2012 ABS Nationals Wrap-Up

2012 ABS Nationals Wrap-Up

It was about two weeks ago that I learned that last weekend’s ABS Nationals weren’t going to be broadcast online.  Up to that point I hadn’t planned on going for a number of reasons, but that news gave me no choice but to spring into action.  I quickly booked a flight1, and last Saturday I made a power move out to Colorado Springs for an exhausting 20 hours of ABS Nationals fun.  There’s a certain insanity involved in going through all that effort to watch other people climb fake rock climbs indoors, but I’d do it all over again next weekend if I could.

The comp itself lived up to all the expectations I had.  Seeing many of the country’s2 best climbers up close is always a treat and this comp was no exception.  In general the problems were entertaining, and despite the two favorites winning, the comp was anyone’s game as the competitors climbed on the last problem3.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t express some disappointment in the apparent step back being taken this year with regard to the cancellation of the live stream.  In my opinion last year’s ABS Nationals broadcast was far and away the best of the year.  In addition to great climbing, the broadcast had insightful commentary, and it seemed like competitive climbing in the U.S. was really taking a step in the right direction.  Unfortunately, this positive development was followed later in the year by the cancellation of the Summer OR comp and then the late notice this year of there being no live feed for ABS Nationals.  Fortunately, Alex Johnson stepped up to provide a rudimentary live feed and I did my best to provide as many updates as I could, but a comp the caliber of ABS Nationals really deserves something better.

ClimbingNarc Coverage4

Athlete Reaction

Shauna Coxsey:

I left the American National Bouldering Championships truly inspired by both the men and the women competitors and the loud, enthusiastic crowd that kept us going though finals. I hope we put on a good show! I have made so many new friends and I hope to return to America to explore the endless rock it has to offer and maybe (if my body can handle it) attempt some more of their truly unique competitions.

Sean McColl:

It feels good to write, even though this is the 3rd or 4th revision. I started by being mad at myself, then realizing that it’s all part of the game. There are going to be competitions where I climb pretty well, and don’t make the next round. I have to keep my head up and look to the future. In order to succeed, you must first fail, and that drive is what I think about while I train.

Greg Padovani:

The comp itself was following a new format, as there have been many complaints about the Hot Holds system that is was used for the past three years and is main format for IFSC Bouldering Comps.  USA Climbing came to a conclusion that for their comps the IFSC format did not differentiate scores well enough and believed that the scoring resulted in unfair placements. As a competitor I agree with USA Climbing about the clumping of scores but if the point of our Nationals is to determine the US Team, which will then go onward to compete at IFSC events, then we should be selecting based upon those that score best in the IFSC format.  It only makes sense for us to test our athletes on the IFSC format because that will be what they will be scored against in the coming months.

Media Round Up

Here is a sampling of some of the visual media out there from the comp.  If anyone knows of others just let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37627414 w=575]

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37569555 w=575]

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37568437 w=575]

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37559641 w=575]

  1. Yes, at my own expense.  Click an ad and buy something, why don’t you?
  2. And even some of the world’s
  3. With live scoring finally becoming a reality, the in-house experience was really exciting as it was pretty clear throughout where each competitor stood
  4. Big ups to Rock & Ice for being the only one of the climbing magazines to acknowledge my coverage in their recap
  5. Click through at your own risk.  Most of the links in the gallery are broken and even if they weren’t this is pretty much the least user friendly way to display a gallery of pictures.

Posted In: American Bouldering Series, Bouldering, Unified Bouldering Championships Pro Tour
Climbers: , ,


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12 Responses to 2012 ABS Nationals Wrap-Up

  1. Andrew March 2, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Can someone explain the difference between the “Hot Holds” format and the format that was used in this comp?

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    • Narc March 2, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      Hot Holds would be another term for the World Cup’s Zone Hold scoring system. That system only has two holds that count on a problem. 1 hold generally near the middle and then the finish hold. ABS Nationals returned this year to a system where each hold on a problem was scored. I tend to like the per hold scoring system better.

      More on the world cup scoring system here

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  2. Neal March 2, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Great job with the reporting, I know a couple of people here in Ireland/UK that kept an eye through your feed.
    Great point about last years live feed, it was one of the best I saw (including all of the World Cup events), pity it disappeared.

    Now, you’ll just have to put up some European-based adverts so we can support the site 🙂

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  3. vtew March 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Enjoyed the AJ feed and commentary for Open Nationals. Do you know of any live feed for Youth Nationals this weekend?

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    • Narc March 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      Don’t know of any, but last weekend proved that it wouldn’t take much work to get one going.

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  4. mark March 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Greg Padovani comment: The goal of most climbers is to win ABS nationals as very few compete in world cups. The ones that do, understand the strategy change for world cup scoring. The world cup format of taking only 6 climbers to finals and then having competitors climb the same problems in order should be scrapped also.

    The comp was too slow as competitors were taking there allotted time and resting between attempts. The five on, five off format with more competitors would be more exciting and broaden the field. Who knows what the results would be if the top 10 or 12 make finals.

    Bottom line, the world cup format has not advanced the sport, so why follow it.

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    • Aaron S March 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      Man, HD woulda been so clutch on the full footage of the final problems. Can’t see much!

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    • Narc March 6, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      The five on five off format is actually slower since the next climber can’t start climbing until the five minutes is up. The world cup format allots 5 minutes per climber but if they finish early the next climber starts right away.

      Adding more climbers to finals is definitely the wrong way to go in my opinion. Finals already takes a long time so if anything a format like Battle in the Bubble where climbers are eliminated after each of the finals problems until its a 1 on 1 competition on the last problem is a better way to go. Plus, more competitors means that multiple people would have to be climbing at the same time which makes things much harder to follow.

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      • mark March 6, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

        Check your math. At a 4 minute average to complete a turn, the comp would take 1:36:00 with 6 competitors in the current format. This comp lasted longer then that. With 10 climbers, 5 on 5 off, the comp would take 1:20:00, so it would be 15 minutes shorter. There would be way more action and less down time with no one climbing. Real time scoring would let you know where everyone is placed. Plus the field is deep enough to warrant the top 10 in each category having a legitimate shot at top 3.

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        • Narc March 7, 2012 at 5:53 am #

          Hmm, you have a point about the time. I’m still not sure that would make for a better show though as having 8 climbers on the wall at the same time makes it pretty hard to follow the action, even with live scoring. This would make a live broadcast (if there was one) harder too.

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          • mark March 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm #


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