The 2017 Australian Open Lead and Speed Championships were held at Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym Villawood on 31 March and 1 April, Katariina Rahikainen reports.
The big change this year was running the Championships as an adult-only competition, with Open A, Open B and Masters. The National Youth Championships in Boulder, Lead and Speed will be held in Victoria in May.
Friday evening saw the fastest climbers in the country take on the World Cup standard Speed wall, the holds of which are the same all around the world. “The wall was beautiful, with two brand new sets of holds purchased by SCA for the event. The competitor field was not as big as expected but it was the most impressive speed competition seen in Australia and this is really promising for this relatively new discipline.” said Naomi Cleary, event organiser. It seemed like only the most courageous and curious competitors signed up despite this being a golden opportunity for climbers to try their hand at the head-to-head Olympic discipline, and most observers were seen to regret not signing up when the fun had begun!
Open and Master Speed categories included previous Australian Lead Champion, Carlie LeBreton, as well as SCA director, Paul Kinnane, and the event’s lead route setting team. Ultimately Roxy Perry and Jarred Jordan took home the female and male Open A Speed gold medals. In a sign the Olympic committee are paying attention to climbing, 19-year-old Jarred Jordan was interviewed about his victory by Georgia Thompson from the Australian Olympic Committee.
On Saturday, Open A, Open B and Masters Lead categories were fought out by large fields. The qualification routes for both female and male split the competitors well, with over half the field topping route one. Qualification route two was a different story, with only Emma Horan topping the female route and no tops in the males. The finals routes were fairly easy up until the roof, and from then on the field was divided. Roxy Perry, the 20-year-old Tasmanian, nabbed the Open Women’s title from Lucy Stirling by a very small margin, with Emma Horan close behind in third. ‘This was one of the most intense yet rewarding competitions I’ve ever been in.’ Roxy commented, ‘The final was so close and all the girls were really strong, it didn’t make it easy! I’m not used to the incredibly tall walls that SICG Villawood boasts, but I have been training my resistance very heavily lately… I guess it worked!’
‘This is the oldest final in Open A there has been in a long while!’, Campbell Harrison, 19, exclaimed in isolation before claiming his second Australian Open A Lead Championships title. By old final Campbell was commenting that there were not as many youth climbers in isolation as usual. The field included climbers such as the 28-year-old Tom Farrell, whilst International climbers were also represented in almost all categories with strong performances from Iranian World Cup competitor, Khosro Hashemzadeh, and Hikari Nakaya, who won female Open B. Neither of them could claim the titles, however, as rankings are reserved for Australian citizens only. Open A Male results; 1. Campbell 2. Khosro 3. Tom (with Mattias Braach-Maksvytis elevated to third).
Thanh Nguyen took the title in Open B Females whilst Ben Schaeffer from Newcastle was the clear winner in Open B Males. Saxon Johns and Georgia Arnott claimed the Master titles with clear margins to the runner-ups. A special mention goes to Frederic Bonnet, who competed in four different categories (Open A Speed, Master Speed, Open A Lead and Master Lead), placing on the podium in both Master Speed and Lead.
Across the board competitors noted that the routes were fun and technical. ‘The setting for National Open Lead was fun.’ National head routesetter, Carlie LeBreton, commented, ‘It was great to focus on a few routes to make sure they were just right, instead of setting multiple routes as we do when the youth categories are included. Having five route setters was good and it is great to have input from all around the country.’
A great job was done by Sport Climbing Australia, Villawood staff, routesetters and all the volunteers! And a big thank you to all the sponsors: KAILAS, Edelrid, Red Chili, ClifBar and Radest Productions. All pictures are courtesy of Radest Productions.
If you are in Victoria in May, make sure to join the National Youth Championships! The event will be held in three different gyms (Bayside Rock, Hardrock Nunawading and Gravityworx). In addition to encouragement, volunteers are also always needed providing the perfect opportunity to peek inside the exciting competition scene!
Katariina Rahikainen, Executive Officer / SCA