In Barcelona, 20 men and 20 women concluded the first official test event of the Boulder and Lead format we will see in Paris 2024. The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) held the event at Chris Sharma’s newest climbing gym, the third to open under the American’s name.
All 40 climbers in this weekend’s event were from Spain. In the women’s final, 16-year-old Martinez Almendros dominated. She scored scoring 99.8 points in Boulder and 100 points in Lead. Almendros would have scored perfect in Boulder if not for losing a fifth of a point to attempts.
This score describes how the new combined format weights Lead more heavily than Boulder. Although each discipline carries 50% of the total available points, earning a perfect score in Boulder is more difficult than a perfect score in lead.
Naturally this depends on the round, but as American Olympian Kyra Condie said in the Nugget Climbing podcast, the Top of the Lead climbing field tends to finish within the last third of the wall. Conversely, it is rare to see the field make similar progress across all final boulder problems.
With that said, this bias built into the scoring can be accounted for in setting. It seems that the setting team managed to offset the bias in the final boulder round as both second and third place finishers Monsech Gasca and Torres Illamola scored higher in Boulder than they did in Lead.
The scoring for this event is easier to follow than the multiplication combined format of the Paris Olympics. Instead of multiplication, competitors add their Boulder result to their Lead result. With 100 possible points in Boulder and 100 in Lead, competitors can earn up to 200 points. Almendros earned Gold with a score of 199.8. To earn second, Gasca scored 58.6 points in Boulder and 55.0 points in Lead for a total of 113.6. Illamola earned Bronze with a score of 102.8.
In the men’s field, 19-year-old Olympic Gold Medalist Alberto Ginés López competed in, and won, his first competition since Tokyo. He climbed to a score of 80.1 in Boulder and 90 in Lead with a top score of 170.1. He led the field by 69 points. Silver medalist Javier Cano Blázquez won silver with 101.1 points after a strong showing in boulder and a disappointing finish in Lead. Mikel Linacisoro Molina won bronze with a combined score of 70.8: 35.8 in Boulder, 35 in Lead.
Although this weekend’s event was the first IFSC sanctioned example of this new Olympic format, it will be contested internationally at the European Championships Munich 2022 scheduled for August 11 through the 21. It will be interesting to see how the event plays out within a higher calibre field, and whether we see a more solid example of the Lead bias. Although this competition may have seemed biased toward boulderers, it is important to remember that both of the winners climbed higher scores in the Lead event.
Featured image of Aitor Martinez Adrados by Jan Virt.