McColl, Puccio Win ABS 12 Nationals

Canadian Sean McColl flashing Men's 3 on his way to an ABS Nationals win. Photo by Ben Fullerton

Canadian Sean McColl flashing Men

2/13/11 - Hundreds of spectators, extensive lighting and audio systems, a brand-spankin’-new climbing wall, and 15 finalists filled the warehouse in Boulder where the ABS 12 National Championships were held Saturday night—the first time ABS Nationals has not taken place in a climbing gym.

“In the past, we have not had enough room for the spectators, parents, grandparents, and siblings to watch their favorite athlete climb,” said Keith Ferguson, CEO of USA Climbing. “Our goal was to create a venue built for one purpose: hosting the best possible competition experience.”

And an experience it was, as Alex Puccio, Angie Payne, Alex Johnson, Francesca Metcalf, Tiffany Hensley, Sasha DiGiulian, and Kasia Pietras lined up for women’s finals alongside Sean McColl (from Canada), Austin Geiman, Kyle Own, Ian Dory, Zach Lerner, Nic Sherman, and Matty Hong on the men’s side. (Daniel Woods, king of ABS Nationals, shockingly didn’t make finals. He did stay for the event, though, and seemed in great spirits.)

The first of the women's problems managed to stump Pietras, DiGiulian, Hensley, Johnson, and Payne, but both Metcalf and Puccio cruised through and flashed it. Spirits were high for the men as they cruised the lower section of Men’s 1 (almost every competitor used a figure four to pull the roof), but no one managed to finish.

Alex Puccio trying to figure out Women's 2. Photo by Ben Fullerton

Alex Puccio trying to figure out Women

Women’s 2 was set up on a slab, including a super-balancey mantle mantel and poor grips. DiGiulian was the only woman to finish the problem. “I was just lucky,” DiGiulian said to her incredulous onlookers. Men’s 2 proved more successful, as Johnson flashed it, and Lerner, Dory, Owen, and Geiman finished it. Others were close, but the sloping topout and dynamic moves proved hard to stick.

The women’s energy picked back up on problem 3. Payne, Metcalf, and Johnson were able to stick the bonus (or halfway) hold first try, and Johnson was painfully close to finishing but ran out of time. In total champion style, Puccio stepped up and crushed the final problem, securing her win and retaining her ABS crown. “It’s a great feeling to win,” Puccio said. “The problems were amazing, and the last problem was really fun, really cool.”

Men’s 3 gave the most trouble to the guys, as most couldn’t manage to stick the bonus hold. Dory and Owen fell several times going to the second-to-last. McColl, the last competitor of the night, might have been riding Puccio’s high, as he walked up and flashed the problem effortlessly.

Final Women's Results:

  1. Alex Puccio

  2. Francesca Metcalf

  3. Sasha DiGiulian

  4. Alex Johnson

  5. Angie Payne

  6. Tiffany Hensley

  7. Kasia Pietras

Men's Results:

  1. Sean McColl

  2. Alex Johnson

  3. Kyle Owen

  4. Ian Dory

  5. Austin Geiman

  6. Zach Lerner

  7. Matty Hong

  8. Nic Sherman

See dozens of photos by Caroline Treadway here.

Visit to see the running order going into semi finals and finals.