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Alex Puccio during the Arco Climbing World Championship 2011.
Photo by Giulio Malfer

Alex Puccio wins the Tierra Boulder Battle in Stockholm

16.04.2013 by Franz Schiassi

The American queen of bouldering Alex Puccio has won this year’s ladies-only boulder competition Stockholm, confirming her fitness for the Boulder World Cup. Matilda Söderlund placed second, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk third.

The invitation-based boulder competition organised by the Swedish outdoors clothing manufacturer Tierra was held once again at the Klättercentret of Telefonplan in Stockholm. Like last year’s edition, what we witnessed this past Saturday was a female-only event where six athletes were invited to set a boulder each on the comp wall of the prestigious Stockholm gym. After setting the problems, the six girls were allowed to work them for a couple of hours and then try and climb them in the fewest attempts possible during the actual competition. This year’s participant were locals Matilda Söderlund and Anja Hodann, Therese Johansen from Norway, Mélissa Le Nevé from France, Briton Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and the 2011 winner of the event, Alex Puccio.

The competition started at 20:00 sharp on Saturday night as the six athletes arrived at the venue. Commentary was also available in English through the increasingly experienced team of 24/7 TV which routinely follows the IFSC World Cup events. The first problem was the one set up by Anja Hodann, this included an interesting mantle and dihedral. All the competitors managed to send it on the first attempt except Matilda and Anja herself , who sent it “second go”, possibly due to some nervousness in front of their home crowd.

The second boulder was penned by Mélissa and turned out to be much harder, featuring a start with their backs to the wall and overhanging sections requiring flexibility and plenty of precise heel hooks. Mina and Alex were in fact the only ones to send it (first go) and were now in the lead. Mélissa herself was surprised by how pumpy her rather long problem felt, possibly a further testimony to the importance of focus and determination when it comes to climbing competitions.

Alex Puccio described her boulder, the third, as a problem that required power even though it was on a nigh vertical section of the wall. A dyno to a rather flat hold for the right hand turned out to be difficult for everybody (except for Puccio who sent her creation first go). While Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and Anja Hodann failed, Mélissa and Therese managed to get past that move once each, but without topping out. Matilda Söderlund, helped by her height, didn’t even need to cut her feet loose and managed to delight the Swedish crowd with a send on the last possible attempt.

The fourth boulder, courtesy of Therese Johansen, was more akin to a short route, with powerful smearing moves and a traverse. All bar Anja Hodann managed to send this, enabling the athletes to catch their breath.

Mina’s boulder, the fifth, was marked by a hard dyno to two unevenly placed slopers. We witnessed comfortable and controlled first- go tops by Puccio, Johansen and Söderlund and only a second go top by Mina, who ended up third after Matilda and the unstoppable Alex Puccio Finally, the last problem was a crimp-fest created by Matilda who sent it first go, just like Alex and Mélissa. The podium therefore resulted in Mina Leslie-Wujastyk third, Matilda Söderlund second and Alex Puccio, who climbed all boulders without a single fall, first.

The award's ceremony proved somewhat of a challenge, too as the podium had been placed on the competition mat and was therefore far from stable. As Alex tried to step on the top spot the podium tipped and she had to jump off, with the Swedish commentator quickly commenting “that’s the only way to make her fall tonight!”

As the competition moved on to the afterparty, we got in touch with Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and asked her a couple of questions:

Mina, how do you think this competition format (i.e. set your own boulders and practice them in advance) could benefit climbers of more or less all levels?
I think it is a great format for climbers from different backgrounds as it is less specific to competition. Working the problems is more like outside climbing and so the problems are harder and you get more of a sense of the climber's ability than just their capacity for flashing easier problems. It is really fun and less nerve wracking as you know what to expect from the climbs.

Have you learnt any specific lessons here in Stockholm that you might benefit from for other comps such as the WC?
I have learnt how much fun competitions can be and I have made some good friends which will make all the WCs more fun! There are climbing specific things also that I can work on in training, too.

The webcast will soon be available for replay or for download at the relevant 24/7 TV page: www.247.tv/climbing/tierra-boulder-battle-2013

by Franz Schiassi

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