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    Recap and Photo Gallery: IFSC Vail World Cup 2018—Bouldering

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    In many ways, last weekend’s ifsc meet in vail, colorado was the biggest bouldering event for americans since february’s usa rock climbing national open. While there have been five previous World Cup stops this season, Vail was the first to feature a Team USA roster with substantial depth. as a result, American viewers got a clear view of how their climbers, as a collective, stacked up against the international elite. And for tour veterans like Alex Puccio, Nathaniel Coleman and other Americans, the homemade plastic competition was an illuminating preview of some Olympic matchups that are surely on the horizon.

    Reading: Vail world cup 2018

    That said, the Vail Mountain Games has been one of the ifsc’s regular spots, ever since an event in 2005 where alex johnson and ethan pringle won “speed lock” contests, and the location always features some surprises. At an elevation of 8,000 feet and under the scorching summer sun, Vail meets often see climbers struggle with the intense mountain weather.

    The first upset came in the men’s qualifying round on Friday June 8, with Italian Gabriele Moroni, the winner of the previous world cup event in Hachioji, Japan, failing to advance to the semi-finals. Such inconsistency has characterized the entire men’s field this season, which has also seen the performances of regular finalists like South Korea’s Jongwon Chon and Germany’s Jan Hojer vary widely from event to event.

    gallery: 13 photos from ifsc vail world cup 2018: bouldering

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Alex Puccio was in strong form at the Vail World Cup. Women’s Finals proved to be a battle of America’s all-time best competitive boulderer—Puccio—against the World Cup season’s unstoppable Akiyo Noguchi.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Sean Bailey had a strong performance in Semi-Finals, flashing the first two problems to secure his place in Finals.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Tomoa Narasaki nails the dyno on Finals M2, looking strong on the problem before falling from the top hold. Narasaki had time to give the problem two more burns, but each time fell below his previous high point. He called it quits with 30 seconds left on the clock.

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    Jernej Kruder on the opening moves of M2 in the Finals. Despite having a strong season, Kruder was unable to unlock the problem.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Ryuichi Murai stems wide in the Finals M3 corner, trying to decipher the cryptic corner sequence.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Sean Bailey swings out, losing both the top of Finals M4 and his chance at first place. Bailey ended the comp in second, the best performance of the U.S. men.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

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    Miho Nonaka latches the zone hold on Finals W1 during a slow and controlled flash of the problem.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Alma Bestvater threw herself at the multi-part dyno of Finals W2 over and over, swinging off each time, before sticking the move.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Kyra Condie prepares to launch herself at the top hold of Finals W2. She came up just short.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    Fanny Gibert sticks the top on Finals W2 with just seconds left on the clock.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    In the most exciting moment of the event, Alex Puccio latches a dyno with one hand, holding a big swing, before continuing to the top to flash Finals W4. Puccio needed to finish the problem to win the comp. She crushed it.

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    The men’s podium: Sean Bailey (2nd), Rei Sugimoto (1st), Tomoa Narasaki (3rd).

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    © IFSC/Eddie Fowke

    The women’s podium: Miho Nonaka (2nd), Alex Puccio (1st), Akiyo Noguchi (3rd).

    An unexpected early elimination also distinguished the women’s qualifying round, with American Margo Hayes missing the cut for the semifinals. While other competitors climbed well, including France’s Fanny Gibert, Great Britain’s Shauna Coxsey, and the power duo of Japan’s Akiyo Noguchi and Miho Nonaka, the biggest news was the glut of American women advancing to the semi-finals: Puccio, Michaela Kiersch, Sierra Blair-Coyle, Kyra Condie, and Maya Madere.

    The semi-finals kicked off on Saturday morning with a men’s slab bouldering that required full body extension over dual textured block volumes. The American Sean Bailey, winner of the 2018 Sports National Championships, captivated the audience with a flash. Carried away by the vocal enthusiasm of the crowd, he too showed off the second rock, another high-volume puzzle. it was a remarkable performance repeatedly referred to by commentators as the “ascension of the day”.

    many climbers from the japan men’s team made easy work of the 3rd steep dense boulder and the 4th balanced boulder. But in contrast to Bailey’s success in his home country, Coleman struggled through the semis and couldn’t get over any of the rocks, which is surprising after being so dominant just a few months earlier at the open nationals.

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    The women’s semifinals offered more American flashes, with puccio and condie controlling the crux of a barn door to secure the top of the first rock. but by the time puccio also showed off the second rock and pleased the crowd with his signature “puccio pull-up” in the upper cellar, it was clear that viewers were now part of the alex puccio experience, a true showcase of a athlete and their local fans connecting on the same frequency. Puccio also cleared the third boulder, confirming that the final would be a battle of America’s all-time greatest competitive boulderer, Puccio, against arguably the greatest international of all-time in Japan’s noguchi.

    • video: ifsc vail world cup 2018 highlights

    Without much time to rest, the men began their finals on Saturday afternoon in enthusiastic fashion: the first block featured a fingertip-hanging dyno start and progressed to a pocket finish. Bailey, along with Japan’s Tomoa Narasaki and Rei Sugimoto, showed off the powerful sequence, and the other men couldn’t get past it.

    bailey and sugimoto also threw the second rock and thus found themselves in a one-on-one rivalry for the tops; Their competitiveness became an intriguing subplot for an event that was already being praised by commentators for its excitement and skillful route-setting by Jamie Cassidy and the team.

    The third men’s bouldering was the most eye-catching and required the competitors to almost do the splits in a dihedral. only sugimoto and narasaki stretched for successful tops. Then, at a time when he had audience members on the edge of their seats, Bailey nearly flashed the last rock to snag a gold medal. Although he was unsuccessful, Bailey’s attempt had the crowd chanting his name and ultimately earned him a second place finish. sugimoto took first place, with narasaki in third place. coleman finished in 16.

    • related: generation 5.16: sean bailey’s profile

    The women’s final started with a slab, stylistically favoring France’s Gibert. But when Gibert wrestled in it and Puccio, known for her raw power more than her prowess on the slab, bested him, it further confirmed that Puccio was in the midst of a career-defining performance for her.

    The second women’s block kicked off with a swinging dynamometer, the most exciting move of the entire competition as the crowd cheered with every attempt. Puccio got the better of him too, but struggled on the third rock; the noguchi full body extension on top of the third rock should be used in gyms around the world to illustrate the importance of stretching and flexibility.

    The day’s back-and-forth submissions by puccio, nonaka, and noguchi set the stage for one last thrilling rock of technical catches with thumbs and toes in parallel horizontal volumes. tired and burned by the heat, nonaka could not advance beyond the cellar of the area. noguchi also fought admirably but was unable to secure a top.

    In a storybook ending for the day, Puccio started at the base of the rock to cheers, secured the grip of the finger jam zone, and finally launched himself to the top for a flash of victory; the last three moves of the sequence are highlighted -reel material. Puccio’s poignant win was the first for any American this World Cup season, and the second to no avail. nonaka finished second and noguchi third. Of the other American women in the top 20, Condie was ranked 5th, Blair-Coyle was ranked 14th, Madere was ranked 16th, and Kiersch was ranked 18th.

    [ed. for North American viewers, the full replay of the final is only available on the Olympic Channel.]

    the final event of the ifsc bouldering world cup will take place in munich, germany on august 17th. check out our 2018 climbing competition schedule for the full schedule.

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    results

    women

    1. alex puccio (usa)
    2. miho nonaka (jpn)
    3. akiyo noguchi (jpn)
    4. fanny gibert (fra)
    5. kyra condie (united states)
    6. alma bestvater (ger)

    men

    1. rei sugimoto (jpn)
    2. sean bailey (united states)
    3. tomoa narasaki (jpn)
    4. jernej kruder (slo)
    5. ryuichi murai (jpn)
    6. tomoaki takata (jpn)

    previous world cup 2018 events

    • review and photo gallery: ifsc world cup meiringen 2018—bouldering
    • review and photo gallery: ifsc world cup moscow 2018—bouldering and speed
    • summary and photo gallery: ifsc world cup chongqing 2018: bouldering and speed
    • summary and photo gallery: ifsc world cup tai’an 2018: bouldering and speed
    • summary and photo gallery photos: ifsc hachioji world cup 2018 — bouldering

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