Sport Climbing at the Olympics Guide

Sport climbing is debuting in the Olympics this year – here's what you need to know for an educated viewing experience. I've tried to include most of the relevant lingo you may hear from commentators.

Basics of Climbing

Sport climbing is the competitive version of rock climbing. If you google sport climbing, you may also find another definition – the two main types of outdoor climbing are called 'sport' and 'trad' and the difference between the two is whether the fall protection is permanent (sport) or temporary (trad).

There are three disciplines in competitive sport climbing: lead, speed, and bouldering. In all three disciplines, route setters build a 'route' or a 'problem' onto a wall using artificial holds – large (or sometimes very, very small) formed plastic pieces that are screwed into the wall. The pieces usually have a bit of a texture to them for friction, though you may hear commentators discussing 'dual-texture holds' – these holds have both slick and textured sections, so that the hold can only be used in a certain way.

Lead, Speed, and Bouldering

Speed is the simplest – climb a 15 meter route as fast as possible. This route is identical in every competition, down to the exact location and angle of every hold, and even the angle of the wall. The competition is usually held in a head-to-head format, in a bracket-style, single-elimination event. Climbers begin with their foot on a pressure pad that automatically senses false starts. If a false start happens, both climbers reset positions and try again. If a second false start happens, the offender is disqualified and the other climber advances. The route ends at a pressure pad at the top of the wall, which climbers must slap to complete the route. In speed climbing, climbers are protected from falls by an auto-belay system.

The current men's world record in speed climbing is 5.2 seconds, set just earlier this year. The world record was actually broken twice that day, by two different people. This video is of the second-fastest time ever recorded in speed climbing.

Lead is the next easiest to explain. A route the competitors have never seen before is set on a 15 meter wall, and climbers must try to reach the top. Before the competition begins, the climbers are given a viewing period to preview the route from the ground, but they are not allowed to try to climb the route in advance. During competition, climbers try the route one by one, while the rest of the climbers wait in the isolation zone. Climbers have 6 minutes to advance up the wall as far as they can. Each hold counts as a point, and the climber with the highest number of points wins. Ties go to count back to previous rounds. The goal is to get to the top of the route and clip the chains, signaling that the climber has completed the route – this is called a 'top.' If they don't clip the chains, their score is the value of the final hold. The route setters try to set the route so that there will be separation between the climbers – their preference is that exactly one climber gets a top (it is considered a bit disappointing if no one tops a route or if a lot of people fall off at exactly the same spot). You will frequently see climbers pausing on the wall for rests. Lead climbing is extremely physical, and climbers will get tired, or get 'pumped.' Rests allow them to recover and continue up the wall.

There are three rules for lead climbing that may affect the final outcome. #1: climbers have to clip every quickdraw (fall protection device placed on the wall that climbers clip their rope in to – there is also a human belayer at the bottom of the wall for fall protection). The quickdraws are considered part of the route and the route setters determine the hold that they think is the last possible position climbers could clip the quickdraw from. If a climber skips a quickdraw, that position is their final score. #2: climbers are not allowed to use the bolts that the quickdraws are attached to. This rule infamously (and controversially) bit Adam Ondra in the ass recently. Judges determined that Ondra stepped on a bolt during climbing, and his score was downgraded to the point that he was at when he broke the rule. This year's World Cup competitions have seen protection added over the top of the bolts so that climbers would be unable to use them, as the surface is very slick and climbers cannot stand on them. The final rule that may affect the outcome is the + system. If a climber uses a hold to advance, but cannot make it to the next hold, they get a + added to their score (e.g. 38+). In order to get that +, both their hand and their center of mass have to progress upwards towards the next hold (they can't just take a swipe at the next hold as they fall and get the +).

Here are some highlights from a World Cup competition last summer that show how difficult lead climbing can be – a particular highlight is the inversion required on the women's route. You'll also see some 'campusing,' when a climber's legs/feet aren't on the wall, and they are hanging solely from their hands. Many of the climbers shown in these highlights will be competing in the Olympics this year.

The final discipline is bouldering. In bouldering, the wall is very short – usually around 15 feet/5 meters. A number of 'boulder problems' are set, and the climbers have a set amount of time to top each one. Both the time and the number of problems varies depending on which round you're in during a competition. The climbers do not get to see the routes before they try to climb them and they are held in the isolation zone between problems. There are two points of interest in a bouldering route – the 'zone' and the 'top.' The zone hold is usually approximately halfway through a boulder problem – though it may come just a couple of holds in or could be the last hold before the top. Climbers get credit for reaching the zone if they control the zone hold with one hand. For the top, the hold must be controlled with both hands to count – and sometimes that second hand can be the hardest part of the whole problem. The climber with the highest number of tops wins. If climbers are tied on tops, the number of zones is the tie breaker. (So, you may see or hear a score of "3 tops, 4 zones" for example.) The next tie breaker after that is attempts to top, which, as it sounds, is the number of tries it took to get all the tops achieved. Unlike lead climbing, climbers can attempt a boulder problem again if they fall off. The ideal situation for a climber is a 'flash' – which means they got the top in one attempt. If there are four boulder problems and they flash every one, they'll have a score of 4 tops, 4 zones (probably – sometimes climbers can skip the zone hold, though it's rare), and 4 attempts to top. Finally, attempts to zone can be used as a final tiebreaker, though I've never seen anything come down to this.

Bouldering is probably the flashiest of the three disciplines. Modern competitive bouldering styles include a lot of 'dynos' (large jump moves) or 'coordination moves' – where a climber's hands and feet need to be doing something simultaneously in order to get to the next hold(s). During bouldering competitions, there is usually at least one 'slab' problem set per round, which involves lots of tricky, delicate balancing. You will see a lot of falls during bouldering, as there is no fall protection used due to the (relatively) low height of the wall.

This video is highlights of a competition from 2019, so it's a little older, but I wanted to include this one because this competition was decided by a 'crack' problem – Adam Ondra was the only person in the competition who successfully climbed this problem. (This crack problem is shown as his last highlight.) Crack problems have started to crop up a lot more in World Cup competitions, and it's mildly controversial as crack climbing is usually not considered a style of climbing that lends itself well to indoor/gym climbing. There is a lot of speculation about whether a crack problem will show up in the Olympics and if teams have been training crack climbing well enough (the Japanese team in particular seems to struggle with crack climbing).

The Combined Format

Unfortunately for climbing enthusiasts, the IOC decided that sport climbing would only be allowed one medal event at the Games. The IFSC invented the 'combined' format just for the Olympics, to show off all three disciplines. Climbers will compete in all three disciplines and be ranked against each other. Their combined rankings will then be multiplied together, and the person with the lowest score will win. For example, during the 2019 World Championships, Janja Garnbret took 6th in speed, 2nd in bouldering, and 1st in lead for a combined score of 6x2x1 = 12 to win.

The good news is, the 2024 Olympics will see speed climbing as a separate discipline, with a second medal handed out for a combined lead and bouldering event. There are hopes that each discipline will have its own medal by the 2028 Games.

Who to Watch

40 athletes have qualified to climb at the Olympics this year. However, because speed is such a specialized format compared to lead and bouldering, many of the speed specialists did not qualify for the combined format, and most of the competitors are lead and bouldering specialists.

On the men's side, the man who is widely considered to be the best climber in the world, Adam Ondra of the Czech Republic, is competing, though due to his poor historical performance in speed climbing, he is not necessarily the favorite to win. (The first Olympic qualifying event was the 2019 World Championship, where Ondra shockingly failed to qualify.) Other names to watch out for are:
• Tomoa Narasaki of Japan, who won the 2019 World Championship and is therefore the likely favorite
• Jakob Schubert of Austria
• Alex Megos of Germany, the only person who has climbed a 9c other than Ondra – though Megos isn't as strong at competition climbing as outdoors
• Sean McColl of Canada
• Jan Hojer of Germany
• Alberto Gines Lopez of Spain, a young up-and-comer

Janja Garnbret of Slovenia is far and away the favorite on the women's side. At the World Championships in 2019, she took gold in Lead, Bouldering, and the Combined. Also in 2019, Janja won all 6 Bouldering World Cup events, sweeping the season. Some of the women who are probably only competing for silver include:
• Akiyo Noguchi of Japan, who is retiring from competition following the Games
• Miho Nonaka, also of Japan, who is primarily a lead/bouldering climber, but took home a medal in speed climbing during this World Cup season and might be a dark horse contender for gold
• Petra Klingler of Switzerland
• Brooke Raboutou of the US, who is in very good form this season
• Jessie Pilz of Austria

The US is one of only 3 teams to max out with 4 climbers. (The other teams are France and Japan – the Japanese climbing team is insanely deep.) The US climbers are as follows:
• Nathaniel Coleman of Utah, a bouldering specialist
• Colin Duffy of Colorado, the youngest climber to qualify (which is very impressive, as elite male climbers tend to be older – late 20s to early 30s. Elite female climbers tend to be younger)
• Brooke Raboutou of Colorado, who is probably the most likely to medal of the Americans
• Kyra Condie of Minnesota, who has had a spinal fusion for scoliosis

How to Watch

All times are Pacific Time Zone – I'm in PST and the NBC Olympics website doesn't want to show me whether the broadcasts are simulcast or staggered 

Men's Quals – 8/3 at 7:30 AM on USA (live at 1 AM)
Women's Quals – 8/4 at 7 AM on USA (live at 1 AM)
Men's Final – 8/5 at 1:45 PM on USA (live at 1:30 AM)
Women's Final – 8/6 at 2 PM on USA (live at 1:30 AM)

Where Can I Find More?

For general climbing news, follow Climbing Daily

The IFSC streams every World Cup event live, and full replays are available on their YouTube

Here are the links to the combined finals from the World Championships in 2019
Women's Final
Men's Final

The video for 'Silence,' the first-ever 9c climbed in the world, can be found here. Only two routes graded 9c have been climbed to date. It's a hell of a watch

Check out the movie Free Solo, which you can find on Disney+ or rent from other streaming sites.

What if I Want to Try?

Find a gym local to you at this link (not every climbing gym is listed – you can check google as well)

Most gyms have rental equipment (shoes, harnesses, chalk – though with COVID many gyms aren't renting chalk bags anymore). For bouldering, all you need is a pair of shoes and maybe some chalk. Top rope requires a harness and either an autobelay system or a partner and belay training. Lead climbing requires additional training, both for how to climb safely and how to lead belay. Your gym will probably offer classes.

Now – go out and crush it!

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DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

Neat!

Dude! This is incredibly detailed and well put together, thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this. I'm an avid (outdoor) climber and even I learned a bunch reading through here.

Also: Amazing that there is another climber on TKP! Where are you located? I wonder if there are enough of us to get a summer/fall climbing thread going around here?

I'm obsessed with comp climbing, I can't help it

I'm in Eastern Washington, with a place near Bend OR (though I haven't yet made it to Smith Rock). I'm actually currently recovering from a sprained ankle from falling off a wall at the bouldering gym 😅

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Thanks Frank!

The " the wall is very short – usually around 15 feet" made me feel like less of a man. Me and my wife went to the bouldering gym in Louisville a couple years ago and I smoked one route to about that height and turned around one handed showboating. Well, my hand slipped and straight down I went. Thankfully no one was beneath me and I landed as under control as possible. Still scared the shit out of me lol

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

I still downclimb as much as I can, even though I know I can safely land from the top in a controlled exit. Uncontrolled falls are much worse - I was only about 18" off the ground and landed wrong after slipping off a hold. Couldn't walk for 3 months. Still can't go down stairs properly.

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Thanks Frank!

I'm actually recovering from an ankle sprain myself! Planned a big trip into the Winds with a buddy, took off work. We were trying for a first free ascent of an awesome wall (has a damn Beckey route on it)! Aaaand 30 min after setting up camp I sprained my ankle trying to get a fly out of a tree while fishing. Unbelievable.

I had to sit around waiting for 2 days before we could get horses back there to carry me and the gear out, not my greatest time. But, the Winds are beautiful and the ankle could have been much worse, so I really shouldn't be complaining.

You get used to the height thing. I always tell people that I'm still scared of heights even after climbing for 11 years. I just try not to think about it hah.

I'm not scared of heights at all, but that certainly took my breath away lol just an idiot thing to do (let this be a lesson to the children out there...don't get cocky)

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

I love this community. I'll be following along man. I haven't climbed in my life, but I enjoy learning new stuff.

Shout out to frostysdad for getting me into dog sledding. This will be a new one and I appreciate it.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

I love watching climbing, I think it's fun as fuck. Hope you're able to catch some and that you enjoy it too 🙂

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Thanks Frank!

Wow what a great writeup!

Climbing is an amazing sport. Got totally in to it after some gym time at Wasena in Roanoke and then some 5.7-5.9 sport climbs at Clear Creek west of Denver with my buds son. Hanging 200' above the creek on a near vertical rock face... What a physical, tactical, mentally challenging sport. A total rush. Looking to get a trip to New River Gorge soon.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

The New is the damn best! Go do 'Flight of the Gumbie' out at Kaymoor, phenomenal 5.9

Thanks!!

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

Speed climbing is an entirely different sort of sport. Optimizing a specific set of movements is actually just nothing like either sport or bouldering.

I'd argue that sport and bouldering shouldn't be judged together as they generally require different types of athletes except for the absolute freaks...I think they are at least as different as butterfly and freestyle, and likely more different than 100m and 200m runs.

When I've felt very strong for boulders, I would have been stonewalled by any lead climb over 30-40m, and when I felt strong on ropes I was probably only reliably a v4 climber. Obviously there are people who are much better than me at both, but I have to imagine that in general they shouldn't be together at the elite level.

And again, speed climbing isn't even the same sport. I've never even heard of a professional climber who speed climbs except professional speed climbers (if that is even a thing). For instance, your sentence " In all three disciplines, route setters build a 'route' or a 'problem' onto a wall using artificial holds," is only sort of true for speed climbing. There just is a single speed climbing route. There are instructions to put it up wherever. No one sets new routes for speed climbing. Technically they still put a route onto a wall, but it isn't setting the same way the other two have setting. The fact that it is even grouped with the other 2 irks me.

/rant

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Thanks Frank!

I agree that it's a bummer not to see the best practitioners of each discipline, but it's crazy that climbing is even in the Olympics! It is really cool to see our sport on the biggest stage, I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy it. And get ready to answer lots of silly questions like it's Free Solo release week all over again.

A much healthier attitude to be sure.

Oh, we're absolutely seeing the best of lead and bouldering, but not speed. I'd argue that about the only person missing is Kokoro Fujii, and that's due to team size limits. Then again if there weren't team size limits, the field would probably be about half Japanese, so...

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Thanks Frank!

That's fair, I don't follow comp climbing enough to know, good to hear most of the best have made it.

Dawn Wall was better.

If anybody here ever wants to climb at Cliff Hangers in Mooresville, please let me know and we can meet up. We have a family membership with guest passes so if it's just one or two people we can get you in and get some rental gear if you need it for free. Whether you just want to try it for the first time, or you've climbed forever and want to make a trip to one of the best and most comprehensive climbing facilities on the east coast, we''ll climb with whoever, especially if you're a Hokie. We are really lucky to have a facility of that caliber here.

Now having said that, I am nowhere near an experienced climber. My wife (VT Music `10) is actually the climber of the family, but in November she injured her wrist while climbing and had to take 8 months off for surgery and recovery. So I took about 8 months off too. She's starting over from scratch with a weak wrist and I'm just starting over. But we love it, and the climbing community is really helpful and welcoming. And we're always willing to meet up with Hokies.

Cliff Hangers Mooresville

This thread is what makes the TKP what it is... members/users dedicating time and knowledge to informing others. I do not follow or participate in sport climbing but applaud your ability and tenacity in educating others on the sport. Thank you!

Edit. Also, this level of detailed information would be close to impossible to find for the casual observer.

I have absolutely no idea who's going to be commentating for the US market, but I doubt it's going to be Matt Groom, who is the only quality commentator IMO. He's really good at making it understandable for the general public. Everyone else I've heard commentating has been super disappointing.

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Thanks Frank!

Climbing Daily has announced they're going to do a full week of Olympics coverage, starting with an athlete overview on Monday and reactions & analysis starting Tuesday.

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Thanks Frank!

Climbing Daily agrees with me that Adam Ondra, Tomoa Narasaki, Jakob Schubert, and Alex Megos are favorites on the men's side, with Janja Granbret, Miho Nonaka, Akiyo Noguchi, and Brooke Raboutou being favorites for the women. *toot toot*

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Thanks Frank!

I'm hoping that the commentary team is better for the actual event (in contrast to the qualifying). These guys did their best, but it would be nice for the commentators to at least be able to speak to technique.

*starts a petition to get NBC to pay whatever it costs to get Matt Groom commentating for Paris*

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Thanks Frank!

Alex Honnold had said on his podcast that he was going to do the commentary, but I don't know what happened. Really, anyone who knows the difference between a hand jam and a crimp would be better than this.

This was hilarious. I'm a fan of rave horse, as well.

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Thanks Frank!

I'm watching the abbreviated replay now (which is terrible, I'm definitely going to watch the full replay here later). I looked up the results of quals - VERY interesting to say the least. I can't wait to watch the full replay and provide some commentary for y'all. In the meantime, here's a summary:

  • Both Mawem brothers qualified for finals. One of them (I can't ever remember who) is a speed specialist and the other isn't - but it looks like they did a LOT of training together over the last year and coached each other into a good place for this comp. I'm not sure if they intentionally played it close to their chest or what, because I haven't seen either of them in the World Cup this year (though to be frank, I usually only watch finals of lead/bouldering.)
  • Tomoa Narasaki qualified in second place, absolutely crushing it in speed and bouldering. I'm interested to see what happened with him in lead.
  • Both Colin Duffy and Nathaniel Coleman of the US qualified - with Nathaniel just squeaking in to that last transfer spot.
  • Adam Ondra did just as terribly in speed as expected, but managed to pull out #3 in bouldering and #4 in lead to make it to finals.
  • Jakob Schubert and Alberto Gines Lopez round out our qualifiers for finals, with Alex Megos just missing out in the #9 spot.

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Thanks Frank!

Watched Climbing Daily's 4-minute summary of the event as well. It sounds like Bassa Mawem, who qualified in 7th, was very seriously injured and likely cannot compete in finals (per French TV a "broken bicep" which they figure means a torn bicep). It will be interesting to see if they go with 7 climbers in finals or if Alex Megos does get boosted into that 8th slot.

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Thanks Frank!

Running list of thoughts as I watch through the full replay:

Speed

• Damn, it's too bad they couldn't have spectators, looks like a nice set-up
• The rules/finishing positions for quals and finals in speed being different from each other always throws me off. But I guess if you wanted a tourney format in quals, you'd have to have either 16 or 32 climbers (or give byes)... and also then how would you seed them? Anyways, this is why I don't like speed as much 😅
• Chon is always absolutely covered in KT tape, I don't know if it's a psychological thing or if he's always hurt
• Oof, bad start for Chon, did he even get past the first five holds?
• I know of literally neither of the people in the second round
• Wow, pretty clean run from Colin Duffy, only a couple of small errors and a great time
• I'm betting most of these PBs are from 2019 so it's not surprising that a bunch of them are getting smashed
• I'm so annoyed with the mispronunciation of a lot of the names. FFS
• I didn't really see any major errors from Nathanial Coleman, he's just a little slow on the speed wall 🤷‍♀️
• Nasty early slip from M. Mawem, but it wasn't a fall so at least he has a time on the board, even if it's not what he wants
• Country unis are apparently different between the World Cup and the Olympics – the US's unis are much more understated than usual. Not sure if I like Japan's Olympics unis. Will be interesting to see if these athletes compete in these unis going forward or if the national unis change going forward
• Two huge errors from the Kazakh, and he still goes into 1st place 😅 speed specialists
• Holy shit that speed run from B. Mawem. I think prior to the SLC comp this season that may have been a world record. It may stand as an OR through Paris, even with speed separating out (so we'll see all speed specialists in the event)
• Yep, googled it, that was the third fastest time EVER RECORDED
• Absolutely blistering time from Tomoa, I can't even describe how impressed with that I am. Adam, on the other hand... well, he did publicly say he basically gave up on training speed because he just wasn't improving enough
• Really intrigued to see if Tomoa can do as well in finals, if so he looks like he might be a lock for gold
• Colin Duffy in 4th after round 1 is damn impressive
• "Bassa Mawem of the United States" .........uh, no. Good lord someone get Matt Groom in here
• GREAT second run for Chon, who really needed that. Way to perform under pressure
• Colin Duffy almost had another really great run, just a slip right towards the end that threw off his timing
• Some of these starts I've been surprised aren't false starts. Some of them look damn close
• Nathaniel Coleman's two runs had nearly identical times, sheesh. It's funny, the first time was clean but slow and this time was not clean but the same time. Did he intentionally go safe the first run to record a time? Interesting tactic, he won't be able to do that in finals though
• Very nice run from M. Mawem. Small slip at the very start, could probably have gone about as fast as his brother if he'd done it clean
• Oh no, a fall from Kai Harada after a not great first run, that's too bad
• Ugh and a huge slip from Rishat, he did so well in the World Championships by absolutely smashing speed
• Actually, I think B. Mawem's first run was the 4th fastest time ever recorded, come to think of it – the only records I can find are the WR progression. Regardless, absolutely blistering
• Honestly, think that's a great plan from Tomoa, save the energy, you're not going to beat Mawem
• I hope Adam Ondra's speed results don't mess with his head. I've seen him get thrown off mentally during comps and it's not good. Hopefully the fact that he's written off speed entirely means it won't

I'll watch bouldering and lead after work and report back!

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Thanks Frank!

Insane! Awesome stuff.

#Let's Go - Hokies

Bouldering

• Dang, I love this walkthrough of the boulder problems, I'd love to see this in IFSC broadcasts
• "A 5 cm gap to try to put their hands in, no human can do this" yeah you should talk to the Wide Boyz 🤣
• I always feel so bad for the first two people out of the gate, having to climb by themselves... I feel less bad for the last two who are also climbing by themselves, they also have the highest seeding
• Ugh I hate starts like B1, such a pain in the ass
• Still annoyed at this commentary
• "Oh do you think he should dyno the slab?" No, no I do not
• FFS you don't have to put both hands on the zone hold, just one
• I think O'Halloran could have gotten B1 zone if he hadn't freaked out and started rushing at the minute mark. Sign of inexperience, I suppose
• OMFG it does not require 2 hands on the zone, it just requires control, which he didn't have
• An attempt starts when *both* feet are off the floor...........
• Colin Duffy threw away a bunch of attempts between getting the zone and topping B1, but that was a really nice top. Amazing technique with the fingernail crimp of the top of the zone hold
• Nathaniel Coleman looked great getting up on B1 for his first go – and he gets the zone first go. Too bad he couldn't flash, he rushed the last move
• I know B1 is where we see each climber for the first time, but honestly you could show the other boulders too!! This is why I hate bouldering semis.
• I know the coordination dynos like B3 are really flashy but honestly I hate that there's practically one being set every comp now.
• Impressed with Pan Y.'s climbing on B1, he's not someone I've seen much before
• Really impressive top of B3 by Colin Duffy
• Saw Coleman staring at his skin on B3, hope it's not too torn up/he can recover in two days (tearing up the skin on your hands/fingers makes it hard to climb!)
• Love this start on B4, it's reminiscent of a recent World Cup boulder that Adam Ondra just smashed his way through, excited to see him on it
• "US 1-2" yeah cause our seeds were shitty and most of the top climbers are yet to come
• Not surprised Adam Ondra topped #1 so quickly, he's very good at slab climbing
• Nathaniel Coleman with the hand jam AND the knee bar on B4, nice. Too bad it didn't work for him
• LOVE that bat hang on B4, what a great boulder for the sport's Olympic debut
• Jan Hojer just blew up B3, hot damn
• Adam Ondra changing his shoes – I swear this is mostly a mental thing for him, but it seems to help (usually)
• I've just realized there's a rule I'm not sure about – do you have to control the hold with your hand to get the zone? Or does the bat hang count? Hmmm
• Hilarious to watch Adam Ondra rest on a jug on a boulder problem. Surprised he didn't get that top, though (B3)
• SO MANY OF THESE NATIONAL TEAMS NEED TO HIRE THE WIDE BOYZ AS CONSULTANTS istg (in regards to the crack on B4)
• After watching Chon, I'm not sure Ondra was going for the compression at the top of B3 like the people I've seen top it have done. I wonder if his height was working against him there (in that it wouldn't work for him) or if he didn't try it that way?
• Wish they'd shown more video of Adam topping B4 (yes I'm a fucking Adam Ondra fangirl, deal with it)
• It's too bad they didn't count that as a top for Kai Harada, I think they should have (B1)
• "Alex Megos found a zone on B2" – great, wanna show it? It's literally the first score we've seen on B2 y'all
• Good, with Mawem's top of B2 we've had at least one top of every boulder
• Wait, Mawem flashed B2? Damn
• And a really nice right heel on B3 for Mawem. We'll see if the finals suit him as well as semis have
• These commentators keep acting like crack climbing is so fucking impossible??????
• "Oh Mawem's the only person who did the right foot on B3" Dudes, you've got to get the left hand first before you can put the right foot, it wasn't the right foot that had him topping out on it, it just makes getting the right hand up there a little more secure
• So many people going for the pinch on B4 rather than trying to hand jam it...

OK that's it for bouldering, I'll do lead after dinner!

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Thanks Frank!

OK so for those of you who don't want to watch but do kind of want to know what I'm on about - look at the guy in the red shorts on the green holds in this photo (in the background)

See how he's hanging from his toes, head down? Bat hang. They're then got to twist their body around and get their hand(s) up on that hold their feet are on to continue the boulder. This is the result of getting their hands up on that hold

So the hold his right heel is on is the hold that they're dangling from their toes on - and then off to the left is the dreaded crack that apparently people haven't been training enough because only three guys topped the boulder

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Lead

• Oh and a slip for Cosser, that's too bad – I thought it was pretty early but he did get 30 holds in so...
• Rookie error from O'Halloran, missing the quickdraw and having to go back down for it, especially so early in the route where it'd have been right in front of his face during observation
• Enjoying the dj a hell of a lot more than the commentary...
• O'Halloran isn't climbing terribly efficiently, I doubt he's going to top
• That's a really nice drop knee though, just past hold 20 or so
• Colin Duffy is a very smooth climber, if he can clean up his footwork (better route reading perhaps) he'll be formidable in the future
• This quickdraw by the green and yellow dish is giving everyone issues...
• Colin's climbing this so much faster than O'Halloran did, he's at the spot where O'Halloran fell after about 4 minutes and Colin still has most of 4 minutes left. Good sign
• That compression just shy of the top is EVIL, man
• Great, great work by Colin. I'm very impressed – I haven't seen much of him before, but then again he's only 17 and can only have been in senior comps for a year, so...
• That dyno by Rubtsov was UGLY
• Apparently Coleman is an Ondra-esque breather/screamer 😅
• "Audibly making the pain known" – no. This is technique people choose to employ – if you're screaming, you're breathing! Holding your breath while you climb is bad
• That compression gets Gines Lopez – very nice climb – that might be a sticking point on the route
• Great climb from Pan Y. – a person I'm not really familiar with
• Wow, Jan Hojer really stopped that swing dead on the dyno. So much strength. You can contrast this with Janja Garnbret tomorrow – it's not that she stops the swing, she doesn't, but she's just so in control of her body that it doesn't seem to matter how much she swings, she can still hold on
• Did not enjoy watching Bassa Mawem get hurt. I hope it is nothing serious but I'm afraid it probably is
• And google says it was a total rupture of the lower bicep tendon. He'll be returning to France for surgery
• Alex Megos (9th) will not be replacing him in the final. Bassa will just be marked as DNS
• Laughing at the porno music playing while Adam climbs
• A little surprised Adam came off where he did, he didn't look tired. He may have just gotten ahead of himself
• Deeply annoyed with how the broadcast keeps cutting out
• "There's nothing to hold" man, I beg to differ, those half-moon holds usually have a little bit of a lip to them, it's not huge but they're not like a perfect 90 degree corner there. ALSO they put crimps onto the half-moons, so...
• I enjoy watching Sean Mccoll climb, he's a fun mix of gracefulness and strength
• Surprised Megos came off on that pinch
• Not surprised Mawem doesn't have the stamina for lead, but damn impressive in speed/bouldering
• Scoring is turning into such a mess here towards the end!
• The analysis of "oh if two Americans wind up in the finals, Americans love the Olympics, it'll be huge for the sport" is probably true to an extent, but only if they show it during prime time. Which I highly doubt they will.
• Really nice climb by Jakob Schubert, unfortunate that he and Colin Duffy tied on holds and it came down to time, but they both qualified for finals so I suppose I can't get to upset
• Ack that slip by Tomoa, he's so lucky he caught that
• Man he is struggling with that quickdraw, I think that's the same troublesome one from earlier
• Surprised Tomoa came off so early, but he had a few errors

See you tomorrow for women's quals!

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So my back-of-the-envelope math shows Colin Duffy could take silver, if he does as well as he did today. Speed bracket should look like this:

Mawem vs Coleman
Narasaki vs B. Mawem
Duffy vs Gines Lopez
Schubert vs Ondra

If everyone hits their best speed time from today every round (yes I know that's a total crapshoot), and with B. Mawem being in the final, but out due to injury (per reports), speed results should look like:

1. Narasaki
2. Colin Duffy (benefits from being on the opposite side of the bracket from Mawem and Narasaki)
3. Mawem
4. Schubert
5. Gines Lopez
6. Coleman
7. Ondra
8. B. Mawem (DNS)

If relative rankings are the same for boulder & lead as today, final standings would look like this:

Speed Boulder Lead Total
Narasaki 1 2 7 14
Duffy 2 4 2 16
Mawem 3 1 6 18
Schubert 4 5 1 20
Ondra 7 3 4 84
Gines Lopez 5 7 3 105
Coleman 6 6 5 180
B. Mawem 8 8 8 512

Annnnnd that chart looks like ass but I can't remember how to format things so that it won't

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Oops, turns out I was wrong about the bracket order for speed, as it's seeded based on the speed results from the quals, not the overall seed from the quals. This is actually great news for both Adam Ondra and Colin Duffy. Ondra was slated to go up against B. Mawem in the first round, but Mawem has retired from the competition, meaning Adam will wind up no worse than 4th, rather than 7th. The winner of Duffy vs Gines Lopez in the first round will be up against Adam in the second round, which would make them no worse than 2nd (presuming they don't fall vs Adam). The bottom half of the bracket is top heavy, with both Tomoa Narasaki and M. Mawem competing there.

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Women's quals today!

Speed
• And speed starts out well, fall from one and a huge slip and a terrible time from the other 🙄
• Funny how 7.29 would be a terrible result for the men but is great for the women, but I guess that's true in a lot of sports
• OK but can you imagine being from Australia and being named Oceania?
• Different commentators, same complaints
• Very nice run for Miho Nonaka, considering she's won a speed World Cup medal, I'm surprised she bettered her PB so much – though there is an aspect of luck in speed finals
• Blistering run by Miroslaw, 5/100ths off the WR
• Seems like we have more speed specialists on the women's side then there were on the men's
• Oh I didn't know Shauna Coxsey was retiring
• I swear when I looked up qualifiers and compared them to WR holders in speed that we weren't going to see any of the speed WR holders, but I guess I was wrong. Or maybe that's a newish WR?
• Looks like Japan's national team trained speed pretty hard, but they need to go out and hire some crack specialists!!
• Big slip for Janja, fingers crossed for her second run
• Pretty clean run for Brooke Raboutou, just... slow.
• Wow 7.55 for Miho Nonaka
• SO DAMN CLOSE to a new WR for Miroslaw, 6.97 is 1/100th off
• NOOOOO a huge slip from Kaplina right at the end, she was going so so well and may have bested her WR if it hadn't been for that. What a disappointing event for her, only 7.65 in her first run. That's probably blown her chances for qualifying for finals
• Took the time to pause the video at exactly the right spot to see the clock. She slipped off the last foothold so she wound up about a foot and a half short of the timing pad, at the 6.8 second mark (running clock is only displaying tenths). That really, really could have been a new WR. Heartbreaking!

Bouldering
• Oh look, another coordination dyno
• Commentators just described B4 as being a "US-style boulder" and I have no idea what that means 🤣
• Very nice top of B1 by Kyra Condie
• Watching Meshkova on B4, I guess this campus-y, flashy thing is US-style? K.
• "Legs can't be swinging around, that's not control" – dude, if you've got two solid hands on the top, it doesn't matter how much your legs are swinging around 🙄
• A little bit of a disappointing round for Kyra Condie, 1 top 3 zones, she's in 4th for now but the top 7 seeds have yet to even see the wall yet
• Brooke Raboutou looked great on that second attempt at B1
• With a second top, Brooke puts herself straight into 3rd position – and she still has two boulders to go
• Impressive stop on the middle hold of what's supposed to be a coordination dyno by Shauna Coxsey
• Awesome top of B4 by Brooke Raboutou, I think she's the first to top it – and she flashed it. 3 tops 4 zones is a great finish for her
• Miho Nonaka grabbing her wrist after falling off B3 – hope she's ok
• Listen, Petra Klingler has awesome arms and I have a girl crush on them
• Miroslaw gets literally no points in bouldering – not even a zone
• Loved watching Akiyo campus B4, I'm going to miss watching her climb
• Just Janja doing Janja things – 4 tops, 4 flashes. No biggie

Lead to come

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Lead
• Terrible early slip from Sterkenburg, that's definitely her chance gone
• Wooooo huge splits
• Rogora does not look good on this lead route, probably means bad things for her chances
• Looks like Kyra Condie just got a little too aggressive and slipped off, she was going really well up until that point
• Some real cover-your-eyes moves from Seo, but a great climb!
• Jessie Pilz definitely maxed out on that climb, I'm thinking the route setters might not have this one dialed in quite right
• Little bit of a route reading error from Brooke Raboutou, but she's gonna qualify
• Janja doing not Janja things and comes off the wall early (well, for Janja, who tops out more often than not it seems)

That means our qualifiers are:

Janja in #1 – she didn't do as well in speed (or lead) as she could have and was still the #1 seed. Can anyone beat her in the finals?
Chaehyun Seo, very young athlete from Korea who I haven't seen much of. She did great in bouldering and won lead, though
Miho Nonaka, Akiyo Noguchi, and Brooke Raboutou, some of the favorites going in.
Jessie Pilz, who came #2 in lead
Aleksandra Miroslaw and Anouck Jaubert, who get in by dint of going 1-2 in speed.

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Men's finals!

Speed
• I hate that Bassa Mawem got hurt, but this really opens the door for Adam Ondra. He had absolutely no margin of error when it was pretty certain that he'd take 8th in speed, but 4th instead means he doesn't necessarily have to win both bouldering and lead to get gold
• Colin Duffy false starts, which is a huge error. Winning vs Gines Lopez would have meant that he cake walked into the top 2
• Coleman vs M. Mawem was a much closer race than it had any right to be, very very exciting
• Mawem has a huge error early vs Tomoa and hands Tomoa a top 2 – not good for everyone else in the field, as Narasaki kicks ass at both lead and bouldering
• Duffy is visibly in a bad head space after he false start. He needs to kick it so it doesn't affect the next two rounds
• Adam gets below 7 seconds for the first time – at least in competition. He's so excited about it! I have literally never seen anyone happier to get 4th in something
• Oh my god – Tomoa fucked up so hard in finals. Second is nothing to sneeze at but we'll see how that affects things later

Bouldering
• Oh look, ANOTHER coordination dyno. Look, I get that they give good separation between the competitors, but I'm bored of them. Give me more cracks – I bet there will be one in women's finals since we didn't see one in their semis
• B3 is incredibly visually appealing. I have absolutely no idea how to climb it though!
• Nice foot jam from Nathaniel Coleman on B1! And a great top, I'm so pleased he held that top – and flashed it
• Jakob Schubert with the foot swap on B1 – let's see if that's helpful or not, Gines Lopez and Coleman both did the cross-through. Getting the zone looked really easy for him, but he also did a really nice job of both those foot swaps. And he's using the foot jam, too. Gines Lopez just smeared on the volumes and couldn't get past the zone. Schubert flashes B1 too, and his top looked much more controlled than Coleman
• Let's see where Colin's head is at. If we'd started with a power boulder his bad mood might not have mattered as much, but you need intense focus for slabs like this. And he comes out and smashes B1 – I think that's the best looking top so far. Good sign. Colin didn't use the foot jam, just smeared, but did that so fast and so clean
• Adam goes for the heel hook on the zone hold rather than the more dynamic movement to the top and slips off! Surprising mistake. And then on his second attempt he tried to use his height and get the fingertip top – slips AGAIN but manages to boost himself up and grab the screw-on hold on the top. That was nerve-wracking. Not flashing B1 is going to put him behind, but that was a hell of a save to get it in 2 attempts
• Tomoa's footwork there made me cringe, but he gets another flash of B1. I think the route setters are going to be disappointed with this one, they didn't quite get it right
• And Mawem also flashes B1, meaning we have a 5-way tie for 1st (ignoring countback to semis)
• Smith Rock shout out!
• Nice knee bar for a bit of a rest on B2 from Coleman. I'm sure we'll see that from Adam, too
• HOLY SHIT that coordination toe hook from Coleman to stop the swing was a thing of beauty
• Right hand to top and pressing the volume with the left from Schubert doesn't look like bad beta, if you are strong enough to hold it. I think he only has time for one more attempt at it, though. He goes for the left hand and toe hook combo for his second try at the top and misses that, too. I think he'd have it his next real attempt at the top, but sadly he's run out of time
• Hands-free knee bar from Colin, but he had to stack his feet to get it. The next time they line up side-by-side I need to see how tall he is relative to the other finalists
• Adam can't even get the zone – but it's well known he hates coordination moves like this. I figured that even if he did get the zone, he wouldn't get the top – he's terrible at coordination toe hooks (but he may have been able to stick it another way)
• Nathaniel Coleman in the lead heading into B3 with the only top of B2! Gines Lopez far behind with no tops, Adam Ondra missing the zone on B2 puts him next to last
• Sneaky knee bar on B3 from Gines Lopez, but he's going to end in last with only 3 zones. Fortunately he got #1 in speed so he'll be going into lead – his specialty – with 7 points. If he can win it, he can possibly take gold
• Coleman can't top B3, he'll have to see if 2 tops 3 zones in 4 attempts is good enough to keep him in 1st.
• Adam can't get the top, that's not good for him. He's going to stay in 6th for bouldering, plus the 4th in speed – he's got to win lead for any chance at a medal – and depending on how everything falls out with the last few people in bouldering, he may not even have that
• Mawem lands funny coming off B3 and comes up grabbing his leg – it looks like he's going to try again so it can't be too bad
• Mawem can't top, which means Nathaniel Coleman wins bouldering!
• Route setters probably aren't going to be happy with that job, too many flashes of B1 and no tops of B3

Lead
• We go into lead with Tomoa, Mawem, and Coleman (!!) all tied up at 6, with Gines Lopez right behind them at 7. Colin's got 20 and Adam has 24. They're both on the outside looking in. Jakob Schubert has practically no chance left at 35. If Colin or Adam wants to medal, they need to win lead.
• Tomoa just casually hanging from one hand on the giant yellow dish. Annnnnd Tomoa having issues with clipping the quickdraws again... Gosh he is being very brave during this climb, he still needs to do decently well here to medal. Hard to tell with him going first if 33+ is a good score or not
• Mawem falls around 23, that's at best a silver for him
• AHHHHHHH Coleman gets 1 hold past Narasaki, that puts him in first (for now)
• Adam doesn't quite top out. He's in first for now and has to wait to see what everyone else does
• Gines Lopez falls a few moves short of Adam's high mark. Adam is breathing a hair (but just a hair) easier now. Gines Lopez currently sitting in 1st (of the climbers who have gone on lead) but we have 2 more climbers
• You guys this is so tense I can barely watch
• Watching them all campus between this giant yellow dish and the volcano to the left, then dropping down to the foothold volume is so nerve wracking for me. It's so low down on the route, too
• I'm going to throw up before this is over I swear. Colin Duffy slots into second, between Adam and Gines Lopez. Gines Lopez is still in first, but barely. If Jakob Schubert can pass Gines Lopez but not Adam Ondra, Ondra wins. If Schubert passes Ondra, Gines Lopez wins. If Schubert doesn't pass Gines Lopez, Gines Lopez wins. Yes I have a spreadsheet going.
• SCHUBERT TOPS OUT
• GINES LOPEZ WINS
• NATHANIEL COLEMAN OF THE US GETS SILVER
• SCHUBERT GETS HIMSELF A BRONZE
• Schubert's reaction to bronze is amazing, Gines Lopez looks like he's gone into shock
• Everyone who medaled won one of the events – Gines Lopez took speed, Coleman took bouldering, Schubert took lead
• Jakob Schubert is so excited for Alberto Gines Lopez, it's adorable

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I feel bad for Brooke Raboutou. Slipped out of a pocket she would have stuck 95% of the time. Overall, I feel like the women's podium is more reflective of the best women's competition climbers than the mens. While I hardly ever watch / care about gym climbing, it was still fun to see these guys/gals give it their all.

I'm curious to see whether gym climbing becomes a be-all-end-all endevour for a larger proportion of climbers. Right now, there is certainly a group of folks who only climb in the gym, and a group of folks who use it as training for outdoors / stepping stone to get outdoors. Does outdoor climbing grow proportionally to indoor climbing?

I think Coleman was the only real surprise in the men's comp. Well, and I suppose Tomoa not medaling after crushing it at the World Champs in 19. I had both Gines Lopez and Schubert pegged as finalists/favorites. Gines Lopez in particular has been very good recently.

I think climbing in general is going to grow after this. It's exciting for the sport. It's definitely easier to get into gym climbing than outdoors, so I think the balance will be thrown off for a bit as there's an influx of interest, but then some people won't stick with it and some people will head outdoors, and the proportions will settle back down again - at least until Paris.

The next time I'm at the gym (which will hopefully be soon? stupid ankle) I'll have to ask the owner if he's seen a bunch of newbies come in :)

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Women's finals! Who wants to bet against Janja Garnbret and give me free money? 🤣

Speed
• Really slow speed run from Miroslaw, but pretty much all she had to do was finish, I think Seo is worse (relative to the rest of the field) than Ondra at speed
• Nice run from Akiyo, top 4 for speed is going to boost her campaign
• Janja gets smoked by Jaubert, but speed is her weakest event
• A fall for Brooke Raboutou, but she probably wasn't beating Miho anyways
• Brooke vs Janja may have medal implications, we shall see. Slips from both of them and Janja just edges Brooke by 0.1 seconds
• It's nice that we're going to see speed vs speed for the final
• Brooke in 7th... well at least it's not last
• PB for Janja to come in 5th
• MIROSLAW WITH THE WORLD RECORD

Bouldering
• Yup that looks like a crack on B3!
• Not really sure why Miho keeps trying to do B1 *so* dynamically
• NOOOOO damn that was so close for Brooke
• Just Janja doing Janja things
• Ahhhhhh Miho so close
• Brooke SO CLOSE to another top AGAIN
• I mean do I even need to say anything about Janja anymore? Hey look she can't be beaten in bouldering, and there's still a boulder to go
• I do have to admit she probably makes the route setter's job hella difficult, because you don't want her to flash everything, but she's also just... so much better than everyone else. If you set to make things difficult for her, they're damn near impossible for the mere mortals she's competing against
• I do enjoy the combined format, but I understand why people don't. After this, though, I am kinda glad they're going to break speed out by itself because honestly it's pretty fucking embarrassing to watch finalists not even get a single zone
• Zone for Brooke, that's going to give her second for bouldering!
• What the fuck was wrong with the route setting in bouldering finals?? Men's was terrible, women's was worse. Two tops TOTAL out of all three boulders by all competitors (that's 24 attempts!) is straight up embarrassing

Lead
• Pretty sure Miroslaw won't be medaling with that performance (you roughly need to be under 40 and I'll be very surprised if that's not another 8th place). But hey, she got the WR
• Unlucky miss by Brooke, and she climbs so early it's hard to tell whether she'll be ok or not
• Akiyo Noguchi's last comp climb ever 😭
• Miho falls early(ish) and Janja wins the whole thing
• After Jessie Pilz goes, Janja and Miho are guaranteed 1-2, bronze is yet to be decided. Could be Akiyo, Jessie, or Seo – who is the last climber. Not quite as exciting as the men's, but still pretty good 🙂
• AKIYO AND MIHO TAKE BRONZE AND SILVER
• It's so unfortunate there can't be spectators, can't you just imagine all the Japanese fans losing their collective minds rn?
• Did anyone bet against Janja? Anyone?

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So anyone climbed Pilot Mtn? Was driving to Winston Salem and thought hey., that's nice looking piece of rock with incredible views. Looks like numerous 5.7-5.9 sport routes.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

Pilot is a great local crag. Super easy approach. I live in Winston and get out there a decent amount. The Sauratown mountain range has four places to climb within about 15 miles from each other: Pilot (top rope and sport), Sauratown (sport + trad + mixed, open only in winter), Moore's wall (bouldering + trad), and Cooks Wall (trad + sport + mixed).

Awesome thanks! Was not aware of those other spots

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'