This past weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, USA Climbing held the 16th ABS National Championships for bouldering. Louder Than 11 provided live coverage on the web. You can click here to see the full coverage of each round. New England was well represented throughout with numerous competitors for both the men and women, Pete Ward as one of the live commentators, and Bryan Rafferty of Back Mattress Media as the event MC.
The live broadcast was really well done with great coverage of an exciting comp (they even had climbing commercials!). On the women's side, it was clearly the Alex Puccio show. Alex is on a completely different level than all the other U.S. women. It will be interesting to see how Alex performs on the World Cup circuit as she seems to be the best U.S. hope for World Cup podium finishes on either side. Alex dominated the women's finals with tops on all four problems with the exclamation point being the unneeded and only flash of Women's #4 (Alex had already wrapped up first after the first 3 problems). This was Alex's ninth national championship, a mark that should stand for years to come. Rounding out the podium were long-time competitors and clear crowd favorites Alex Johnson and Angie Payne. Youth may be the future of the ABS comps, but on Saturday night it was one last hurrah for the old guard.
On the men's side, things were much less clear. Daniel Woods had not been focusing on indoor climbing (he recently sent a new V16 in Bishop) and the semi-finals showed Daniel to be vulnerable in his quest for his ninth national championship. For the locals, Josh Larson provided a cheering interest and did not disappoint. For the overall comp, Mohammad Mahmodabadi took advantage of a new scoring system by being the only man to top out on problem #3 giving him the score he needed to win the overall comp. Being an Iranian national, Mohammad was not eligible for the U.S. national championship. Therefore, with his 2nd place overall, Daniel Woods was able to win his ninth national championship. Michael O'Rourke was clearly the most powerful of all the male finalists but the technical nature of some of the problems cost him and he ended up third. Josh Larson was the crowd favorite with all out efforts on all 4 problems and a near top on the 4th problem (he had one hand on the finishing hold but could not match) that might have won the day for him. Being third American, Josh should be eligible to compete in the World Cup events.