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Massive Showing at Ontario’s Up the Bloc Competition

Samuel Tiukuvaara and Madison Fischer took home gold

New shoes and fresh chalk mark the beginning of bouldering season in Ontario. This weekend, 97 men and 54 women competed in the open category at Up the Bloc. Such a volume of climbers for an OCF local competition marked the increasing popularity of the sport.

Hamish Thomson, the head setter of this OCF local, was impressed by the effort put forth by the gym, relating that “lights and music go a very long way to make [a] competition memorable.” The climbers themselves added to this affect, with athletes like Yves Gravelle taking the field.

Setting for strong competitors adds complexity to the route setting of any competition. Athletes this strong require creative approaches to setting boulders to separate the field. Thomson approaches situations like this as a professional. “Setting for a strong field is not a huge challenge if you’re familiar with the climbers. The hard part is when the climbers are really strong but also super well rounded.”

Fortunately, managing the difficulties of complex competition is what route setters like Thomson and his crew do best. With five boulders for the men and five for the women, there was a lot of preparation that went into setting this smooth and seamless competition. Hamish attributes this success to his team, an array of talented climbers and route setters based out of the GTA.

The competition ran the length of the day, stretching into the evening. For those going to finals, maintaining focus and clarity was one of the most challenging parts of the competition. Even Samuel Tiukuvaara, the first place finalist for the men, found maintaining the psych difficult. For him, “winning this comp help[ed] mentally… historically [he would] usually qualify well for finals and then get shut down,” in the final rounds of the competition.

Even still, qualifiers went well for Tiukuvaara, flashing all but one boulder. The qualification round continued, narrowing the field to six finalists. For Tiukuvaara, “Finals was brutal”. Listening to Dylan Saffrey, the second place finalist, take down boulder after boulder put the pressure on the Ottawa climber to perform as best as possible. In the end, Samuel won by a single attempt, defining the slim margins for error that exist within the sport.

For the women, Finals brought a challenging format. Third placed finalist Riley Galloway found that the route setters put “very burly and powerful climbs at the end of each round. It showed who had energy left in the tank and who was willing to fight for the zone or the top.” She described the climbing as a test of “endurance and grit” balanced with the “positioning and thinking” required to send the climbs.

Madison Fischer took home first place after an impressive performance, winning by two zones and a top. Qualifying for finals in first place, Fischer entered finals motivated and delivered. With three tops and four zones from the final round, Fischer walked away from the day looking strong.

Photos by Will Johnson

For full completion results, from Open categories through youth categories, visit  here.

Podium Men/Women

1. Samuel Tiukuvaara / Madison Fischer
2. Dylan Saffrey / Jane Cuff
3. Yves Gravelle / Riley Galloway