In a flash, climbers ascend the big wall |

In a flash, climbers ascend the big wall

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
SPT teva bouldering Hensley KA 06-08-08

VAIL, Colorado If you bent down to tie your shoe, you may have missed Brian Antheunisse climb 20 vertical feet. Twice.On Sunday at the speed bouldering competition at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Antheunisse made quick work of the climbing wall, and his opponents in the process. Antheunisse climbed the wall four times in less than 25 seconds combined.Im really psyched, Antheunisse said of his win. Ive never really won any kind of money during climbing competitions. Its definitely nice to have the first time be $1,000.In speed bouldering, opponents go head-to-head in a two-run, combined-time format. The time starts when climbers leave the mat and stops when they hit a sensor at the top of the wall. Competitors switch courses after the first run.On his final climb of the day, Antheunisse needed only 5.11 seconds to ascend the 20-foot wall at the base of Golden Peak.I knew I had to turn it on if I wanted to get first, the 16-year-old Antheunisse said. I had some (cuts) on my hand, and they werent feeling too good. I had to block out the pain and pull.Antheunisse, who like most competitors doesnt practice speed bouldering, is impressed by just how quickly climbers can move.It kind of amazes me, he said. I dont understand how its possible for human beings to move that fast up a wall.

Second-place finisher Joe Czerwinski wasnt exactly slow; he was only fractions of a second behind Antheunisse.Considering Im 34, have two kids and a full-time job, its good to be able to keep up with these young kids who have endless energy, Czerwinski said. Im pretty psyched for myself.While quickness certainly helps, there are a few other elements involved in speed bouldering.There is a little bit of luck, Czerwinski said. Anyone can have a little bobble. As we saw in the third-place race, there was 0.9 seconds between third and fourth. One bobble can put you on top or send you to the bottom.And, as womens winner Alex Puccio knows, strength helps in speed bouldering.If you are more powerful, you have a better chance because you can use your arms more to pull through, Puccio said.The holds in speed bouldering are easier to grab and closer together than in normal bouldering, which allows some competitors to move using only their arms.

Sundays contest was an all-American affair, with none of the European competitors from Saturdays World Cup event taking part.In Europe, they take speed a little more seriously, Antheunisse said. They have people who only train speed. The people who are here from other countries are good at difficulty climbing. Thats what matters for them.European speed climbing is different from what was on display Sunday.Its not a bouldering format. Here, there are no ropes or pads. In World Cup (speed climbing) you have a rope and the wall that is 40-60 feet tall, Antheunisse said.Czerwinski wishes that some of the European competitors joined in on Sundays event.Maybe I would have had an outside chance of beating those guys because they smoked me in the World Cup, he said. (Speed bouldering) is a totally different style. Bouldering is a lot about dynamic power. I like bouldering and speed climbing, and put them together, and its the best of both worlds.Puccio said speed bouldering isnt her favorite event, but the money is a good incentive to do it. Also, she said the event is easier to understand for those who may not be as well-versed in bouldering.Most people you talk to have no idea about climbing, and theyll say, Is it the fastest who wins? Well, one of the events is, Puccio said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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