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Tour de Bloc Climber’s Rock: Brock and Briggs triumphs at Bloc Buster

Tour de Bloc kicked its 2015 season off in Burlington and Canmore on the Jan. 10/11 weekend. Here is a run-down of the high-energy comp at Climber’s Rock 

Kerry Briggs on her way to victory at the Bloc Buster Tour de Bloc competition, held at Climber’s Rock. Photo: Aidas Odonelis | Ruby Photo Studio

More than 200 competitors gathered in Burlington to climb at the first Tour de Bloc competition of 2015, Climber’s Rock’s Bloc Buster. One of three competitions, Tour de Bloc Elevation Place in Canmore and SCBC’s Triple Header at The Boulders Climbing Gym in Sannich being the others, taking place across Canada this past weekend.

The qualifiers were hard fought, Florent Balsez, who just missed the cut for finals, commented “It was tough, there are a lot of strong climbers here today, especially the Americans. The problems were hard, but good and the right level for this field. I am happy with how I climbed today.”

After the qualifier dust settled, six women (Beth Vince, Kerry Briggs, Olivia Wyett, Pia Graham, Esti Tweg and Clarrie Lam) and 6 men (Jon Brock, Dylan Barks, Gary Posey, Travis Van Ryn, Lucas Uchida and Zach Richardson) earned a berth in the final round to contest for the win.

[shareprints gallery_id=”10653″ gallery_type=”thumb_slider” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]Photos: Aidas Odonelis|Ruby Photo Studios

The first problem for the women feature a short traverse across slopers and pinches to a short throw around an arête to a bad sloper requiring some precision to hit without falling off. Lam struggled with the timing and force of her throw, but managed to unlock the sequence for the send just as her clock ran out, for a dramatic last minute send. The rest of the women had similar difficulty with the throw, except for Kerry Briggs and Pia Graham, both easily cruised the problem on their first go.

For the men, head setter Aaron Eden opened with a steep power problem. Zach Richardson was initially shut down by the opening move, a shoulder wrenching throw to a bad gaston, but buoy by the home crowd, Richardson stuck the move with authority, and finished the problem. Third place qualifier Gary Posey looked super smooth and set for the flashed, but came up just short at the finish. Posey then made repeated attempts but was unable to replicate his high point, this effort would come to cost him as the round wears on. Top qualifiers Jon Brock and Dylan Barks both made short work of the problem.

Zach Richardson is a climber to watch for years to come.
Zach Richardson is a climber to watch for years to come. Photo: Aidas Odonelis | Ruby Photo Studio

The second problem put the women on steeper angles with burly moves on pinches. Young talents Esti Tweg and Olivia Wyett both looked set for flashes, before being stymied at the finish. Briggs and Beth Vince both finished the problem, with Briggs taking another easy flash. Pia Graham was the big casualty on Problem two, struggling to even hit bonus, dropping her from contention for the win.

Men’s problem two started with a small but tricky dyno to a massive triangular volume with little texture and some jibs for holds, after which they had to mantle the greasy volume to reach the finish. Most competitors took multiple attempts to stick the volume if they managed it at all, except Travis Van Ryn, who easily floated the dyno first go, only to flub the last move. Van Ryn made short work of the problem on his next attempt, a send that was key to vaulting him up the final standings. M2 was the only problem to elude top qualifier Brock, but Lucas Uchida struggled the most of all the men. The normally on fire Uchida struggled visibly on the first two problem, perhaps still feeling the fatigue from the qualification round, having climbed up to the last minute during qualification in order to make finals.

The women caught a breather on problem three, a delicate and technical affair up a series of yellow slopers arrange in a unique “S” pattern. The problem was sent by all the finalist save for Lam, who came up just short going to the finishing hold. Both Briggs and Beth Vince dispatched the problem with ease, and the flash meant Briggs was a perfect three for three, giving a solid lead heading into the final problem.

There was no such respite for the men, as the setters put them on the steepest and tallest central section of the wall, with big moves on volumes. Young Zach Richardson had the crowd going early, with multiple attempts at an all out double dynos to stick a featureless square volume. Though he ultimately came up short on the send, Richardson made clear that he is a competitor to contend with for years to come. But the biggest surprise was Lucas Uchida, who had struggled up to that point. Uchida clearly rallied while in ISO, and launched up the problem on a mission, taking the only flash of the problem, and putting himself on the score board for the first time.

The final problem was predictably the hardest for both the women and the men. A run and jump to two slopers lead into a series of pulls on slopey pinches, and the first fall of the evening for Briggs, briefly opening the door for second place Beth Vince to potentially snatch the win. But Briggs easily dispatched the problem on her next try, shutting the door on Vince. Vince did flashed the problem to lock up second place, while Esti Tweg pulled out the send as the clock ran out, to secure the final spot on the podium. Despite her victory, Briggs is already looking towards the next competition, “I have a lot more training to do, I am hoping to be a lot stronger by the time of the Nationals, and possibly the World Cups after that, but those seems far away right now.”

Photo: Aidas Odonelis | Ruby Photo Studio

Small crimps on the Men’s final problem formed the launching point up a series of slopers on massive volumes, which nearly all the competitors struggled with. Travis Van Ryn looked good for the send momentarily, but ran out of gas before the finish. His quick ascent of problem two however was good enough to help clinch second place. Top qualifier Jon Brock crushed the final problem, the only one to do so, taking the win and a fitting finale to the competition.

Men’s Results

Jon Brock
Travis Van Ryn
Dylan Barks
Lucas Uchida
Zach Richardson
Gary Posey

Women’s Results

Kerry Briggs
Beth Vince
Esti Tweg
Pia Graham
Olivia Wyett
Clarrie Lam

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