Photo Gallery and Results: USA Climbing 2018 Sport Nationals
By Andrea Laue
Sean Bailey reclaimed his title and Claire Buhrfeind earned her first win at the 2018 USA Climbing (USAC) Sport National Championships held at the new Mesa Rim gym in Reno, Nevada. Both defending champions, Ashima Shiraishi and Kai Lightner, were sidelined with injuries, opening the doors in the stacked fields. Drew Ruana and Noah Ridge had finished on the podium at past Nationals, and Solomon Barth and Josh Levin podiumed at Collegiate Nationals events last season. On the women’s side, former champions Delaney Miller and Margo Hayes made Finals, as did Brooke Raboutou and Michaela Kiersch, both of whom had finished on the podium at past Sport Nationals. In addition, Alex Puccio and Nathaniel Coleman, reigning USAC Bouldering Champions, both made Finals in Sport this year.
USAC Sport Nationals is composed of three rounds, with twenty climbers advancing to Semifinals and eight advancing to Finals. Competitors climb two routes in Qualifiers and one route in each Semifinals and Finals. Finals is an onsight format with 5-minute route previews. Climbers get a single attempt, and points are awarded for each hold reached. Ties are settled by Semifinals performance, a rule which came into play in the women’s division this year.
Entering Finals in sixth place, Brooke Raboutou topped the women’s Finals route first. High on the wall, the most challenging sequence involved a big move to a cylindrical sloper followed by a thuggy mantle to the finish hold. In the end, five women topped the route, with Buhrfeind’s lead in Semifinals giving her the win.
A traverse through sparse crimps two-thirds of the way up the route separated the men, with nobody topping the route. Sean Bailey and Drew Ruana fell on the same move, a drop knee to a big reach above the traverse, but Bailey briefly held the hold that lay just beyond Ruana’s reach. Lower down, a series of volumes prompted athletic moves and entertaining sequences from the men, several of whom capitalized on the opportunity to entertain the crowd.