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Upsets in Salt Lake City, but Vest to Finals in Third

Allison Vest has taken down a strong semi-finals that will push her on to the Final round of competition. A round of upsets prepares Finals.

The Semi-Final Round of the first Bouldering North American Cup Series Championship wrapped up today in Utah. The four-boulder round featured 38 of America’s finest, one Canadian and an Olympian from the Republic of South Africa. Despite a strong crew in the top six positions heading through to Semis, there were upsets and nail biting for prospective finalists.

The competition began with Autumn Lloyd opening on W1. After several attempts the shorter climber had difficulty with the vertical dyno. As the round progressed more women would make the jump and then the zone. The top remained elusive for all 20 competitors.

After Lloyd, Nekaia Sanders stepped to the matts. After a strong performance Sanders would rocket from her low tiered position to the top of the field securing two tops and three zones. Ultimately her performance would earn her sixth place going into Finals.

Like Sanders, Genevieve Dennis came out quick to the matts following her 17 position moving into Semis. She would climb well, much like Quinn Mason, the athlete who qualified in 16, both ascending to fourth and fifth positions respectively. The bottom three of the final six each upset their previous performance kicking some would-be favourites out of Finals.

Of the top six going into semi-finals, only three retained their positions. Friends and training partners Cloe Coscoy and Sienna Kopf entered Semis in sixth and fifth respectively. After a hard round, only Kopf would manage to secure three tops and four zones.

Coscoy would share two tops and four zones with Team Canada’s Allison Vest. Separated by attempts, the third placed Canadian will look to take down first position in Finals tonight.

In a similar show of strength to Sanders, lowest ranked Brian Squire came onto the matts and secured two tops and two zones. This became the bottom threshold for moving to the next round. He will move onto Finals in sixth position.

Although there were fewer upsets in the Men’s field, many of those who qualified well for semis lost their top-ranked position during the round. South African Olympian Christopher Cosser appeared fatigued by the end of M4 and would not secure a Finals position despite a strong performance in the Qualifying round.

Similarly, Carlo Traversi could not maintain his fifth position nor could AJ Flynn. Replacing these athletes, Ross Fulkerson and Ben Hanna qualified in first and fifth respectively. Although not all boulders received a top, Fulkerson secured first place with three tops and three zones, Fulkerson climbed extremely calmly on those boulders he did complete.

Second place finisher Charles Barron might be a new name for some, but he did compete in the SLC World Cups, although he had a stronger performance today. He also secured three tops and three zones in two more attempts than Fulkerson. Given Fulkerson’s recent strength, Barron will recognize his result as significant.

Perhaps one of the most exciting moments of the competition came when Kai Lightner, after over two years away from competition, climbed two boulders and achieved four zones. Although tops have greater value, he became the only climber to achieve the zone on M3. The challenging slab required extreme balance and Lightner, ever the crowd favourite, remains a favourite for first position. Like Fulkerson, the movements he did complete, he completed with ease.

Zach Galla rounded out fourth position with a strong performance of two tops and three zones. Although he might have thought himself capable of completing M2, his round featured strong climbing. He, in many ways, might be the favourite to win after such a strong performance at the last World Cup, also in SLC. He will have to use fewer attempts if he wishes to win against Lightner and Fulkerson.

Although the round has now concluded, you can watch it here. Finals begin at 7:00 EST.

Women Advancing to Finals:

1 : Sienna Kopf

2 : Cloe Coscoy

3 : Allison Vest

4 : Genevieve (Matti) Dennis

5 : Quinn Mason

6 : Nekaia Sanders

Men Advancing to Finals:

1 : Ross Fulkerson

2 : Charles Barron

3 : Kai Lightner

4 : Zach Galla

5 : Ben Hanna

6 : Brian Squire

Featured Image of Zach Galla by Daniel Gajda.

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