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D’Anastasio, Puccio fastest on rocks

Ian Cropp
Kathy Lippert/Vail Daily Rob D'Anastasio climbs his way to first place in the men's speed bouldering finals Sunday at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail.
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VAIL – Rob D’Anastasio may not have a jet or a fighter jacket, but he’s got a pair of aviator sunglasses. And sub-sonic speed on the bouldering course.

D’Anastasio sported his sunglasses as he blazed through the competition at the speed bouldering event of the Teva Mountain Games Sunday.

“I started getting more pumped and excited as the competition went on,” D’Anastasio said. “I didn’t expect to do as well. This is my first speed climbing competition.”

And as the competition went on, D’Anastasio kept getting faster. In the semifinals, D’Anastasio knocked off third-place finisher Daniel Woods with two sub-11-second runs. Then in the finals, D’Anastasio had the fastest combined time on the day (20.41 for two runs) in his defeat of Sean Drolet).

“There was only one change I made as far as my foot and hand movements went,” D’Anastasio said. “I moved my foot lower so I could get some extra push and keep momentum up. You start to get a little muscle memory.”

In both the semifinals and finals, competitors went head-to-head in a best-of-two series, alternating between the two different course sets.

After the first run of the finals, Drolet trailed D’Anastasio by only 0.27 seconds. Drolet got a quick start on his second run, but his hand slipped on a hold midway through.

“I felt it go when I hit that hold and it slipped off,” Drolet said. “It hurt bad, but I wanted to finish up (the run).”

wasn’t until Drolet hit the ground that he noticed a huge flap of skin had ripped open on his hand. Drolet then walked back to the hold where he slipped and caught a glimpse of a red patch the size of his cut.

“There was definitely blood,” Drolet said.

Woods beat Nick Sherman in the third-place matchup, giving Woods his second top-3 finish of the Games, and Sherman his second top-4 finish.

Puccio goes gold again

Alex Puccio may not need a summer job after this weekend’s performance. Puccio earned her second gold of the Games with a top finish in the women’s speed bouldering.

“I got a lot of cash. I wish it was every weekend,” Puccio said of racking in $2,200 in two days. “I’m going to be saving my money for college, or maybe a car.”

Puccio beat Paige Claassen in the finals with a combined time of just under 30 seconds.

“I know I’m naturally good at speed climbing, but I knew there was tough competition here,” said Puccio, who competed in a speed event for the first time since last summer. “Paige is really fast.”

Claassen has never competed in a speed before.

“It got easier as I went on,” Claassen said. “I wasn’t expecting anything, so I didn’t have any pressure.”

Both Puccio and Claassen felt the key to their success wasn’t sheer speed.

“You have to flow,” Puccio said. “Flow the moves. You can’t stop. If you stall, every half-second counts. You want to keep a good mind and relax. If you get too jittery and get out of control, you’ll mess up and fall.”

“I worked on getting the moves down (in practice) and making it smooth,” Claassen said. “It’s not so much trying to be fast, (but) just trying to be smooth. That makes you fast.”

Claassen defeated Kasia Pietras in her semifinal match, while Puccio defeated Angela Payne. Pietras took third place.

Superman

Michael Auldridge really can fly like superman. Auldridge jumped the height of small buildings, and with style, to win the dyno bouldering competition.

After Auldridge pulled a double superman on his first dyno in the finals, he fell on his second. Before he took to the air on his third and final attempt, he made a Hulk Hogan gesture to the audience, tempting them to make some noise.

“I try to get the crowd involved, it pumps you up a bit,” said Auldridge, who took his second straight dyno crown at the Games. “I fell on the second, so it was all or nothing, and I went for it.”

Clark Kent, er, Auldridge, started with a one-handed superman, and then nailed a 360. On his descent to the crash pad, Auldridge pulled another 360.

While Auldridge’s first dyno may not have been as crowd appealing as his second, it was technically more difficult.

“It was hard because the hole is facing the wrong way you’re swinging off,” Auldridge said. “It’s a lot of force on your arms.”

Ethan Pringle also pulled the superman to 360, along with two other solid dynos, and took second. (Climbers were judged on their best two dynos.)

“I’d prefer if the (dynos) were rated on how hard they were, and there weren’t style points,” said Pringle. “(Dyno) is one of my favorite things, doing the dynamic movements.”

Drolet, who took sixth in the event, had one of the more impressive dynos know as a Ralston, in which a climber uses only one hand from start to finish.

“I wanted to come out and do it,” Drolet said. “I hadn’t done it in practice.”

Pietras took first in the women’s dyno. On her final dyno, Pietras went back to the same sequence that she completed on her first try. Pietras landed her first jump with one hand and quickly reached for the second grab. Then, in what looked liked an instant replay, Pietras immediately bounced back to the first grab for a “return to sender” move.

“The first time I attempted it, I wasn’t thinking about going back, but the second time … I was fully prepared to go back,” Pietras said. “I just thought I had to go back right away, and I did.”

Natasha Barnes, who took second, also pulled a smooth return to sender on her last dyno. The dyno started with a one-handed superman.

And at only 12-years-old, Cicada Jenerik took fifth with several fluid dynos.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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