Photo Gallery: USA Climbing 2018 Bouldering Nationals
By Andrea Laue
Alex Puccio confirmed her dynasty and Nathaniel Coleman perhaps started his own on Saturday night in downtown Salt Lake City. A large crowd gathered at the Salt Palace and thousands more watched online as 12 competitors, 6 of each gender, competed in Finals for the title of USA Climbing Open Bouldering National Champion. The culmination of the National Cup Series, the weekend of competition also offered a look at several potential 2020 Olympians.
Following strong showings in the National Cup series, Matt Fultz and Carlo Traversi entered Finals in first and sixth place respectively. Drew Ruana and Zach Galla, both teenagers, made their first appearances in Open Finals. Just missing the podium in 2017, Sean Bailey returned to Finals in 2018, and defending champion Nathaniel Coleman lurked in fifth place entering the round.
The women’s Finals field was stacked. Margo Hayes, recently famous for becoming the first woman to climb 5.15, entered in sixth place. Ashima Shiraishi and Brooke Raboutou, World Champion and Pan American Champion respectively, were just starting school when Alex Puccio won her first national championship. Reigning Junior World Champion Claire Buhrfeind and Meagan Martin of American Ninja fame rounded out the field.
Nathaniel Coleman flashed all four problems on his way to the title, but that doesn’t mean the competition wasn’t close. In the end, the podium finishers on the men’s side were separated by attempts, with Sean Bailey taking 4 more attempts than Coleman. On the women’s side, Ashima Shiraishi or Brooke Raboutou could have stolen the crown from Puccio with a top on the final problem. In the end, both defending champions stood atop the podium again.