2018 CLIF Bar Open Lead and Speed Championships

On 23-25 March, 2018 Victoria hosted the 2018 CLIF Bar Open Lead and Speed Championships.  Climbers from around Australia flew down to compete for the top spot on the podium.

On Friday, the Open A competitors flocked to Hardrock Nunawading for the qualification round of lead.  In addition to the top Open A athletes, only the youth competitors eligible to compete in Open A were present as the Open and Youth Championships had been split into two events in 2017. The Youth Championships will be held from 11-13 May, 2018 in NSW.

Going into Semi-Finals for men there was a 5-way first place tie, including our very own James Kassay.  For the women there was an early favourite with Victoria’s Oceana Mackenzie out in front.

The day started early on Saturday with Semi-Finals.  Athletes arrived and headed directly into Isolation to prepare for the morning climbing session.

Competitors looked relaxed as Semi-Finals started.  Competitor after competitor tackled the Semi-Final routes until our final 8 were selected.  For the women, Victoria had strong representation with Oceana Mackenzie and Claire Kassay heading into finals in 1st and 2nd place respectively. In men’s, James Kassay was heading into finals in 1st with Matt Hoschke just missing out on a place in finals in 9th.

The Open A competitors had time to rest and recuperate while the Masters, Paraclimber and Open B categories entertained the crowds.  Representing Victoria, Hannah Xu came 2nd in Open B female with Roxana Gonzalez in 3rd.  While in Masters Dick Lodge came 2nd.

It was then back to Open A finals to see who would be the Australian National Champion for 2018.  There were two clear stand-outs in James Kassay and Oceania Mackenzie who blew the competition away to take out the title in their respective categories.

On Sunday, the Open A competitors headed to Gravity Worx to determine the Australian National Speed Champion.  In what seemed like a blink of the eye our champions were decided.  Oceana Mackenzie was the female champion and Ben Abel took home the male title with Victoria’s Ned Middlehurst coming in 2nd.

My personal highlight of the weekend was watching the two speed champions battle it out to see who was the fastest.  In a close race, Ben finished just ahead of Oceana with unofficial times of 9.9seconds and 10.5seconds respectively. This highlights how equitable this sport is for men and women.

Congratulations to all the competitors for their hard work and a massive thank you to all our volunteers.  We couldn’t run these events without our amazing community.

Thank you to Hardrock Nunawading and Gravity Worx for hosting the Championships and the sponsors Clif Bar, Victoria State Government, Edelrid and La Sportiva.

Head to the SCA Facebook page to replay the action and for photos of the event.

For full results, click here.