On March 28 and 29, the 2008 Gravity Brawl had Isaac Newton turning in his grave. The season opener of the Mammut Bouldering Championships Pro Tour had 270+ participants who pushed the gravitational limits.
The new kid on the block, competition organizer NE2C (in their third season), is known for putting on bouldering events that go beyond sport and enter the realm of Entertainment. The organization’s latest show, the 2008 Gravity Brawl, held in the New Jersey Rock Gym dangled a big carrot (read: $5,000 cash purse) to provide extra motivation for the pro competitors.
On the topic of competitors, the Brawl brought many of the best climbers in the country to Fairfield, New Jersey. The roster included: Matt Bosley, Kevin Jorgeson, Vasya Vorotnikov, Tyler Haack and more for the men. Notables in the Women’s category included: Paige Claassen, Alex Johnson, Lizzy Asher, Charlotte Jouette, Kate McGinnis and many more. (Haack, Johnson, Claassen, Asher, and McGinnis are all members of the 2008 U.S. Adult Bouldering Team)
NE2C has long sought to create events that are as much about bringing climbing into the public eye as they are about pitting top climbers against each other. Aside from the over-the-top MC stylings of co-founder Jason Danforth, NE2C employs the computer-based TopScore scoring system, which simplifies the standings and displays them live, in real time, at the event and online for those who couldn’t make it to Jersey.
More on the entertainment front: the Gravity Brawl featured pro lighting, live disco, house, and rock beats provided by DJ Rick House, and amazing feats of plastic pulling strength and skill. The disco-themed event more closely resembled a Cirque du Soleil performance than an average comp. The spectacle drew over 450 spectators, who went wild as the climbers did their thing. Video footage: Matt Bosley on finals problem #3, Kevin Jorgeson on finals problem # 2, and Paige Claassen on finals problem # 3.
Despite all the eye candy, the climbing remained center stage—after all, it was a bouldering comp. Danforth commented on problems: “Balancy slabs, brutal campus moves, and downclimbing through foot-first traverses with 360-degree spins were par for the course. The problems were at the edge of possibility, allowing precious few highpoints and deafening climaxes.”
The pro qualifier dominated Friday evening – a taste of what would come Saturday at the finals. Saturday day brought the citizens division, accompanied by demos, contests, and the Mean Jonathon Dyno Comp.
Then, Saturday night, the big guns came out. “In the end, Paige Claassen beat out a tightly contested women’s field, while Matt Bosley obliterated the competition as the only male to send problems two and three,” Danforth recapped.
And don’t forget the after-party, because what is a comp without a party? The band TIGERCITY jammed out through the night, bringing the madness to a close.
To get the full Beta from The Gravity Brawl, including the behind the scenes Climb-It route setting blog, visit www.boulderingcomps.com. Official Video from Dr. Topo coming soon!
Photo by Tim Kemple
Photo by Dave Toth