Last weekend, Britain’s best boulderers headed to The Climbing Works in Sheffield to battle it out for the powerful crown of British Bouldering Champion. Alex Messenger reports.
Whilst the rest of the UK baked on the crags and the hills last weekend, the strongest climbers in Britain headed inside, to the Climbing Works, Sheffield. Their mission: two days of crimping, slapping, dynoing and gurning. For 48 hours, they would try to ignore the blazing sun outside, the soaring temperatures inside and their screaming fingertips to decide this year’s British Bouldering Champions.
Saturday was the qualification round. Over 70 climbers from across the UK fought their way through a testing set of problems to try for a place in the semi-finals on Sunday morning, after which the chosen 12 would compete in the finals.
The finals started just before half three on Sunday, in front of a packed crowd inside The Climbing Works, spectators in front of a giant screen at Cliffhanger and an eager online audience. Could bouldering strongman Dave Barrans defend his title against some tough competition, including 22-year-old James Garden?
The female competition was also set to be exciting: with current champion Shauna Coxsey away in China, competing to retain her current top ranking in the IFSC Boulder World Cup, the field was left wide open to contenders. Would former champion Leah Crane take the crown once more, following her wins in 2009 and 2010?
The finals ran in the new international format: one man and one woman stepping out to compete on each of their four problems at the same time. And, right from the start, it was clear that Dave Barrans didn’t just want to defend his title, he wanted to destroy any threats, he climbed smoothly and topped out every problem to give his third BBC win in a row.
“Dave showed why he is the best male competition climber in Britain by winning the BBCs for the third time this year,” explained BMC competitions officer Rob Adie.” He was looking very strong and confident in the finals, so let’s hope he can capitalise on this and do well in the final round of the World Cup in Laval, France, this weekend.”
“It felt great to defend my title and take three in a row (not many have done that!),” said Dave Barrans. “The problems throughout the rounds were good fun and well set. I was pleased to climb every problem in the competition, and I'm really looking forward to Laval next weekend and the World Championships in Munich at the end of August.”
The women’s category was more open, but very quickly Michaela Tracy became the one to beat and, despite strong performances from Charlotte Garden and Tara Hayes, she finished in a well-deserved first place.
“Michaela was the dominant force throughout the event and had clearly been training hard for this event, and the results spoke for themselves,” said Rob Adie.
This was the first time the BBCs had been held at The Climbing Works; they have previously been held in a giant marquee in a Sheffield park as part of the Cliffhanger Festival. Next year we hope the BBCs will be back as part of Cliffhanger, hopefully on a shiny new permanently-covered stage.
1. Dave Barrans
2. Matthew Cousins
3. Jonathon Partridge
1. Michaela Tracy
2. Charlotte Garden
3. Tara Hayes.
Download the full results
Thanks to The Climbing Works for hosting the event this year, and the BMC Official Suppliers - Entre-Prises UK, Five Finger Thing, DMM and Mammut.
WATCH: the 2014 finals replay on YouTube:
WATCH: the 2014 British Bouldering Championships on BMC TV:
Watch this and many more competition climbing films on BMC TV.
The final round of this year’s IFSC Boulder World Cup takes place in Laval, France, 27-28 June.
VIEW: a gallery of BBC 2014 photos on Facebook
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