4 – Jesse Gropper (USA)

5 – Kai Lightner (USA)

5 – Zander Waller (USA)

5 – Soloman Barth (USA)

8 – Ben Hanna (USA)

Featured Image of Victor Baudrand by Daniel Gajda.

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