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Gladiator Finals!!!

The comp last night was pretty ridiculous.  A strong men’s field showed up, including Matt Wilder, Colin Bauer, Alex Manikowski, Tyler Haack, Alex Johnson, Ian Dory, Mike Auldridge, Andre DiFelice, and Daniel Woods.  The women’s category was even more of a battle, with Tiffany Hensley, The Youngwerth Twins, Courtney Sanders, Kelly McBride, Stephanie Marvez, Mercedes Pollmeier, Courtney Behnke, Spot Women’s Team members including Sarah Heath and Emily Lewellen, and a ton of strong female youth competitors to boot.  In fact, 6 kids from the youth comp were in the running to qualify for women’s finals (though only two, 12 year old Team ABC member Margo Hayes, and The Spot’s own Tika Anderson, competed).  Megan Mascarenas, a 13 year old from Colorado Springs, actually won the open category points-wise, though she had to go home before finals.

Daniel Woods winning. Sorry the picture is so blurry. I'll post better ones as soon as I have them.

The Problems

Because this is the Gladiator Finals, we knew the finals problems would have to be of truly epic proportions.  Both problems started on a far side of the wall (men’s to the left, women’s to the right) and climbed across the Beach towards the middle prow where they both ended.  The women’s problem had 31 scored moves on it, and the men’s had something like 24.  They were so long that if they’d gone straight up, each problem would have warranted several clips.  The idea was to make the problem in sections, each section the competitors would have to test a different set of skills.  The men’s problem started off with some technical mantle moves, then went through a few powerful downclimb/swing moves before entering a powerful crimp section.  From there were some large, fun campus moves on big Atomik pockets before the final compression/dynamic finish.  The women’s problem started off with some campusy moves on a sloper and a jug before a mantle/technical section to a sideways mini-dyno.  From there was a powerful undercling cross and sloper downclimb to another power-sapping pinch section.  After a heel-hook drop down onto the blocky jug, there were several tensiony moves leading to a large cross off crimps and a slopey match at the top.  Epic.

Women’s Finals:

Tika Anderson | Photo by Jay Droeger

Tika Anderson came out first.  This was her first time competing in a SBS Open Final, though she qualified last comp but didn’t make it back in time to compete.  Tika gave a good showing on the problem, easily making the mantle and jump moves, then falling a few moves later on a slopey downclimb section.  The jump move had aggravated an existing shoulder injury, so Tika retired from the competition in hopes of being healed in time for Nationals next month.

Kelly McBride

Kelly McBride came out second.  Kelly’s only previous open finals experience was at the Spot several years ago, but she bravely stepped up and climbed several moves past Tika’s high point to the large orange Climb-it jug that marked the 2/3rds point of the problem.  With both hands and a heel on the jug Kelly took a short rest, but the previous 20 moves had sapped her strength and she fell off moving off the jug toward the red crimp pinch.

Courtney Sanders

Courtney Sanders climbed next.  Courtney has only been climbing for a few years, and this was her first time qualifying for a SBS Open Final. She and Jesse Youngwerth came into finals tied for 3rd, and Courtney climbed first.  She gave a strong showing, and after working through the mini-dyno and downclimb, she crossed the pinches and fell trying to drop down on the orange jug.  Her second go ended early on the slopey downclimb.  Because she had one hand on the jug and Kelly had matched it, the standings as of Courtney’s go were Kelly, Courtney, Tika.

Jesse Youngwerth at Highline Highball | Photo by Keith North

Jesse Youngwerth powered past the previous highpoints with apparent ease, falling 4 moves higher (and only 6 moves from the top) on a powerful crimp gaston to crimp undercling move.  Jesse didn’t seem tired when she got to the move, but it required pulling a right hand crimp gaston all the way across your body to catch a crimp undercling far out to the left, and Jesse couldn’t quite summon the reach to hit the hold without throwing.  After climbing back to the right a couple of times, Jesse finally went for the move and hit the hold, but not well enough to stick it.  Her try had taken her entire 3 minutes, and, with her new highpoint, her turn was up.

Margo Hayes

12 year old Margo Hayes of Team ABC came out for her first time competing in an adult open final, and the crowd went wild when she started to climb.  Margo qualified tied for first with Tiffany Hensley, and on the final she was truly impressive, cranking hard through the dyno, the downclimb, the pinches, the jug, and the prow until she’d reached Jesse’s highpoint on the crimp gaston.  Like Jesse, she was unable to static the move out left to the undercling, and after a few seconds tried a big throw and barely tagged the hold before falling to the mat.  Before her time ran out Margo quickly jumped back on the wall, and, looking a little more tired than before but trying hard, climbed back to her highpoint.  She fell again on the move out left, leaving her tied for 1st with Jesse (though after countbacks she was in first place).  The crowd gave her a resounding applause for her efforts.

Tiffany Hensley

Last but not least, comp veteran Tiffany Hensley came out and tried her luck.  After an unexpected fall early on the problem on her first try, Tiffany got back on the problem and climbed to Jesse and Margo’s highpoint.  She, too, had trouble with the move to the undercling, and after a moment’s hesitation, she did the throw and stuck the hold with two fingers before sagging out and falling to the mats.  It was a close call, but the judges agreed that Tiffany had exhibited some control of the hold and therefore she edged out Margo and Jesse for 1st place.

Women’s Results

1. Tiffany Hensley

2. Margo Hayes

3. Jesse Youngwerth

4. Kelly McBride

5. Courtney Sanders

6. Tika Anderson

Right after the comp ended, several of the female competitors got back on the problem to climb to the finish.  Nobody sent, but coming in from various starting points Margo, Jesse, Kelly, and Courtney all did the top moves of the problem and climbed to the finish jug.

Men’s Finals

Mike Auldridge in Font

Long time climber and competitor, Boulder local, and Team ABC coach Mike Auldridge came out first for the men after barely edging out Colin Bauer and Matt Wilder for the 6th spot in finals.  Mike gave a great showing on the technical start mantle and powerful drop down, but he was defeated by the technical and tensiony crimp section.

Ian Dory at The Battle in The Bubble

Ian Dory climbed next, though he and Andre DiFelice came into finals tied for 4th place.  Ian got a little farther than Mike did on the tensiony crimps, but he was unable to make his way to the Atomik pocket traverse and took his highpoint in the crimps.

Andre DiFelice

Andre DiFelice only competes occasionally, but he always manages a strong showing, and this time was no different.  Unfortunately, he, too, fell on the crimp section, at the same place as Auldridge, but, because he qualified higher, he ended up just ahead in the standings.

Alex Johnson

Recent Denver transplant Alex Johnson (aka “The Other Alex Johnson), came in 3rd in qualifiers and looked great on the final until, of course, the crimp section.  The moves on the small blue Teknik and E-Grips crimps threw him off, putting him just behind Ian in 2nd place.

Alex Manikowski

Powerful climber Alex Manikowski was the only one besides Daniel Woods to climb O9 in the main competition.  Alex climbed the problem by dynoing from the new E-Grips bubble wrap sloper to the top of the wall–skipping the intended sequence in an impressive display of power and pinch strength.  Finals didn’t go quite as well for him, with problems getting into the crimp section that landed him behind Auldridge in the standings.

Daniel Woods

Finally, Daniel Woods came out and had his go.  In an awesome display of power, Daniel hung on through the tension crimps and stuck the mini-dyno to the first of the Atomik pockets.  He swung through the traverse, deadpointed the drop-down pocket, and stuck the compression sloper up the prow.  Only one move remained, a pogo to the E-Grips hueco finish off the right hand sloper, a left hand crimp, and a slopey right foot, and Daniel crushed it.  He swung his leg down, he swung his leg up, he dynoed, and he barely barely stuck the hueco.  The crowd went crazy as he worked his way into control of the hueco and made the problem’s only ascent.

Men’s Results

1. Daniel Woods

2. Ian Dory

3. Alex Johnson

4. Andre DiFelice

5. Mike Auldridge

6. Alex Manikowski

Full results, photos, and video to come, so stay tuned!

  1. Ivan Rezucha
    January 25, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Fun writeup Jackie. Thanks. It was good to see the photos of the finalists in the “real” world.


  2. Ivan Rezucha
    January 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Looks like Tiffany wasn’t completely in the real world.

    • Jackie
      January 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      : ) Thanks!

  1. January 25, 2011 at 7:18 am
  2. January 28, 2011 at 6:39 am
  3. February 5, 2011 at 1:55 am
  4. March 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

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