By John Burgman
Stone Age Climbing Gym, Albuquerque, NM
October 18-19, 2019
USA Climbing kicked off this year’s National Cup Series with the Yank-n-Yard competition in October. The event featured some of the biggest names and most promising up-and-comers on the American comp scene, including Brooke Raboutou, Sienna Kopf, Quinn Mason, Norah Chi, Cloe Coscoy, and Natalia Grossman in the women’s division, and Ben Hanna, Jordan Fishman, Sam McQueen, Matt Fultz, Bobby Taft-Pittman, and Charles Barron in the men’s division.
Barron, in particular, had stellar rounds and ended up beating Taft-Pittman to claim the men’s victory; Hanna earned third place.
The standout in the women’s division was unquestionably Grossman, who topped every boulder in the finals to earn a perfect score of 100. Close Coscoy claimed second place.
An unfortunate anecdote of the event was a knee injury incurred by Raboutou, one of the competitors currently slated to climb in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Upon injury, Raboutou withdrew from the competition but still managed to earn third place. The American competition fan base surely hopes that she makes a quick recovery with the Olympics growing nearer every day.
BATTLE OF THE BAY
Dogpatch Boulders, San Francisco, CA
November 1-2, 2019
On the heels of the Yank-n-Yard, the National Cup Series continued with its second competition of the year, held in November. Many of the participants of the Yank-n-Yard also took part in the Battle of the Bay, including Matt Fultz, Ben Hanna, Cloe Coscoy, Norah Chi, and Natalia Grossman.
Hanna was victorious in the men’s division, followed closely by Joseph Diaz— less than 1 point separated the two men in the final scores. John Brock claimed the third place spot on the men’s podium.
The women’s podium once again saw Natalia Grossman claiming victory, with Maya Madere earning second place and Cloe Coscoy earning third place. Grossman has been competing on the national and international scene for years, but with two second consecutive National Cup event wins, she has to be considered one of the breakout American stars of 2019.
OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION EVENT
November 28 – December 1, 2019
The second official qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games concluded at the beginning of this month. At the competition, six men and six women earned provisional Olympic berths as a result of their standings in the scores (and in accordance with the countries’ athlete quotas). The various national federations of those competitors will have to accept the Olympic invitations before any Tokyo 2020 berths become official.
Nathaniel Coleman and Kyra Condie were the members of Team USA who placed highest at the event. Read more about their respective Olympic qualification performances here. Thus, Coleman and Condie join Brooke Raboutou as the Americans currently slated to compete at the Olympics in August, 2020.
High Point Climbing and Fitness, Memphis, TN
December 6-7, 2019
The final competition of USA Climbing’s National Cup series proved to be another showcase for Natalia Grossman. Grossman flashed every boulder in the final round of the women’s division. “This year’s national cup series could not have gone any better!,” she reflected on Instagram after her win. “I’m really pleased with my climbing, but more importantly with my mental game. Psych is high for next year!” Sarah Kate Ashton placed second in the women’s division, and Norah Chi placed third.
The defending American Combined Invitational champion, Zach Galla, earned first place in the men’s division, with newly-crowned Olympian Nathaniel Coleman placing second and Dylan Barks placing third.
John Burgman is the author of High Drama, a book that chronicles the history of American competition climbing. He is a Fulbright journalism grant recipient and a former magazine editor. He holds a master’s degree from New York University and bachelor’s degree from Miami University. In addition to writing, he coaches a youth bouldering team. Follow him on Twitter @John_Burgman and Instagram @jbclimbs. Read our interview Meet John Burgman, U.S. Comp Climbing’s Top Journalist.