As the World Cup rages on in Salt Lake City, Canada’s next generation of professional climbers took to the mats. Since Wednesday, Le Crux Laval hosted hundreds of competitors across the Youth B, Youth A, and Junior categories. After four days of competition, new Youth National champions were decided.
In the Junior category, the oldest of the three age groups, BC’s Ethan Hoffman led the field with ascents of all boulders in each of the three rounds. Hoffman began his competition qualifying in third behind Matthew Rodriguez and Jaxson MacDonald by attempts.
MacDonald bested Hoffman in semis, climbing each of the four boulder problems in three fewer attempts to Top than the Open National Champion. In finals however, only Hoffman managed to keep it together on the fourth boulder, earning his Junior National Bouldering title on his fourth attempt to Top. Hoffman is now both the Junior Boulder National Champion and the Open Boulder National Champion.
In the women’s Junior category, Alberta’s Riley Galloway and Ontario’s Sydney Park battled it out for the top spot. Galloway led Park through qualifiers by three attempts to Top, but Park fought back to earn first position heading into finals. Galloway slipped from first to fifth in the semi-final round as she only secured two of the four available Tops.
Maintaining her focus, however, Galloway became the only woman to climb all four problems in finals. She earned a decisive victory over the competition. In the end, Park took second over third-place finisher Makayla Koci who also climbed an exceptional event after sending all qualification boulders and remaining in the top three positions for the rounds.
Most recently noted for his strong Speed performance in Seoul, World Cup competitor Dylan Le showed himself as multi-capable by taking gold in Laval. Unlike the Junior category, Youth A had several contenders each vying for the top spot. Ontario’s Ian Tan, for example, climbed a perfect qualification round, establishing an early lead over the competition.
Conversely, Quebec’s Le secured only five of six Tops. Seventh place qualified Ben Chapman came back hard in the semi-final round concluding his semis in first by four attempts. Tan and Le followed into finals, and the results reshuffled to bring Le to the top of the field. Only Le managed to Top M4 in finals. He did so by flashing the otherwise unsent problem. Chapman and Tan secured silver and bronze respectively.
In the women’s category, there was poor separation. In part, this speaks to the ability of the field, but the top seven women all sent all six qualification boulders. As this is the first round, and 20 move onto semis, this result was not so poor, but in semis, both Jacqueline Ho and Alexa Vanier sent all four problems. Again, as this is a qualification round, this is not a massive problem, but finals saw all three medalists top all four finals problems. Separation still occurred by countbacks, and the setters had a lot of boulder rounds to make for this competition, but still, an ideal situation would have seen better separation through the Youth A women’s rounds.
In either case, congratulations should be offered Jacqueline Ho, Alexa Vanier, and Hannah Musgrave, all of whom climbed dominant competitions. Finishing gold, silver, and bronze respectively, the three climbers maintained their high positions through the length of the competition. Only Musgrave finished outside the top three, simply due to attempts in qualifiers. She still sent all six boulders.
Ho climbed and exceptional competition and though she failed to flash W1 in qualifiers, Ho proceeded to flash every other boulder problem in qualifiers, semis and finals securing a dominant win over her competition. Notably, the leaders in qualifiers, Teagan Chow and Cedar Pidgeon did not end up making the podium, but their flashes of all six qualification problems speaks toward their bright future. They both have years left in the youth circuit.
In the youngest boulder category that competed this weekend, BC’s Nathaniel Smith controlled most of the competition. He and Alberta’s Evan Lau traded first and second position, tying in the first round of the competition. They both flashed all six opening problems. Lau took a decisive lead in Semis taking three Tops and three Zones to Smith’s two Tops and four Zones. Although Smith was down a Top, his Zone on M3, where Lau failed to score, put them neck and neck.
In the final, M3 once again proved challenging for Lau and Smith took gold as the only athlete to secure all four Tops. Although Ontario’s Christian Chan failed to quite make the top two over the rounds, he remained steadfast in third position, offering strong consistency.
In the women’s field, there was another poorly separated round. Once again, the top seven women in qualifiers topped all six boulders. In semis, the separation was pretty good with only Sienna Chow and Anna Kelley sending all four problems, however, finals had four of the top six women climb all four finals problems.
Although separation did occur by attempts, this is not the sort of result that Sloane Betker, for example, should have experienced. To top all four problems and finish in fourth, as Betker did, is not ideal. With that said, a decisive victor was found in the flashing performance of Anna Kelley. Kelley held first or second through the length of the competition, and ultimately topped all four problems.
Sienna Chow came extremely close to winning by countbacks, by flashing all four problems in semis, and nearly flashing all four problems in finals. Instead, she climbed the fourth problem in two attempts, narrowly providing separation. Further recognition should be delivered to Ontario’s Graciela Briggs, the younger sister of Boulder National Champion Evangelina Briggs.
The elder Briggs competed in the Salt Lake City Boulder World Cup this weekend, though she too could have competed at Youth Nationals if she had chosen to. The Briggs family will take home a bronze medal due to the masterful and consistent performance of Graciela. She held down third for the length of the competition.
With Boulder over, many will move on and compete in Youth Lead Nationals today and tomorrow. The livestream can be found here and is worth watching to find Canada’s next greatest athletes.
1 – Ethan Hoffman (BC)
2 – Jaxson MacDonald (BC)
3 – Matthew Rodriguez (ON)
1 – Riley Galloway (AB)
2 – Sydney Park (ON)
3 – Makayla Koci (BC)
Youth A Male
1 – Dylan Le (QC)
2 – Benjamin Chapman (QC)
3 – Ian Tan (ON)
Youth A Female
1 – Jacqueline Ho (ON)
2 – Alexa Vanier (AB)
3 – Hannah Musgrave (BC)
Youth B Male
1 – Nathaniel Smith (BC)
2 – Evan Lau (AB)
3 – Christian Chan (ON)
Youth B Female
1 – Anna Kelley (BC)
2 – Sienna Chow (BC)
3 – Graciela Briggs (ON)