National Indoor Bouldering Series Round Four
Only a day after the Olympic climbing fever was peaking and the very first Olympic gold medals had been awarded to climbers, the final round of the 2021 National Indoor Bouldering Series was set to be a blast. With the overall placements in NIBS still not decided going into the last competition, there was a great turn-out from up and down the country by some of the strongest contenders to try to secure a podium at Northern Rocks in Auckland. The format allows all abilities and ages to find challenges at their level, and we again saw beginners in the sport side-by-side with the best competition climbers in New Zealand in the four qualifying rounds, before the big finals show from the top five female and male athletes in the open categories.
Most competitors with hopes for a place in the finals opted for the 2:30-4:30pm qualifying round, which allows them to watch each other and know how many of the hardest problems to complete to get through to finals, while also allowing a bit of a rest to recharge before the finals. a competitor's top seven boulder problems out of almost 60 count towards the score. With the difference in format between qualifiers and finals–the qualifiers having an element of strategy–it was a surprise to see top seeded climber Josh Cornah not having climbed enough hard problems, the same scenario from the Christchurch round where Wiz Fineron also surprisingly missed out on finals. Josh climbed in the qualifying round before most others and perhaps didn’t get the benefit of energy and beta from his peers. Or maybe the more humid climate of the north was a shock to his dry Canterbury air accustomed fingertips! In any case, it required ticking at least seven black tagged problems to climb again that evening, which exactly five men managed to do: George Sanders, Jayden Deacon, Oskar Wolff, Rob Gajland and Tom Waldin.
In the female category there was also a clear split, with the top five getting 56 points or more, and as expected Cirrus Tan and Erica Gatland got the chance to battle for the overall title. With Cirrus having won in Dunedin and taken a second place in Christchurch and Erica bringing a victory from Wellington and Christchurch, it was still open who would win the series. Amanda Speed, Sarah Tetzlaff and Miriam Bright added to the excitement, Amanda Speed qualifying in first place with three black tags.
The first finals problem for the men–a slab–looked deceptively easy as first out Tom flashed it in style. The next three–George, Jayden and Rob–all struggled to leave the start holds behind and it wasn’t till Oskar came out that the audience got to see another top, but in a few attempts.
The women, meanwhile, were tested on a slab coordination problem. Only Erica stuck the dynamic step across the volume first go, but then lost balance while pulling an almost Janja Garnbret worthy scorpion move for the camera further up and had to try two more times to repeat the start. Amanda was out of her comfort zone on the not-static first move, but true to form, once past, the rest of the boulder was just a question of contortions, and most onlookers were disturbed by the extreme kneedrop she could perform without an injury popping sound. Cirrus and Sarah both also managed a convincing top once a couple of goes on the first move had fine-tuned the coordination.
The second problem was the men’s turn to move a bit faster, and this time everyone got well off the ground and the split was found in the last move. Again, Tom and Oskar proved to have the little bit extra to stick the top, both second go.
The women were on an overhang with the crux move for three of them being keeping tension and using a heel well enough to pull from a macro into an undercling and transfer into a press. Erica and Amanda were here on home territory though and flashed the problem.
This left a lot open for the last finals problem. The men were finishing on a power tester, where the energy use from the whole day was starting to be apparent for some. With another flash from Tom, he secured his convincing victory of the night and Oskar’s flash put him into second place–which with Josh’s absence from the finals put him into series first overall. Rob managed a top too, which gave him the third place on the night.
The women had the steepest overhang and a double dyno which unfortunately was that little bit too hard to stick. All had similar struggles to hold the swing back once they had the second hold of the dyno. Amanda and Miriam both managed to static to the first of the two holds for landing the dyno, meaning they got awarded a hold further than the rest. This made the difference for the result of the night splitting Amanda and Erica, Amanda being the winner. A second place for Erica was enough to secure another overall series title, to add to at least seven of them through the years.
The turnout and excitement from participators and the crowd watching made this another excellent event, which every year has expanded in size. Sefton Priestley, the original brain behind the series for NZAC, travelled to all events as a competitor this year and not only kept the backstage in order, but also managed a first place in the overall master’s category. Full results can be found at www.nibs.nz. Sefton announced during the prizegiving that a survey will be mailed out in the next month for feedback and suggestions, as the event has grown to such a size that it's time for some possible adjustments to the series format
A big thank you to our events sponsors The North Face, Uprising, Bivouac Outdoor and La Sportiva, and to all the volunteers, staff and route setters in all the participating gyms.
Thanks also to Lee Howell for the fantastic images of this event.
Report by Christina Rivett