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Who to Watch For at Canadian Lead Nationals

Canada's Lead National Championship will take place this weekend. Who can win in this deep a field?

Canadian Lead Nations will begin this Saturday, February 19, after Friday night’s informational meeting. The National-level format will reflect the International Federation of Sport Climbing rules and qualification structure. This allows 26 athletes through to semi-finals and eight into finals in each gender category.

This event is particularly special as it is the first Lead National Championships since May of 2019. Since then, competition climbing in Canada has gone through an overhaul featuring several new contenders. Allison Vest and Guy McNamee concluded the season as Canada’s Lead National Champions, but both Yip and McColl were absent from this competition in preparation for Hachioji’s Olympic qualifiers.

Although McNamee could defend his national title at this year’s event, Vest will not compete this weekend.


To begin, Alannah Yip will look to cinch the Lead National title following a second-place finish at Bouldering Nationals earlier this year. The Canadian Olympian will not have to worry about Vest, but Yip will face many strong competitors.

The most obvious competition comes from Boulder National Champion Evangelina Briggs who at 15-years-of age became the youngest woman to win the Open National title. She has been consistent all year in boulder, but we have seen less of the National Champion on a rope. Still, the punchy six-minute style of modern lead routes may play to her strengths.

Although many eyes will focus on these two competitors, Ontario’s Indiana Chapman had the most recent strong result in Lead with a first-place finish at the Richmond Olympic Oval’s event during the North American Cup Series (NACS). Chapman took first to American Lead Champion Quinn Mason and American competitor Isis Rothfork, neither of whom will compete at this weekend’s event.

While these three women appear to have the best chance at winning Nationals, American Cloe Coscoy is participating as an independent at the event and could be lethal given the opportunity. Coscoy has improved every season and appears to bring a dedicated work ethic to her competition preparation. Although Coscoy is more of a boulderer, she has found success in Lead this year and will be one to watch.

To that effect, Babette Roy, Zoe Beauchemin, Becca Frangos, Paige Boklaschuk, and Sydney Park are all strong competitors. Of these, Frangos is the most experienced outdoor lead climber with multiple challenging 5.14 outdoor routes to her name.

Finally, one foreign national is competing in the women’s category: American Sienna Kopf. Kopf is another climber who improves year after year, recently earning second at the Bouldership Bounty at Whetstone Climbing. She is a skilled competitive climber and will be the wildcard of this event.


In the men’s field, we once again have a startling display of contenders. Defending champion Guy McNamee remains a force to be reckoned with, but he is not alone. McNamee has climbed well this year, winning first at a recent Oval competition, but this event did not feature many of the faces he will have to contend with at Nationals.

The first of these is Olympian Sean McColl. McColl is a strong Lead climber and will be difficult to shake off the podium. With that said, McColl did not climb as well as he may have hoped to at Boulder Nationals.

While McColl, does seem like a danger to McNamee’s title, it is perhaps more reasonable to presume that World Cup finalist Victor Baudrand, World Cup semi-finalist Oscar Baudrand, NACS Oval winner Lucas Uchida, or fourth place US Nationals finalist Sean Faulkner are more dangerous.

Not only did Faulkner take fourth at US Lead Nationals, but he also managed second at Canadian Boulder Nationals earlier this year. Furthermore, Faulkner has trained hard with America’s best competition climbers in Salt Lake City. These have included the Baudrand brothers as Victor returned to Salt Lake to train during Quebec’s recent lockdown.

As a World Cup finalist, Victor has competed at the highest level of competition. As a World Cup semi-finalist, this can be said of Oscar as well. This experience gives both brothers the advantage of perspective among similarly aged athletes. World Cup routes are more challenging than Nation-level routes. Progressing into even the semi-final at a Lead World Cup event is a difficult task as it requires a lot of hard climbing. Furthermore, both Baudrands climbed their first V14s this year and appear ready to break out into strong World Cup seasons.

Finally, Lucas Uchida has also come onto the scene in a dominating way over these last six months. After winning both of Canada’s NACS events, Uchida appears capable of taking home gold this weekend. A victory here for Uchida would be particularly interesting as we have not seen him compete against so many Lead climbers of this caliber in long time.

Although the above marks out the favourites, Kindar McNamee, Ethan Hoffman, Ivan Luo, and Finn Battersby could all make podium.

Whatever the result, this weekend’s event will be one to watch. Find it here, live-streamed on Climbing Escalade Canada’s YouTube channel.