For the first time in the history of the IFSC, the Bouldering World Cup was held in North America. The chosen venue for the event was none other than Vail, Colorado, a small touristic skiing village in the rocky mountains. A truly classic area to hold this event. The event was actually part of the Teva Mountains Games, which is held there every year.
All the right ingredients for a great competition were there:
- Super strong climbers, including, to name only a few, Kilian Fischhuber, Gabriele Moroni, Chris Sharma, David Lama, Anna Stöhr, Katharina Saurwein, and Natalija Gros!
- Superb alpine village of Vail, Colorado
- Good weather (well… for most of it…).
First Impressions: no Plan B for bad weather
As we approached Vail on Thursday afternoon, we hit some pretty wet and snowy weather, which I am told is not that unusual at that time of year in the Rockies, which started to worry me a little knowing that the event was supposed to be outdoors. I remember thinking to myself, “these people have organized big events like these, they must have some sort of plan B”, but, to my surprise, when we got to the outdoor climbing wall to get acquainted with the set-up, there was no “plan B”. In fact, there was, the kids were climbing under a blue tarp that was hardly covering the whole wall, and the water was starting to seep through the cracks of the amazing wall (no sarcasm here! It really was amazing) from Pyramid. ONe thing I would recommend is to have a wall with a built-in roof.
The next day, we had to get up pretty early (around 6am) to make it to the isolation, which closed at 8am to allow the competition to start at 9am. Because of the bad weather and the wet mats (so they say), the competition was delayed until about 10am and the routes were finished (and a couple of holds were even changed) at about 5 minutes to 10! As a spectator, I was pretty surprised to see them changing some holds like that at the last minute, but that’s another story. It turns out that the qualifiers were set way too hard. Out of about 40 women, only 7 of them completed one of the four problems (the same one!), which meant that most of the 20 spots were filled by climbers who didn’t finish one problem (the tie was broken by the zones they had completed). This also meant that the only difference between the 23rd place and the 12th place was one try for one zone! It was extremely anti-climatic for the spectators to see super strong climbers not able to finish qualifying problems…
The finals itself were amazing! I think that the route setters learned from the qualifying round and the semi-finals, because the routes for the final were pretty much perfectly set. In fact, the difficulty was really well setup for the spectators. I’m focusing on the man’s final problems, but the woman’s final problems were equally well set. Props to the finals setters! The first problem was pretty easy for the strong guys, which puts the spectator in a great mood for the comp, then the second problem was a lot harder, showing the spectator that not everything is easy in climbing. In fact, nobody finished the second problem! The third problem was good enough to give us a show, but also hard enough to separate the best of the best. The last problem was simply perfect. So perfect that only two climbers finished it, ultimately separating them for first and second position, keeping the suspense all the way till the end of the comp!
- Alex Johnson
- Katharina Saurwein
- Anna Stöhr
- Tiffany Hensley
- Vera Zijlstra
- Alex Puccio
- Kilian Fischhuber
- Gabriele Moroni
- Paul Robinson
- Gérome Pouvreau
- Daniel Woods
- Tyler Landman