Lead finals concluded this evening at the Richmond Olympic Oval. The two-day event brought these final 18 competitors through three rounds of competition to determine the next National Champion.
In the women’s field, Madison Fischer led by negotiating her way through a cryptic opening sequence. Although she had fresh grips as the first climber, the chalkless holds proved a difficult read. The Ontario boulderer moved well through the first set of boxes before getting tied up in a clipping stance. Down, climbing, Fischer rosed, clipped and progressed to the first great separator of the route: a sloping box.
Paige Boklaschuk and Sophie Buitendyk followed climbing smooth through the same sequence as Fischer. They climbed far enough to match the box where Fischer fell. The next move required a large throw to a positive hold, reflecting some of the more dynamic moves we have come to expect from World Cup route setting.
As there were extra competitors in the field due to the two American foreign nationals Cloe Coscoy and Sienna Kopf, who also qualified for finals, the event ran three women in a row to begin. Finn Battersby followed Buitendyk and the athlete gender categories oscillated for the remainder of the event.
Battersby climbed through a cryptic and beautiful men’s final route, negotiation friction wraps and technical footwork to find himself near the top of the wall. People began to wonder just how high the men’s field could get.
Kopf came out next on the women’s route, but the boulderer ran out of steam on the box in the same way as her predecessors. Buitendyk held the lead with a plus toward the positive grip.
Ontario’s Lucas Uchida came next pressing through the seemingly simple lower sequence. He earned an early high point and moved through several holds before climbing onto a delicate near-slab sequence at the head wall. Uchida maintained delicacy on the smaller gibs of the upper section before blowing off while moving toward a tiny dual-tex gib at the top.
Quebec’s Babette Roy was to follow, and she pushed up beyond the top of the field. After climbing through the delicate volume match, Roy unleashed toward the jump, holding an unbelievable swing. Roy squeezed and wrapped her way through the upper portion of the angle, climbing through fiberglass toward her ultimate conclusion. Roy achieved an inspiring lead, but left the door open for future progress. She appeared to pump out.
Victor Baudrand then took to the wall and climbed quickly to meet Uchida’s high point. Standing high on his feet, Baudrand pulled in tight and snatched the tiny screw on where Uchida fell. Pressing on his shoulders Baudrand climbed the dihedral made of gibs and boxes toward the top of the route. The sixth placed climber took the lead with a Top. It became unclear whether Baudrand’s Top of the route would be enough to secure Gold at this National competition.
Alberta-bred, but BC-based Becca Frangos then took to the wall showing an unparalleled level of confidence. Moon kicking for efficiency, the famously static climber embraced dynamic movement in this competition. She cruised through the dyno to the massive grip. Taking a look at the time, Frangos pulled through the second portion of the angled sequence moving well through Roy’s high point.
As she approached the head wall the tension increased. Frangos had the endurance, but could she do the climb? Standing high she moved slow through the subsequent sequence ultimately falling after going a touch too quick toward a higher gib. It was back to the boys. Frangos had secured the lead.
Kindar McNamee then took to the wall and climbed to about the same point as Battersby before falling on a powerful pinch move. It was then back over to Emi Takashiba who climbed relaxed through to the top of the angle. Resting, Takashiba began to elvis leg. She scummed her knee and tried to rest, but in the end had to go. She fell into second position.
Canada’s defending Lead National Champion was next and climbed high and well into the angle change. The powerful pinch move that gave the athletes trouble pushed back on Guy McNamee. Although he climbed well in the 40-degree, he appeared fatigued lower down on the wall. By the time he hit the pinches, he was all out of gas. He fell and found third position.
Team Canada’s first female Olympian followed, and she moved well through the dyno. Her execution was high-percentage and precise as she moved right and through the swing. Moving out of the ret, the boulderer appeared to recognize her strengths as power over pump-maintenance. She climbed quick and snatched the second crux hold, a blocked in-cut above the angle change. Resting, she managed a few more grips before falling just a couple moves before Frangos.
The younger Oscar Buadrand then took to the course and climbed well through the bottom of the route. As with semi-finals, Baudrand did not appear tired, but a slip prevented him from moving further. Baudrand appeared frustrated, but the camera was already panning to Ontario’s Indiana Chapman.
Although there was some concern that Chapman may struggle with the dynamic move in the middle, the experienced competitor moved carefully through the lateral movement onto the end of the climb. As she approached Frangos’s high point, the crowd grew excited. She went controlled, but her fingers popped just as she matched the high-point and earned first position.
Cloe Coscoy was to follow, but first Sean Faulkner took to the wall and climbed high as had his predecessors. In the end, the top of the field all settled in the last ten holds, Faulkner pushed controlled, but dry-fired off of a left-hand pushing him below Uchida. An unlucky movement, but a strong showcase of Faulkner’s ability. The interesting aspect of Baudrand and Faulkner is their lack of obvious fatigue.
Quickly it was back to Coscoy who climbed without fault. She moved slow, and effortless, turning the dyno into a deadpount and earning the highest position. In the end, Canadian Nationals went to American Cloe Coscoy who made it half a move further than Chapman and Frangos. As such, Chapman became the National Champion while Frangos took silver by countbacks. Yip earned bronze.
In the men’s field, Canadian Olympian Sean McColl approached the wall and climbed effortlessly up until the final sequence. For what would follow, the Olympian did not appear tired, but a miscalculation in the dihedral turned his final dead-point into a silver medal, giving Quebec’s Victor Baudrand Gold and securing Uchida’s bronze.
Although all of the takeaways from this competition are difficult to sum, it Is clear that the newer generations of Canadians are making themselves known as leaders. What is also clear is that Coscoy has begun her 2022 season in form. She does not fatigue. Furthermore, Victor Baudrand and Lucas Uchida each have a high-degree of strength and consistency, while McColl retains a place near the top of the field. Most notably from the men is the increasing depth of Canada’s best competitive climbers.
In the women’s field, similar progression is happening rapidly. Before the pandemic few would have thought Babette Roy such a contender on Lead and today she performed incredibly. To that effect, Canada’s best female boulderers are also Canada’s best lead climbers. It will be interesting to see progress in this as the 2024 Olympic Games approach.
1 – Victor Baudrand
2 – Sean McColl
3 – Lucas Uchida
4 – Sean Faulkner
5 – Oscar Baudrand
6 – Guy McNamee
7 – Finn Battersby
8 – Kindar McNamee
1 – Cloe Coscoy
2 – Indiana Chapman
3 – Becca Frangos
4 – Alannah Yip
5 – Emi Takashiba
6 – Babette Roy
7 – Sophie Buitendyk
8 – Paige Boklaschuk
9 – Sienna Kopf
10 – Madison Fischer
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