The first bouldering competition of the 2022 National Cup Series (NACS) concluded last night in Alexandria, Virginia. The three round event hosted 67 men and 40 women across 32 boulder problems over two days. After a year of near misses, Team Canada’s Zach Richardson found his stride.
Across last year’s NACS competitions, Canadian Boulder Nationals, and the HP competition, Richardson fell just short of podium. As one of Canada’s strongest competitors, his results surprised, especially after his incredible performance at American Bouldering Nationals in 2019.
Although Richardson struggled with consistency at the latest World Cup event, the Ontario climber appears to have reclaimed certainty in his movements after persisting at the top of the field for three consecutive rounds at this week’s bouldering competition.
As the only athlete in finals to Top all qualification boulders, and the only athlete in the field to Top all semi-final problems, Richardson’s performance was dominating. Yesterday, the final round asked athletes to fight hard. Richardson concluded his round with two Tops and three Zones, with eight attempts to Top. As such the door was left open for American powerhouse Solomon Barth.
Barth followed Richardson the entire competition. He was as consistent as Richardson, and only lost out on gold by one attempt to Top and one attempt to Zone. The men’s round provided several challenging problems with M3 seeing zero ascents. Although Richardson will not compete in next weekend’s World Cup, he can take solace in knowing that his work in the offseason will help propel him toward this year’s remaining events.
In the women’s field, a similar story of near misses followed the gold medalist. Boston’s Megan Lynch has trained hard this last year, developing into another level of climber. As one of the permanent fixtures of the American women’s final, Lynch showed incredible consistency, often leading heading into finals. In last year’s events, she found it difficult to keep the pace and lost out on the podium to the America’s other great competitors.
Yesterday, Lynch struck back, moving from fourth to first as the only woman to climb all four boulder problems. To her credit, the USA Climbing Boulder Nationals silver medalist Maya Madere also climbed well, moving from sixth to second despite her last week of competition. Collegiate Nationals must have taken a toll on the 23-year-old, but despite this fatigue, she managed to climb onto the podium.
Nekaia Sanders found herself in third after a dominating performance in the qualification and semi-final rounds. Meanwhile, Evangelina Briggs concluded her round in sixth. The 15-year-old Canadian National Champion timed out topping W1 and appeared impacted by that disappointment. Although she is two years younger than the rest of the field, Briggs puts a lot of pressure on herself to perform. Without a doubt, Briggs will remain one to watch in forthcoming competitions.
1 – Zach Richardson (CAN)
2 – Solomon Barth (USA)
3 – Henry Ritterpusch (USA)
4 – Daniel Martins (USA)
5 – Brian Squire (USA)
6 – Tanner Bauer (USA)
1 – Megan Lynch (USA)
2 – Maya Madere (USA)
3 – Nekaia Sanders (USA)
4 – Abigail Humber (USA)
5 – Madeline Morris (USA)
6 – Evangelina Briggs (CAN)
Featured image by Stephen Briggs