A warm night in Atlanta found three new members for the women’s US Lead National Team. The two-day competition pitted 36 women against one another over this weekend’s event and brought 26 women into the semi-final. The semi-final saw places 11 through seventh tied at 29+ and sixth through fourth tied at 30+. It also gave the fourth and sixth qualifier-placed athletes Norah Chi and Ella Von Dungen zero points due to a jump start they could not reach. Two other athletes also fell on this start.
Although four women could not complete the move, 22 women were able to complete the jump. The commentators and their guest, one of the Lead National Team Trials route setters, defended the move as one that climbers will see on the international circuit. With that said, a forced jump-start did not present in the Lead World Cup Series last year.
Separation was a problem in the women’s semi-final. Three women were out of finals by countbacks. This is not a unique incident in elite-level competitions, but described a need for greater attention toward the female routes. The route setting team for this competition was entirely composed of men.
With all of that said, the women’s final route began with 16-year-old Olivia Ma. The small climber moved through the same start as the men’s route before splitting right into the fibreglass features of the second quarter of the route. The opening moves appeared primarily to fatigue the climber before a crux section 36 moves off the ground.
Ma earned the (+) for trying to move off the hold. Lead National Champion Quinn Mason came next and climbed into the same position as Ma. Had Mason moved for the (+) she would have superseded Ma by countbacks, but instead, she concluded her round with 36 points.
17-year-old Julia Duffy matched Mason’s highpoint and confirmed the bottleneck that appeared to form around the 35-point hold. US Boulder National Team Trials winner Kylie Cullen followed but slipped matching a gib on the top of a triangle volume. Cullen appeared disappointed.
Olympian Kyra Condie climbed past Cullen into the gibbed, 35-point hold. Trying to readjust before pushing toward the top of the wall, Condie slipped before clipping earning 35 points for the round. Although Ma came out first as the lowest qualified athlete in finals, she held onto first position.
Megan Lynch and Cloe Coscoy followed but both fell low on the route. These two athletes have worked so hard this season to push into the upper portions of the field, each making finals with incredible consistency. Coscoy recently won Canadian Lead Nationals, but yesterday appeared fatigued and fell before the bottleneck. Lynch has been at the top of the field in Lead after several semi-final rounds this year but has struggled to stay there in finals. She too fell lower than she would have like on the women’s final route.
Finally, the top-most qualified athlete Melina Costanza entered the field. Costanza returned to competition this year after some time off. As the US Boulder National Champion and the Lead silver medalist from the National Championships, Costanza stands to be one of the best climbers in the US. She entered this route with confidence and climbed well beyond her peers.
Although she appeared more fatigued than in many of her other competitions, Costanza topped the route and asserted herself adjacent to America’s best female climbers. In these last National Championships and Team Trials, Olympian Brooke Raboutou and World Cup gold medalist Natalia Grossman each decided to not compete. Like Nathaniel Coleman and Sean Bailey, they have already qualified for the National Team based on their results over the past season. It will be exciting to see how Costanza fairs next to these two climbers in the upcoming World Cups. She is America’s newest world class climber.
1 – Melina Costanza
2 – Olivia Ma
3 – Julia Duffy
4 – Quinn Mason
5 – Kyra Condie
6 – Kylie Cullen
7 – Megan Lynch
8 – Cloe Coscoy
Lead National Team
Boulder & Lead National Team