Puccio, Jafari Win At 2015 ABS Nationals Bouldering Championship

It was an exciting and ultimately controversial evening of bouldering on Saturday night in Madison, WI as Alex Puccio and Mohammad Jafari Mahmodabadi came out on top at the 2015 2015 ABS Nationals Bouldering Championship.

The Results

Men’s Final Results Women’s Final Results
  1. Mohammad Jafari Mahmodabadi
  2. Daniel Woods (National Champion)
  3. Michael O’Rourke
  4. Josh Larson
  5. Nathaniel Coleman
  6. Austin Geiman
  7. Rob D’Anastasio
  1. Alex Puccio
  2. Alex Johnson
  3. Angie Payne
  4. Megan Mascarenas
  5. Kyra Condie
  6. Grace McKeehan

Starting with the women, Alex Puccio was the heavy favorite coming into the weekend and she did not disappoint.  She was the only female competitor to complete more than one problem in finals, finishing all four and flashing the last three to give her a decisive 9th National Championship.  Behind her in 2nd and 3rd places were Alex Johnson and Angie Payne, both of whom beat out Megan Mascarenas for spots on the podium on the strength of their performances on the opening problem of the final.

For the men, things got interesting when the three top male competitors all finished with two tops and had to be separated by points under this year’s new Rank Scoring format.  Based on the strength of his performance on the technical 3rd boulder, a problem the rest of the field really struggled with, Iraninan climber Mohammad Jafari Mahmodabadi narrowly defeated Daniel Woods and Michael O’Rourke.  As Jafari is not a U.S. citizen he is not eligible to be National Champion so that title went to Woods, his 9th.

BOOM! #absnationals #earthtreks #earthtreksgolden #earthtreksclimbingteam

A post shared by Will Anglin (@captainwangles) on

The Controversy

Afterwards the attention of the competitors and many watching at home went toward deciphering just what had happened[1.  I wish I could have done a better job at explaining this while we were on the air].  From the USA Climbing website is this explanation of how to understand the results:

To understand the ranking methodology, consider each boulder/route as its own competition. Each competitor is ranked based on how they perform on each boulder/route, with a TOP (or highest hold controlled), in the least number of attempts resulting in the highest ranking. Each competitor’s placement in the round is the result of a combined ranking of his/her rank on each individual boulder/route.

rank_scoring

At a high level this scoring system makes sense, however the details are where it gets complicated and leaves the door open for a number of minor differences in individual performances to affect the outcome.  For instance:

  • Daniel Woods wins if he gets one hold further on problem 3
  • Daniel Woods wins if Josh Larson does not get as high as him on problem 4
  • Daniel Woods wins if Michael O’Rourke and Nathaniel Coleman don’t both send problem 2, tying Woods on that problem and bringing down his rank
  • Josh Larson wins if he matches the finish on problem 4
  • And so on…

Of course Woods and O’Rourke could also have won had either finished the final problem, something Woods nearly did in which case nobody would likely be talking about any of this.

Ultimately, I do think the Rank Scoring format is “fair” in what it is trying to do, but its complexity is such that it can only be reasoned out in hindsight and not in real time which is not ideal for competitors and spectators alike.  Is there a better system?  Probably.  Is it the IFSC’s bonus hold system?  Not in my mind at least[2. I saw a lot of people arguing in favor of this.  For me I don’t like a system that only rewards climbers for two holds on a boulder problem.  Many people also argued that this system is easy to understand, and while that may be true compared to Rank Scoring, I would argue that it is still not that straightforward for a casual viewer.  But maybe climbing competitions never will be?].  Will Rank Scoring be used at ABS Nationals next year?  I have no idea.

Thank You

Thanks again to everyone who tuned in for the live broadcasts this weekend.  Your viewership and support is why we work hard and continuously try to improve how we bring you these events.  I want to thank Jon, Jordan and Josh at Louder Than 11 for having me be a part of the show once again this year as well as Pete Ward for helping me call the action for you guys at home.  It was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year[4.  Or how about next month at SCS Nationals?].

If you missed anything, you can catch up at these links:

Friday – 2/6/2015

Saturday – 2/7/2015

 

Posted In: American Bouldering Series, Bouldering, News
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77 Responses to Puccio, Jafari Win At 2015 ABS Nationals Bouldering Championship

  1. Daniel Rich February 9, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    I think the clarity in the IFSC bonus hold systems outweighs the fact that it is arguably not as fair. If the rules and scoring are really clear people may still argue that so-so should have won since they seemed stronger, but it is better than people being confused and watching something else b/c they are confused or things seem fairly arbitrary.

    I also really really really don’t like that competitors are able to affect each others score. Climbing has a cool community vibe where so many people support and cheer everyone else, but this seems tailor made to incite division. I also like the idea with IFSC scoring that it can truly be a duel between two strong competitors, they only need to worry about matching each other, but with the ranks system they have be concerned about the other climbers affecting their score as well.

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    • Doug Lipinski (@outdoorhabit) February 9, 2015 at 9:38 am #

      I absolutely agree. Any reasonable scoring system should assign a scores independent of what others do. If you can’t say how well a person did on a problem until the others have finished then you need a different system. Is there a single other sport that has a system like that?

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    • timyng February 9, 2015 at 10:17 am #

      Another interesting aspect of the “bonus/top” system is the way it affects competitors and their strategy. Assuming you have already secured the bonus hold but do not feel like you have enough energy to finish the rest of the problem it might be a smarter decision to not try the problem again, whereas in a “high point” system you might still try just to get that extra hold, knowing you cant finish the problem.

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      • Narc February 9, 2015 at 10:22 am #

        I had forgotten about that as well, but I agree. You want a system that encourages and rewards climbers to get as high as they can.

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        • Zach February 9, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

          PHRASING

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        • jl333 February 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

          Without being a routesetter or knowing the methodology when creating routes and determining their difficulty, I might argue that the IFSC system allows for more creative setting.

          The current USAC rules of “highest hold wins” (setting aside the relative ranking part) encourage making each move progressively more difficult, making it potentially repetitive to watch. If I remember correctly, several of the boulders this weekend had competitors either fall off at similar points or at the last hold (most of the finish holds were SO bad! see women final 4). I think having a bonus hold system allows the progression of difficulty to be shuffled around. I think this can be more challenging for the climber as well – it challenges not only their endurance but also technique in different ways.

          Thoughts?

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          • jl333 February 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

            Also, I notice that the IFSC problems are more varied in length. This could be because they are not restrained by the highest hold rule as much. Setters can choose to separate competitors with 1/2/3 interesting moves, rather than having 6-8 moves all the time.

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          • Narc February 9, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

            My feeling is that with IFSC setting you end up with a lot of problems like W1 and M3 where attempts on tricky boulders play as much of a factor as anything else

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  2. Daniel Rich February 9, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    “unfairly arbitrary” is what I meant in the first paragraph

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  3. Urban Hairstyles February 9, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    "unfairly arbitrary" is what I meant in the first paragraph.

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  4. climber625 February 9, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Why was M3 so fingery? I feel like that is usually specifically avoided in iso comps. How shitty would you feel as a setter if a high profile climber hurt himself on your problem? I know it was mentioned that Woods may have tweaked a finger on the problem but was pretty sure he would be fine.

    And M4, a neat line but woah complex. I’d vote for 2 less moves and 2 or 3 more tops, more in the IFSC World Cup style. I think the setters are afraid they won’t be able to separate climbers, but they end up with that issue anyway. More sends equals a better show in my book.

    The women’s problems didn’t particularly separate the competitors either, just that Puccio beast moded and everyone else was left in the dust.

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    • PBC February 9, 2015 at 10:42 am #

      Climbers getting hurt during comps is sadly nothing new unfortunately. Jason Kehl wrenched his knee years ago falling\spinning. A few (dating myself here), years ago, Ethan Pringle grenaded his shoulder trying some dyno-rose-move beta on a finals problem. The problem had been done a few different ways, but I wouldn’t call his read any better or worse than the others, less the shoulder explosion. I wholeheartedly agree that needlessly violent moves should be avoided (dynamic moves to shallow pockets, etc)

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    • Michael Lohre February 9, 2015 at 11:39 am #

      M4 was far less complicated for those comfortable with jamming.

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      • DD February 9, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

        No climber but Jafari appeared to have any issues with the jamming technique-wise . . . more the fact that they were jamming on raw bleeding flesh after the first attempt.

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  5. Derek February 9, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    We, the U.S. climbing community, want a say in how we rank our climbers…thus USA climbing should conduct a “scoring” election. Bam, problem solved. Draft up some ideas and let us pick…

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  6. Wex February 9, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Does Climbing USA use ABS to see who will represent the USA in World Cups?

    Or is there other competitions in the USA that count towards national ranking? Like state championships?

    If the US wants their athletes to do well in IFSC World Cups, it may be beneficial to mimic the routesetting and scoring system in national competitions.

    For local competitions its not fair to ask a gym to run through the IFSC format. There isn’t enough top talent to warrant it and at may make competition climbing less inviting.

    Complicated issued for sure.

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    • Narc February 9, 2015 at 10:23 am #

      You make a good point. If USAC wants to establish some uniformity across the events they control for Youth/Adult levelvs that precludes them from using the IFSC format since it could never work for youth comps.

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      • Sound Check February 9, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

        Why could it never work for youth comps? Honestly asking. Seems pretty straight forward from my understanding.

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        • Narc February 10, 2015 at 6:40 am #

          I think the reason is that setting for the bonus hold system requires a fairly different approach that may be hard to replicate nationally

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        • Brad February 10, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

          The tops/bonus scoring is good for spectators, announcers, and world class setters. Local youth comps don’t have these. Like little league or AYSO soccer, the kids personal development trumps fairness or even scoring clarity. Having every hold worth a point encourages the kids push through their barriers and reach for the next hold again and again.

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    • Ryan February 9, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

      Canada uses IFSC scoring for finals at Local events and our federation is light years beyond the US with respect to organisation. We don’t even have certified setters/workshops for setters. The beauty of the format is how simple it is.

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  7. JB February 9, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    I thought the setting seemed fine. Problems appeared fair, demanding a variety of strengths and skills. There were some cool & unusual moves (i.e., the double-clutch campus dyno), yet I still felt like I was watching bouldering, and not some upwards-moving yoga/parkour event. I was never thinking to myself, “That problem (or move) seems stupid.” What were the competitors thoughts on the setting?

    In terms of scoring, I think the following would work well:

    1. For each problem, record a climbers high-point, and the attempt on which that high-point was reached.

    2. After each problem, the climber who got furthest on that problem receives 5 points, Next furthest gets 4 points . . . down to the 6th climber who gets 0 points.
    i.e.
    Problem #1
    1st = Climber A (Top, 1st attempt) = 5pts.
    2nd = Climber B (Top, 2nd attempt) = 4 pts.
    Tie for 3rd = Climber C (6th hold, 1st attempt) = 3 pts.
    Tie for 3rd = Climber D (6th hold, 1st attempt) = 3pts
    5th = Climber E (4th hold) = 1 pt.
    6th = Climber F (2nd hold) = 0pts.

    3. After all problems, the climber with the highest total points wins.

    As with any system, there would be lots of little details to iron out. But I feel like, from a spectators stand-point, the results from this scoring system would generally align with our instinct of “Who seems like they won? Was 2nd? 3rd?” and so on.

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    • Nate February 9, 2015 at 11:51 am #

      What you described is the current system with the exception that the number of tops takes priority. If you top 3 problems then you beat someone who topped 2 problems, points don’t matter. But if you need to compare two people who each topped 2 problems, your solution is roughly what is in place.

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  8. JB February 9, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    I didn’t think so initially, but maybe what I just described is identical to the scoring system that was used.

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    • Daniel Rich February 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      I actually like your proposed system better than the real one. The key difference is that in your system when you tie for 3rd you get points as if you were third, but in the real system it averages 3rd and 4th place points.

      Imagine how it looks on a problem where one guy gets to the last hold and all the rest are tied at one hold below him. Call the guy who got the furthest Climber A.

      In your system they all tie for 2nd and he gains a small advantage over the rest. Seems fair.

      In the current system they get averaged for 2-6th and get points as if they were all 4th. The one guy gains a large advantage over all of the rest.

      On the next boulder let’s assume that they all spread out but nobody tops. With your system, in order to tie one of the guys who placed 2nd on the previous boulder must do one more move than Climber A, or 2+ moves in order to win outright.

      With the actual system one of those other guys must do at least 3 moves more than Climber A just to tie, with 4+ moves to win.

      This seems like an unreasonable advantage for doing one move more(even if it is a hard move) on a previous boulder.

      This is all assuming on the second problem the climbers spread by only one move. If say the second problem spreads the climbers out further then Climber A might still win even if the 2nd climber gets much further in that problem.

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      • JB February 10, 2015 at 1:52 am #

        Well, for your first example to actually happen, one climber has do do a single move that no other competitor are able to complete. One climber has to do a move that’s a total stopper to ALL the other competitors. Maybe that qualifies for a bit more advantage than that of just any other move. How much more is of course debatable but it’s something to consider.

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        • JB February 10, 2015 at 1:58 am #

          Didn’t realize that I used the same initials as original poster, just to clarify. Different JB.

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  9. ed February 9, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I’m still confused how Jafari won – both him and Daniel had 2 tops (M1/M3 vs M1/M2), Daniel got further along on M3 than Jafari on M2 and Daniel got to the last hold on M4 while Jafari didn’t get even close. Can someone please explain how this makes sense?

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    • Nate February 9, 2015 at 11:45 am #

      Here’s a link that someone posted earlier that outlines scoring http://crankchronicles.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-hell-are-points-explanation-and.html
      Basically they both had 2 tops so that mean the winner comes down to the number of points earned. Jafari’s success on M3 was extremely valuable in terms of points because he was the only person to top. Conversely Daniel’s success of M4 was made less valuable in terms of points because Larson made it to the same spot in less attempts. When you add up all the points Jafari comes out ahead.

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      • ed February 9, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

        Thanks for the explanation! The outcome completely violates my “fairness” intuition (if Jafari gets more points because he topped the “more difficult” M3, why isn’t he equally penalized for not being able to do a single move on the “easier” M2, where difficult and easy are based on other climbers’ performance), but thanks.

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        • peter February 10, 2015 at 11:25 am #

          He was equally penalized. Just like he got the fewest points (good) for being the first ranked person on problem 3, he got the most points (bad) for being the last ranked person on problem 2.

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          • ed February 10, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

            Daniel topped M2 and couldn’t do a move on M3; Jaffari couldn’t do a move on M2 and topped M3. Jaffari got a lot more points.

            Initially I thought the rationale for this was because you use other competitors’ performance to judge difficulty of the problem and assign more points to the harder one, but that’s actually not the case. All of the problems get the same points (e.g. Jaffari got 1 point for M3 and so did Nathaniel for M2), and all that the other competitors add is weird couplings between the scores.

            I don’t see an argument that would explain why Jaffari won if you took out the other competitors – I don’t understand by what measure he did “better” than Daniel once you take the others out. And if the score only makes sense with others then, as far as my intuition of what I want measured is concerned, it’s a bad scoring system.

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    • PBC February 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      Hey hey, my article is making the rounds, sweet. What it comes down to is this: Jafari topped P3, and Daniel was tied for worst on that problem. Daniel topped P4, and Jafari was 4th worst (out of 7) on that problem. The points scoring system focuses on how you do relative to each other, not relative to the problem.

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  10. Andrew Bisharat February 9, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    As that route-setter said the broadcast, this competition isn’t about who is the best climber. IT doesn’t matter if you climbed V15 two days ago. The competition is simply who can do the best on the problems set that day … and therefore, by extension, who can also play by the rules set by the people who create the competition. What I take from all of this is that the whole thing is moot.

    What I propose is that the only thing that matters are tops. When competitors tie for tops attained, then, like a soccer-goal shoot out, we defer to a pull-up contest. It’s the only thing thing that would be fair.

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    • Jared February 9, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      In the spirit of making sure the Pooch gets to 10, how about we do arm wrestling instead of pull-ups? And then she can win men’s and women’s next year…

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  11. fingermind February 9, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    Often simplicity is the best solution:

    Win who climbs more problems.

    In case of tie, win whoever has fewer attempts.

    In case of tie, the total number of holds is counted, whoever has climbed more moves, wins.

    In case of tie… well, they tie, nothing happens, isn´t it?

    Using this simple and fair scoring system, Woods 1st, Jafari 2nd, everybody happy…

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    • Narc February 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

      This is basically the system that was used in previous years

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  12. Jesse Bruni February 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    I agree with previous comments that how well climber C does on a particular problem should have no bearing in the argument of whether climber A or climber B takes the gold medal. This scoring system doesn’t take that into account.

    It also creates problems in the case where you have a clear leader and it’s a race to see who gets second or 3rd which we saw in the female field. Puccio was going to win. That was obvious after a few problems. Then it just was a matter of who gets 2nd and who gets 3rd. IMO, Megan Mascarenas deserved to be on that podium. She got just as far as AJ and Payne on 3/4 problems, and she got farther than both of them (3 holds farther) on the other problem. But since Puccio did so well, instead of getting 1 point (would would mean not gaining any more points for that boulder on a multiplicative system) she got 2. That 2 made the difference between podium or not. And yes, she took one more attempt to get to the same point as Payne and AJ on W1 and W3, but since when does two additional attempts to reach the exact same high point kick you off the podium, despite having a stronger performance in qualifiers, semi-finals, W2, and an equal performance on W4. 2 attempts > 3 more holds???

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  13. Justin February 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    Math makes for different outcomes and I would love to know what you think of this as a proposed solution. Each problem has the possibility for 20 points that depreciate by 10% with each fall. Topping out gives a bonus of 5 points regardless of total falls. Problems are scored by dividing 20 by the total holds for a given problem. So for example men’s P1 looks like this.

    20/11=1.818181 points/hold

    This would mean each subsequent hold is worth 1.818181 out of a possible 20. Each fall reduces that value by 10%. However any top tacks on a bonus 5 points which gives climbers incentive to keep trying even though they could lose points by not topping and only achieving a new high point. The bonus also reduces the chances of someone with fewer tops ending up with more points overall.

    Apply this formula to the comp and you come out with Woods 1st, O’Rourke 2nd, Jafari 3rd. It has an even greater effect on the women’s field in which case Mascarenas ends up 2nd with Johnson 3rd.

    It’s complicated but simple at the same time. Also allows for real tie scoring and a much better idea of where things stand and what each competitor needs to do to win as the event progresses.

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  14. Pat February 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    Fun to watch, but the scoring is ridiculous. Not sure why bouldering isn’t in the Olympics yet, it’s scored just like gymnastics or diving…

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  15. Andrew February 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    If they keep the more complicated scoring system, they need a scoreboard that updates with each climber’s attempt. This would allow the audience to know the relative positioning of all the climbers, and also see the relative effect of other climber’s attempts on the top climber’s scores. Otherwise, the scoring system is too complicated for the casual watcher to know who is winning unless they are clearly dominating.

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  16. Tom Shpakow February 9, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    If the scoring continues to be as complex as it is, a running score posted at the bottom of the screen at all times (like a football game or basketball game score) would be great for the viewers (and maybe even climbers). It would keep the viewers engaged and cheering on their favorite climber and it would let the climbers know where they are at and what they have to do to advance or keep their position = psych levels high for all 🙂

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  17. Chris W February 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Whether the new system is good or bad, what it really came down to in my opinion was Daniel Woods not understanding the start of M3. If he had eliminated just one of his false starts, he would have dropped his attempts from 4 to 3. That would have taken his ranking from 6.5 to 5.5 (tied with Geiman instead of Coleman). His score would then be the 4th root of 2*2.5*5.5*2=2.723, beating Jafari’s 4th root of 2*7*1*4=2.736

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    • Narc February 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

      That is also correct. Wow.

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      • Chris W February 9, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

        Coleman could have also won with a top of M4.

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        • Narc February 9, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

          Five people with a chance to win stepping up to the final problem. Can we go back to the broadcast so I can say this???

          (I edited from four to five prior to seeing the response below)

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          • Chris W February 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

            5 actually. Everyone but Austin and Rob. The problem of course being that with this system, you can’t know that beforehand because it all depends on how everyone does. If you had a stat geek crunching the numbers for you in realtime, however, you could have known when Nathaniel stepped up to the problem last that he could win it with a top.

            Back to M3, that brings up a good question. Do the judges/setters tell the climbers what is on and what is off and what they can and can’t do, or do the climbers have to ask?

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          • Ryan February 9, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

            As someone who has taken a judging course from an IFSC certified official and judged at Regional level competitions:

            The judge would likely not be explaining the start/what’s on or off for each problem, without being asked by the competitor. The competitors would have been briefed on the rules (how starts and finishes are marked, boundaries, etc) in ISO. If a climber is unsure, they may ask a judge at each problem for clarification. The judge is required to provide consistent answers to each competitor.

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          • Narc February 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

            The judges should be explaining the rules of the problem (if any) to each climber the same before they start

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          • Chris W February 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

            Thanks for the clarification, Ryan. As long as that information is clearly given in iso, then I am cool with it.

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          • Sound Check February 9, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

            Narc your comment is pretty much the jist of why this system takes some of the excitement out of comp climbing. If the announcers can’t hype up what is happening because the scoring system is too complex to compute realtime, I, the viewer at home, cannot get hyped.

            I think the real philosophical question here is who are these upper level climbing comps for: the climbers or the audience? It’s absurd to say that any other professional sport is played for the players, it’s played for the fans! I think climbing should be no different. If a point system takes away from the excitement of the audience because no one knows what’s going on, that system needs to change for the betterment of the sport.

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    • chris February 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

      It strikes me as both correct and absurd. Well spotted.

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  18. Jesse Bruni February 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Still doesn’t seem correct. If you are supposed to look at each individual boulder problem as a mini-competition then Daniel was consistently better in more “mini-competitions”.

    M1: Daniel and Jafari tie for first place. No points.

    M2: Daniel’s 2nd place > Jafari’s 7th place. Point Daniel.

    M3: Daniel’s 6th place Jafari’s 4th place. Point Daniel.

    That’s 2-1 in favor of Daniel Woods. The problem is getting these worse scores for ties than you would get for not tying in that position (i.e. getting 2.5 instead of 2 for tying for 2nd place). This is essentially saying “it’s better to come in second place alone, than to tie for second place”. That’s all well and good but it’s totally out of the competitor’s control. If all 7 guys had flashed a boulder problem we would say that it’s a setter fail correct? Why penalize the competitors for it? If they did not penalize people for having tied rankings then Daniel would have had (1*2*6*2) = 2.21 beating Jafari’s 4th root of (1*7*1*4) = 2.30.

    Incidentally, if they had made this one change (score for each problem equals ranking regardless of tie) all the other male competitors would have ended up in the same place except that Woods would be #1 and Jafari would be #2. This would eliminate the luck variable which penalizes the score of a competitor if another competitor ties with them.

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    • Jesse Bruni February 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

      Some how what I wrote got corrupted. Original was:

      M1: Daniel and Jafari tie for first place. No points.

      M2: Daniel’s 2nd place > Jafari’s 7th Place. Point Daniel.

      M3: Daniel’s 6th place Jafari’s 4th place. Point Daniel.

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      • Jesse Bruni February 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

        Nope, moderation doesn’t seem to like what I’m saying. It’s cutting out a line. Very weird. On male problem number 3 daniel wood’s 6th place finish is worse than jafari’s first place finish so jafari gets a point. On male problem number 4 daniel wood’s 2nd place finish is better than jafari’s 4th place finish so daniel gets a point. I’m not sure why this keeps getting erased when I press the reply button.

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  19. Smitty February 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    Bigtime fail on this convoluted scoring method. Completely illogical for any given climbers’ score to be affected by anothers’ performance other than Top/No Top and Flash/# of attempts. Governing body trying too hard? Or just unable to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid). Like another poster said above, in regards to the Canadian system… the beauty is in the simplicity of the system. Another fail includes the judges not making sure the climbers understood the rules for each problem. There are numerous examples of this including Woods wasting 3? attempts at problem 3 because he didn’t understand the start rules for the problem. With plenty of time between problem transitions the judges need to make sure the climbers understand what is required of them. Another fail is the routesetting fail of the M3 problem. Really? Multiple terrible monos with bad feet? This is an injury waiting to happen. Woods may or may not have tweaked a finger on the problem but regardless, irresponsible by the setters to open the door to obvious injury possibility. Another fail is the overly flashy video coverage. Overall LT11 did great but from a professional perspective they either tried too hard or made mistakes due to inexperience. Too many uneccessary camera switches led to a lot of screaming at the screen wondering why a dramatic moment on any given problem was cut away from only to show a completely pedestrian moment on another problem, or worse, an altogether empty problem. Again, K.I.S.S. Everyone watching was both undeniably entertained watching what looked overall like really fun, difficult problems to climb on; and simultaneously utterly confused about who was winning the comp. I thought there were 3 men who could win the comp on problem 4, and it turns out there were 5. You’re overshooting the mark of entertaining the crowd if the crowd has no idea what’s going on. Confuse ’em and lose ’em. Of course Puccio destroying everything she touches precluded the same problem for materializing on the women’s side of things but the same potential was there. I really enjoyed watching the unheralded Jafari and his strong, technical climbing style and the success it gave him. It’s also ironic that a lack of a clue how to crack climb prevented him from having any success on problem 4. If O’Rourke can wrap his head around technique there will be no stopping him. Wow has Puccio come a long way in the delicate technique department. Great overhead GoPro shots by LT11. Can’t wait for next year! Puccio looks good for number 10, but Daniel?

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  20. Matt February 9, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    Because there’s not enough scoring discussion, here’s my proposed scoring mechanism: each boulder is worth at most 25 points, and the scores are as follows:
    -25 Points – Flash
    -20 Points – Top
    -15 Points – High Point
    -8/n Points per Hold on a problem with n holds

    Tiebreaker:
    -# of maxes (high-points or tops)
    -# of attempts on maxes
    -# of total attempts

    Could someone concoct an unfair podium scenario given the above?

    I don’t think there’s an easy way to score the problems when you have 3 people with 2 tops and a fourth with a top and 3 “near-misses” as was the case this year, but this seems a hell of a lot simpler than the current system and it gives what I think is appropriate relative credit to the various outcomes for a problem.

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    • Justin February 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

      How do you account for attempts on equal high points with different number of tries?

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      • Matt February 9, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

        Not sure I follow. First thing to determine winner would be points (0-100). Then, if two people had the same point score, the one with more “maxes” wins. If both had the same number of “maxes”, then you would sum their attempts on these problems, with the lower one winning. The 8/n points only come into play if you don’t reach a problem’s high point (or don’t top it out if someone else did). If multiple people all fall in the same spot, then they all reached the same high point, which in the tiebreaker would count as a “max” in the same way as a top.

        If the number of attempts is also the same, you would sum their number of attempts across all problems. If two people had the same number of points, “maxes”, attempts on “maxes”, and attempts overall, I think you’d have to go into some sort of runoff scenario because that’s as close of an outcome as I can conceive (and perhaps the runoff should even occur before comparing attempts on non-“maxes”).

        Thinking more, by replacing 25, 20, 15, 8/n with 23, 19, 13, 29/4n, for reasonable lengths of boulders, you’d eliminate the tie scenarios other than identical performance and wouldn’t need a tiebreaker at all. On the other hand, you’d completely disregard attempts other than the flash/top distinction (which, to be honest, I actually prefer).

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        • Ryan February 9, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

          If you’re going to try to come up with new scoring methods, consider this;

          How will you explain it, simply, to someone who has never been climbing before. For climbing competitions to get serious financial support, it will need to come from outside of the climbing industry. How do you explain the scoring to the brand manager for Powerade? Or an advertising manager at Ford? Or the 55 year old chain-smoking woman who oversees the media planning/buying at (insert brand)’s advertising agency?

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  21. Chuck February 9, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    I just can’t figure out the hand jam problem. I get that the setters want to test a variety of skills but was it not the American BOULDERING Series. That last problem was such a bummer. Even traddies use tape…

    Sigh.

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  22. JP February 9, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    Scoring Idea (a variation similar to the one commenter Matt proposed)

    If each problem is equal in value, then scoring should be as simple as calculating how far you reached to the top, percentage-wise. So, each boulder problem is worth 100 points. If you get 90% of the way to the top – you get 90 points. Maybe flashes should be a 10% reward (110 points). Sum up your points and that’s your score. With this method, you can still supersede the “rank” by who has the most Tops and then use scores to help judge ties. A tie in Tops and Score could go to # of Attempts.

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  23. Sound Check February 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    Scrolling between the men’s and women’s podium pictures makes me laugh at the different levels of psych. Funny stuff!

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  24. not a xenophobe. February 9, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    Nobody would be having this discussion if it was Larson who won by a “technicality” over Woods, they would have bro-shrugged it out and went to have a beer. its cause some “outsider” won using it. Look in the mirror before you start judging. smh.. .

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    • Jesse Bruni February 10, 2015 at 10:38 am #

      It’s not that Mohammad Jafari won. That’s great, he’s a really good climber and his performance showed that he absolutely deserved to podium. The issue is that the scoring system is broken. The USA climbing rulebook says that each problem should be treated as it’s own mini competition. If you win more competitions, you should win the entire series. That’s how the World Cup works. That’s how the NBA and any other series works. By that logic, Daniel outperformed Jafari on 2/4 problems, and tied on a 3rd problem. Daniel won more mini-competitions, ergo Daniel should have won. If it was Larson that won, despite losing more “mini-competitions”, then the discussion would be the same.

      Not everything is about racism.

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    • Also not a xenophobe February 10, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

      Strongly disagree. Daniel was upset about the scoring and mentioned it, so we all looked into it and found out that the system was highly flawed. It doesn’t have anything to do with the winner being a foreign national. It has everything to do with a well known climber bringing a really messed up scoring system to our attention.

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    • Smitty February 10, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

      You’re really reaching here man. Inappropriate to say the least. All i’ve seen so far is praise for the way Jafari climbed, until your post that is. Maybe it’s you who should take a look in the mirror before you start judging.

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  25. Jonah February 10, 2015 at 12:41 am #

    Is there a way to voice our opinion about the new scoring system to USA Climbing?

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  26. Mike February 10, 2015 at 6:19 am #

    I completely understand the fractional ranking that they did for each boulder problem. What I don’t understand is why they calculated the final score the way they did. Shouldn’t they average the total points which would give the average rank instead of multiplying them all together and then taking the square root twice? Woods had the least amount of ranking points which would indicate he finished better overall

    Mohammad-14 rank points
    Woods- 13 rank points
    O’Rourke- 14.5

    How can Woods get the least points here but not win even after averaging(which makes sense)? I couldn’t find any sport that mathematically calculates the winners this way! If you add confusion to a sport it will only prevent its growth.

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    • Narc February 10, 2015 at 6:38 am #

      Apparebtly the IFSC uses this same math for their sport climbing scoring system

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    • ed February 10, 2015 at 9:41 am #

      It’s geometric vs arithmetic means. The geometric mean is basically the arithmetic mean of the logs of the ranks, which in this context means that placing last is punished less than placing first is rewarded.

      I don’t know why this is/should be desirable.

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  27. Dave February 10, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    In my opinion the deficiencies with this scoring system include:

    1.) A climber or spectator can’t figure out their score without using a spreadsheet. No one would watch basketball if the score wasn’t directly related to the numer of times the ball went through the hoop.

    2.) A climber’s score is not dependent on their performance, but on the performance of others.

    3.) If 2 climbers tie for tops, their tie is broken by the points which is dependent on climbers not involved in the tie.

    4.) In a 3 climb contest,
    climber A places 8th, 8th and 4th where points = (8x8x4)^(1/3) = 6.35
    climber B places 7th, 7th and 6th where points = (7x7x6)^(1/3) = 6.65

    climber A wins even though climber B beat climber A on 2 of the 3 climbs.

    I am on the fence about the importance of tops and whether they prove who is a better climber in a multi-problem competition. If climber A climbs 80% of each of 4 climbs and climber B tops 1 and climbs 20% of the other 3 who is the best climber. I would argue climer A even though he had fewer tops. On the flip side, it can be argued that the point of climbing is to get to the top.

    That said, tops are a very clear and easy to follow criteria so if it is decided that tops rule, i’m ok with it. A climber can check his score for the number of tops because he should know if he got to the top and whether or not he got to the top is between him and the wall.

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  28. Jeremy February 10, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    In isolation, at least for qualifiers, the new scoring system was barely touched on. All that was said essentially was that each boulder should be viewed as a separate competition. They definitely should have gone into the mechanisms in more detail.

    I don’t think the new scoring system changes the fundamental goal of the competition: get to the top of the boulders, climbing as many as and in the fewest goes possible. In an ideal setting, the competitors don’t know who got where on what, nor are they aware of their current ranking, so their goal should be simply to climb the problem presented to them. I do agree, however, that this system is poorly designed for spectators. Made for some good suspense, though 😉

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  29. Dalton February 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    I also don’t agree with the new scoring system because I think that the winner should be determined by which climber does the overall best on every problem and the new scoring system showed on Saturday night that you could be only the best at technical climbing and still win a comp with doing the best on the two technical problems but close to the worst on the two powerful boulder problems over someone who also had 2 tops and did better overall on all of the boulder problems. I understand why they changed the scoring system from last year because last year they first scored tops then high points, but the problem was if someone got high on a problem with 20 holds they would get a lot more points than someone who got high on a problem with only 8 holds so i think this scoring system I thought of that consists of a similar scoring system to last years but would get rid of this problem.
    You would first be scored by Tops, then Highpoints, then attempts to tops, and then attempts to high point just like the old scoring system but you would make every boulder problem worth 10 points and then divide 10 by the number of holds so if you had a boulder problem with 20 holds and got to the 10th hold you would get 5 points because each hold would be worth 0.5 points and then on a problem with 8 holds each hold would be worth 1.25 points so if you made it to the 4th hold you would also get 5 points for making it half way up a different boulder problem. I tested this system on the finals round in nationals and it showed to work well it put Daniel in first then Mohammad in second and kept all of the other men the same and then also in women’s it put Megan in 2nd place instead of Alex Johnson because after watching the comp it looked clear to me that Daniel woods took 1st and Megan Mascarenas took 2nd. I think the spectators should be able to usually tell who win after watching the comp and even more importantly the climbers should know and i think this scoring system would determine who the best overall climber is. Let me know if you could see any flaws with this system.

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    • Justin February 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

      Very similar to the idea I came up with. I used 20 as the base score rather than 10, with a 5 point bonus for tops. The theoretical high score for the comp with 4 flashes would be 100 points. I also reduce the available 20 points by 10% for each attempt but still give a 5 point bonus for topping regardless of attempts. This could be tinkered with a bit but I feel a flash should be worth more than a send 2nd try and my method takes care of that.

      Same idea though and I haven’t seen anything proposed that I like more. I wish I could apply it to some IFSC comps but I don’t have enough relevant data to come to any conclusions.

      Jafari topping M3 would still be formidable, however it was only an 8 hold problem so the competition still got around half way through it. His inability to get past hold 2 on a 13 hold problem would and I feel should be a bigger blow to his score than the other climbers not getting through hold 3 on an 8 hold problem.

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  30. Jack February 10, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    I think any scoring system should have the property that the relative ordering of climbers A and B should be independent of the performance of another climber C. It feels very counterintuitive when a scoring system allows this to happen, as it did here.

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  31. Ian February 11, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    If anyone is interested, Matt Wilder has a blog post which goes over the rational of the system used this year. He doesn’t say he agrees with it, but it does have some good qualities.

    http://mattwilderclimbing.blogspot.ca/2015/02/new-scoring-system-for-abs-nationals.html

    It seems to me like the finals this year really put a scoring system to the test, at least in the mens. It would be interesting to use the system from this year on past competitions, and see how it fares.

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