This weekend will see Canada’s first National-level competition since February of 2020. Between lockdowns and gym closures, it’s almost unbelievable that competition has returned in such force.
How to Watch
Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC) has worked hard to facilitate what will become the largest National bouldering event in Canadian history. With 150 competitors across two gender categories, the CEC is primed for Saturday’s massive qualification round.
The event will kick off with a technical meeting on the night of the 26. Competitors will then begin climbing the following morning at 8:30 am. Due to the massive volume of climbers, the CEC has chosen to embrace a two-heat format, with the second heat begin five hours after the first. The qualification round will conclude around 5:30 pm on Saturday November 27.
Unlike the recent North American Cup Series (NACS) Events, the qualification round will follow a five-minute flash format as seen in the IFSC. That means that athletes will have five minutes to climb each of their boulders and will be allotted five minutes rest between problems.
The 20 climbers who achieve the most Tops and Zones in the fewest number of attempts will move onto the semi-final round. Although the qualification round will not be streamed, both the semi-final and final rounds of competition on Sunday will have live streams featuring commentary from Pete Woods. To follow the qualification, semi-final and final rounds’ scoring, simply download the Vertical Life application. Vertical Life will provide live scoring of the event.
You can find the Canadian Bouldering Nationals livestreams on the CEC YouTube channel. Both semifinals and finals will run on Sunday October 28, however semis will begin at 9:30 am EST while finals will begin at 3:30 pm EST.
With over 150 competitors to watch, naturally several can walk away with the victory. With both Alannah Yip and Sean McColl competing in this weekend’s competition, it will be exciting to see whether these two reclaim National titles or whether the younger generation of Canadian boulderers can replace them.
In the women’s field, at least 10 athletes could walk away with gold. As defending Champion Allison Vest has elected to not compete in this weekend’s competition, the women’s category will have a new Bouldering Champion.
After her victory at the recent Kanata NACS event, Olympian Alannah Yip heads into Nationals as the decided favourite. Her consistency is difficult to match, however, she was not alone in strong bouldering performances this year.
Madison Fischer out-qualified Vest in the Albuquerque NACS event this year and seems progressively more consistent. To that effect, both Sydney Park and Paige Boklaschuk put up strong fronts in the Kanata event. It seemed that Boklaschuk had the capacity to win given a different W4 in finals. Although Park may not have climbed the finals she would have wanted to, the 17-year-old led qualies and semis in first place.
Separately, athletes such as Indiana Chapman, Babette Roy, Zoe Beauchemin, Becca Frangos and Evangelina Briggs could each walk away with podium places or first position. Roy has trained hard this last year, Chapman offers incredible consistency, and Briggs has shown unbelievable potential since 2018.
In the men’s field, it is another series of strong athletes. In some ways, McColl seems favoured to win due to his impressive fitness and experience. However, he took time off after the Olympics and might not be ready to rip in this event.
At the same time, it does not take athletes of McColl’s caliber much to return to strength after a break. It will be interesting to see how he performs. Another arguable favourite is Lucas Uchida. After two consecutive NACS victories in BC and Kanata, Uchida seems difficult to usurp heading into Nationals.
He will be competing against the likes of Victor and Oscar Baudrand, and Sean Faulkner, all of whom have climbed V14 within the last two months. To that effect, Brennan Doyle has become a powerhouse to watch, he just has not competed in an NACS event, so we do not know how he compares. He has also climbed V14, however, and did so over a year ago.
Naturally, competition is more than hard outdoor ascents. Ivan Luo, Guy and Kindar McNamee, Seb Lazure, Nathan Smith and Zach Richardson could each find their way to the top of the podium. Lazure is recently back from injury, so it will be interesting to see how he performs. Furthermore, Guy and Kindar are the defending Open and Junior Youth Bouldering National champions respectively and could have strong showings this weekend.
Richardson is possibly the strongest climber in Canada in a powerful style, and Smith appears in the final of most every competition he participates in. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.
Featured image of Alannah Yip by Daniel Gajda.