Tyler Landman on Men’s Final #4 with a packed Front Climbing ClubPhoto by Dan Dewell
On August 11, some of the strongest climbers in the United States congregated in Salt Lake City at The Front Climbing Club, for SENDFEST. This was the second annual competition held during the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow (an event attended by many of the country’s top sponsored athletes). There were also some surprise darkhorse climbers, like Brian Kim, Tyler Haack, Patrick Luther, and Tyler Davis; familiar faces, like Chris Sharma, Daniel Woods, and Obe Carrion — yes, he’s out of retirement; and the young guns destined to make Hot Flashes news, Paul Robinson, Jon Cardwell, and Tyler Landman (the U.K. phenom who’s been tearing up Colorado this summer). Taking 20 topnotch men and women climbers from isolation and throwing them into the American colosseum of bouldering competition for a high-energy, no-holds-barred battle royal made for an inspiring experience. Now, let’s get into the meat of the comp:
The Format:Four problems with five minutes to make unlimited attempts on each problem (attempts recorded for tie-breakers). Climbers receive a five minute rest in between each problem, so they could potentially earn as much as nine minutes of rest if they flash. Finishing a problem earned 1,000 points, with point values varying based on each climber’s control of the last hold reached, with a 100-point flash bonus. No previews. Warm-up in isolation. What qualifies as control? “Holding for three seconds or more, or on the hold well-enough to make progressive movement towards the next hold,” says Chris Danielson, head route-setter for SENDFEST.
Qualifiers:During Qualifiers, the Women dealt with more of a bottleneck than the men. Most had little trouble with problem #1 and #3. But a tall, crimpy #2 and a heinously slopey #4 allowed only the strongest few to pass.
1st Alex Johnson 4295.00 1st Angie Payne 4295.00 3rd Alex Puccio 3936.36 4th Ally Dorey 3897.07 5th Cicada Jenerik 3856.67 6th Alexandra Balakiyero 3845.45 7th Amy Cockerham 3740.45 8th Sydney McNair 3705.05 9th Emily Harrington 3614.14 10th Natasha Barnes 3609.14 10th Portia Menlove 3609.14 11th Melissa LaCasse 3599.14 13th Kate Reese 3523.23 13th Lani Adamson 3523.23 15th Kasia Pietras 3513.23 16th Tori Maisey 3402.12 17th Jody Hansen 3393.03 17th Cheryl Pirozzi 3286.01 19th Noella Nykyforuk 3210.10 20th Nadya Vorotnikov 3184.90
Ethan Pringle climbing strong on Men’s #3Photo by Dan Dewell
Fifty men from around the nation took part in the qualifying rounds, working out problems varying in style from blind dynos at bad sloper-crimps to super-technical stand-up reaches to problems that only the strongest pinchers could grip. Qualifiers weeded out the strong from the not-as-strong; but nobody knew who made the cut until the list hit the wall. “Qualifiers could’ve gone to anyone in the top five to ten — that's how strong the field was,” says Danielson. Here’s how the men finished after qualifiers:
1st Matt Bosley 4060.00 2nd Chris Sharma 3950.00 3rd Ethan Pringle 3625.56 4th Paul Robinson 3509.44 5th Daniel Woods 3467.78 6th Tyler Landman 3410.56 7th Obe Carrion 3352.78 8th Tyler Haack 3144.44 9th David Marquess 3142.78 10th Chris Lindner 3139.44 11th Rob D'Anastasio 3134.44 11th Steven Jeffery 3134.44 13th Tyler Davis 3124.44 14th Vasya Vorotnikov 3099.44 15th Mark Hobson 3086.11 16th Patrick Luther 3034.44 17th B.J. Tilden 3014.44 17th Brian Kim 3014.44 19th Jon Cardwell 2999.44 20th Mike Auldridge 2974.44
Portia Menlove reaching through on Women’s Final #2Photo by Dan Dewell
Finals:Spurred on by DJ Underground Chuck, the packed Front cheered on finals competitors as they threw themselves at the course-setters’ challenging problems. The women’s finals were another testament to some spot-on route-setting by USAC staff: entertaining movement and a great blend of styles. In the end, the audience had no clue who finished first.
Women’s #1 served as a strong warm up for the field of 20 women who made it past Qualifiers. Finals #2, at V5, included big moves and balancey reach-throughs. Number three (V8) worked around a corner into a hard rock-over move on a sloper that spat women to the mat. Angie Payne was the only competitor to establish over the sloper and work into the bulge’s crimp undercling and on to the finishing crimp sequence. This proved to be the clincher for the Boulder climber, in the end. Women’s #4, the longest problem, utilized a steep section of wall, by traversing into a burly undercling match to the lip, where only a handful of climbers were able to pass. This problem was graded V9. Alex Johnson and Alex Puccio – known for their thuggish, dynamic climbing in the comp circuit — were the only women to complete #4. They finished second and third respectively, based on their performance in the qualifiers. Here’s the wrap:
1 Angie Payne 4069.23 2 Alex Johnson 3831.36 3 Alex Puccio 3831.36 4 Cicada Jenerik 3570.63 5 Portia Menlove 3418.78 6 Kate Reese 3409.79 7 Natasha Barnes 3306.89 8 Alexandra Balakiyero 3283.92 9 Cheryl Pirozzi 3124.06 10 Ally Dorey 3115.07 11 Sydney McNair 3111.08 12 Tori Maisey 3048.15 13 Emily Harrington 3039.16 14 Melissa LaCasse 2948.25 15 Noella Nykyforuk 2871.33 16 Nadya Vorotnikov 2871.33 17 Kasia Pietras 2871.33 18 Lani Adamson 2847.24 19 Amy Cockerham 2778.86 20 Jody Hansen 2697.95
2006 Sendfest Gallery
Ethan Pringle on the nasty crimp, Men’s #4Photo by Dan Dewell
For the men, problem #1 (V7/8), a technical and balancey problem ending in a dyno, saw many flashes. Problem #2, however, thwarted most competitors. Although several sent the line, at V9/10, this finals problem involved big moves to sloping edges (two pad or more) — big opposition movement, very barn-doory. This problem proved to be the clincher for Ethan Pringle; he was the only climber to flash it. Finals #3, arguably the most aesthetic problem of the four, registered at about V10/11 on a steep bulge ending at more than 15 feet. Most competitors reached only the halfway point, falling on a move to a yellow sloper off of a barn-dooring match, but Pringle and Matt Bosley owned the squeezing power needed to get farthest. (Bosley was the only competitor to send this finals problem.) Men’s #4 climbed out a super-steep section into a stalactite guarding an eight-foot headwall. This proved to be another stopper, registering at around V12. Nobody got past the heinous crimp off the stalactite, although many found a way to it. In the end, Pringle took first, saved by a flash of #2 and his high point on #3. No bottlenecking. Tight finish.
1 Ethan Pringle 3785.00 2 Matt Bosley 3665.00 3 Chris Sharma 3495.00 4 Daniel Woods 3480.00 5 Tyler Landman 3395.00 6 Paul Robinson 3030.00 7 Obe Carrion 2985.00 8 David Marquess 2940.00 9 Mark Hobson 2670.00 10 Rob D'Anastasio 2665.00 11 Tyler Davis 2615.00 12 Tyler Haack 2560.00 13 Vasya Vorotnikov 2445.00 14 Brian Kim 2440.00 15 Mike Auldridge 2390.00 16 Jon Cardwell 2380.00 17 Chris Lindner 2360.00 18 B.J. Tilden 2320.00 19 Steven Jeffery 2170.00 20 Patrick Luther 1890.00
Alex Johnson sending Women’s Final #4Photo by Dan Dewell
Climbing sat down with head route-setter Chris Danielson after the comp to see what he had to say...
about the goal of route-setting:“The goal is to divide the field, for competitors to have fun, and in the end to get the best climbers to the top, and we were pretty close to doing that.”
about Qualifiers: “Qualifiers could’ve gone to anyone in the top five-to-ten ... that’s how strong the field was. But the goal is to have the problems be climbable for climber #40, but also divide the top field very well, so by the time you get to problem four, only a few can do it.”
about Finals problems:“Once you get halfway through the problems, each move is progressively and noticeably harder — that's important.”
about who surprised him at the comp:“Seeing Obe — having not competed for a while — come out and climb as well as he did and be psyched was awesome. Seeing him finish in the top ten really impressed me, for being out of the game for a few years. It was also awesome to see Cicade [Jenerik] climb so well in the women’s finals. I think she could be a serious contender for years to come.”
about the next big comp:“Keep an eye out for ABS regionals on January 13 and 20 around the country.”
2006 Sendfest Gallery