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Team Canada Faces Stiff Competition at NACS Finals

The North American Cup Series continues in Vail with two Canadians taking on a field filled with strong Americans and an Olympian

As Grossman earns her fourth consecutive gold medal at the Brixen World Cup, the second North American Cup Series (NACS) event brings two Canadians into finals. American Olympian Kyra Condie and American strong man Timothy Kang lead the way, but Allison Vest and Sean Faulkner represent Canada heading into Vail’s Boulder finals.

Kyra Condie

A challenging W2 eluded the women’s semi-final category in Vail this afternoon, as athletes fought for Tops among their remaining three boulders. Kyra Condie led the way by taking three tops and four zones in the second round.

Condie led the qualification round as well, offering a consistency in Boulder we have not seen from the Olympian in recent months. Her return to performance after not making the US Boulder National Team speaks well of the athlete’s drive and continued focus on higher goals.

After she qualified for the US Lead National Team, Condie mentioned switching gears to focus on the more deliberate roped discipline. She mentioned in a podcast with the Nugget Climbing that the Lead Competition format may better suit her back as it has a steadier style of movement. Modern bouldering competitions feature large fibreglass grips and bendy complex movements that she has found difficult to navigate. Despite her Lead focus and her less flexible back, Condie continues to push into the top end of the US bouldering field even after months away from competition.

As shown on her Instagram, Condie returned to board climbing to push her power alongside her endurance. It appears that such work has resulted in her dominant performance at this weekend’s event.

Allison Vest

She is not alone. After taking a sabbatical from competition altogether, Canada’s Allison Vest has returned with a renewed psych that has brought her into her first NACS Boulder finals in over a year. Since taking time away from competition, Vest has poured herself into the outdoors, climbing her first V14 just after the new year.

She qualified for finals in Vail with two Tops and four Zones, only trailing behind the second place qualified Zoe Bitters by two attempts to Top. Climbing partner and former US National Champion Alex Johnson scored the same as Bitters, but took third due to countbacks. Campbell Sarinopoulos retained her place near the top of the field, dropping from second to fourth.

Given the current results, it is anyone’s game for podium. Canadians will be excited to see Vest compete in finals this evening as she takes on some of America’s best climbers.

A Tight Men’s Semi-final

By contrast, the men’s field saw four athletes top all four boulder problems. Only Timothy Kang managed to flash all semi-final boulders, but Simon Hibbeler, Luke Muehring and Dillon Countryman each brought their own flare to this afternoon’s semi-final. They climbed all four problems in eight, 11, and 12 attempts respectively.

Kang may be the most technically adept in the field, but Luke Muehring and Simon Hibbeler each have power to spare. Although they are both very strong, Kang will have fresher skin and muscles after only pulling on the wall four times to get through his semi-final.

Sean Faulkner

Representing Canada, Boulder Nationals silver medalist Sean Faulkner cemented his spot in finals with two Tops and four Zones. As another technically adept climber, his ability to perform in finals will be dependent somewhat on the round and his resistance to fatigue.

Still, the skilled, often lead-climbing-described competition climber is consistent with his attempts. In Canadian Boulder Nationals, he managed to pull hard on the heaviest and steepest boulder of the round with a Top of M4.

Climbing hard late in the round is necessary to succeed in competition and will be one metric by which the Canadian will be tested in this evening’s event.

Finals begins at 7:00pm EST.

Follow live results here.

Women Advancing to Finals

1 – Kyra Condie (USA)

2 – Zoe Bitters (USA)

3 – Alex Johnson (USA)

4 – Campbell Sarinopoulos (USA)

5 – Allison Vest (CAN)

6 – Catherine Harty (USA)

Men Advancing to Finals

1 – Timothy Kang (USA)

2 – Simon Hibbeler (USA)

3 – Luke Muehring (USA)

4 – Dillon Countryman (USA)

5 – Charles Barron (USA)

6 – Sean Faulkner (CAN)

Featured image of Kyra Condie by Daniel Gajda.