8/3/13 - Women's favorite Sasha DiGiulian and dark horse Jimmy Webb took first place in the deep water soloing competition held in Park City, Utah, on Friday, August 2.
The event is part of the Psicobloc Master Series, which was brought to the U.S. by Chris Sharma (he won a similar competition in Bilbao, Spain, in 2010). Despite some logistical hiccups due to a shortened planning and organizing period, the event was a huge success thanks to the unique tournament-style format, huge falls, and lively energy from the crowd.
Names like DiGiulian, Webb, Sharma, Dave Graham, Emily Harrington, Daniel Woods, Angie Payne, Alex Johnson, and Tommy Caldwell (read the full athlete list
) attracted a massive crowd of spectators to Olympic Park, with different levels of tickets available that included better seating, food and drink, and access to the athletes.
With a few qualifying rounds held in the days prior, finals pitted the highest-seeded climber against the lowest-seeded climber. Second-highest was against second-lowest, and so on. Competitors climbed the exact same route—5.13c for the women, 5.14b for the men—side-by-side. Whoever reached and controlled the highest hold between the two advanced to the next round. In the case of a tie, meaning both climbers fell in the same spot or topped out, the person who did it fastest would advance.
Women went first, with DiGiulian easily topping out the wall in the first round and choosing to take the spectacular and crowd-pleasing leap from the top. She took a strategic approach throughout the comp by climbing high quickly and when her competitor fell, she dropped off intentionally. This proved to be smart as there was very little rest time, and she had to climb the route every round to advance. Delaney Miller placed second after falling a little more than halfway up the route in the final round against DiGiulian. Miller topped out in two rounds.
After a quick reset by the setters, who included Spanish strongman Dani Andrada, the men were up. Chris Sharma floated to the top right off the bat, which was the only topout of the night thanks to a difficult dyno as the last move. Many of the men made it there only to slap the top and immediately take a swim. Battling chilly temps and wet shoes and holds made the comp challenging for everyone, especially in the later rounds. In the second round, Sharma was up against youngster Matty Hong, who performed well throughout the event. Sharma fell on the dyno through the roof, but Hong stuck the move and progressed. (Click
for a quick video.) Speculation was that Sharma took the fall intentionally—he was the event organizer, after all—but it definitely added an exciting surprise for everyone there.
Men's finals included Woods and Webb; both of them fell at the roof, but Webb made it slightly higher to take the victory. First place winners took home $5,000, and second place got $3,000—definitely one of the largest cash prizes in U.S. comp climbing history.
Congrats to all the competitors, and we can't wait to see the next Psicobloc comp!