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Battle in the Bubble, a review

Posted on 17. May, 2010 by in News

This weekend I attended the Battle of the Bubble in Boulder, CO and for the first time in a while I was totally on the outside. It was great to see another group put together an event and I would like to give my professional opinion on the event, mostly from a route setting standpoint but also from an organizational one.
The competition took place on the shores of the Boulder Reservoir with the Front Range in wide view behind the wall. It was a great back drop, although the wall faced east, which left it back-lit. This detracted somewhat from the viewing until the sun set, but the lights did an adequate job of making the walls look enticing. There was ample room for spectators which was really nice, and the lawn behind the best seats gave some great perspective. This was certainly a strong point. One enormous bullet that was dodged was in regards to the weather. All weekend rained threatened. Luckily for the competitors, spectators and organizers, Saturday evening was dry. Had it rained there was no tarp or covering whatsoever and this could have been a major disaster. It’s hard to imagine rolling the dice on this aspect of the competition during the rainiest month in Colorado. But no harm no foul, and things looked good.
In regards to other factors of ambience here are some thoughts. The DJ was good and played mostly dub-step and modern hip-hop which went well with the climbing. In the beginning of the competition a skydiver came in with the starting hold for Men’s #2. I overheard one competitor say, “I paid $75 for that?” It arguably added to the excitement. The MC’s were enthusiastic, but there were several mistakes of competitors names, and often times they pumped themselves up as route setters and event organizers more than anything. The giant inflatable screen was great, and seemed to provide even better viewing of the action. This kind of thing is available effectively only outdoors. The graphics they had on the screen were awesome, a big step up in that regard. There was no clock, and this detracted from the competitors and the spectators.
One positive aspect of the event was the format, in terms of the elimination round. With out going into too many details, it was great to see the last two competitors battle it out, winner take all. One of the most difficult aspects of a comp is really determining a clear winner for the crowd. I think they did a very effective job at that, which is crucial to the success of the comp, and a great success on the part of the route setters. On the other hand, problems set on top of one another really detracted from the overall cleanliness of the appearance. Several competitors inadvertently touched holds on other routes. There was also an issue with setting a pink problem on top of an orange problem, which made it unclear as to which holds were exactly on, and I watched several climbers either step on, or almost step on, holds that were off route. It was unclear whether or not they were penalized for this. All of the holds were Climb-It, which have some great shapes and gave the routes a very consistent feel, but it also hurt the diversity of the problems. Often times, to compensate for short walls, the problems traversed near the top of the wall to get in more moves. On Men’s One, most of the competitors skipped the intended sequence, and there was nearly a serious injury when a male climber missed on a dyno and nearly crashed into a female climber. Again, nothing happened, but these are the kinds of things that can not only ruin the event, but can put a climber out of commission for a long time. Additionally, the padding was uneven and a broken leg or ankle can again have a very dramatic and negative effect. Many of the problems had stopper moves, and didn’t build in difficulty like they should for an event scored by hold. A final point of constructive criticism, the event was really slow. It took literally an hour to run the first ten competitors through the first problem and this left the spectators and the climbers freezing. There were things that could have easily been to cut down the event by an hour, minimally. As the night wore on, condensation formed on the pads and the climbers shoes were getting wet. The crown shrunk in size to about 1/3 of its original size when all was said and done. Those who did remain were treated to an awesome show. The Women’s last problem provided a dramatic finish for the event. It was awesome to watch Angie Payne and Alex Puccio battle it out, their contrasting styles were put on full display, and Alex eked out a victory. The Men’s final was less dramatic, as Daniel Woods was clearly stronger the Julian Bautista and it was just a matter of waiting for Daniel to figure out the end while Bautista sat on the sidelines.
All in all, a good event, certainly for the first of its kind. Most everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves, and most thought it was far too drawn out. The routes were pretty good, not perfect, and lacked some of the flair seen in the UBC or ABS (off hand I don’t recall any volumes, but there may have been one). It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and will climbers be psyched to do so many events? I really hope to see things pushed towards feeding our younger climbers toward the World Cup, which would in turn feed climbers to the Olympics someday. Until then, I will be enjoying myself at events like The Battle in the Bubble. Nice work everyone.

20 Responses to “Battle in the Bubble, a review”

  1. […] reviews of the event from people who attended are available at The Spot’s Blog, B3Bouldering and Mountains & Water.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments if you were at the […]

  2. Maxim

    17. May, 2010

    There was no ‘intended sequence’ for Men’s one, we knew multiple methods were equally viable and exciting. They were not skipping the sequence.

  3. peter beal

    17. May, 2010

    Jamie, some good points to consider for the next iteration. Certainly they got lucky with the weather.

    As i mentioned, I had to leave around 8 pm and I suggested they start earlier. Do you think a 10 person final is too many for 5 problems? It seems like a lot of climbing even with 3 mins per problem.

  4. B3

    17. May, 2010

    Fair enough Max, I heard otherwise but I’ll take your word. If the dyno was intended, or at least thought of, it seemed to put climbers at risk of colliding, as almost happened.

  5. paul r

    17. May, 2010

    i agree with you jamie, there were multiple times i was scared that the men and women could have collided which would have led to a painful ending.

  6. Narc

    17. May, 2010

    Jamie I’m wondering your opinion on how most of the men’s problems seemed to have at least one move that was basically a dyno (usually sideways)? It certainly made for exciting action when climbers fell but it seems to emphasize a very unnatural style of climbing.

  7. Markku

    17. May, 2010

    A couple of questions:
    (1) Why many of the Men’s problems ended to a huge dyno? Looks good, I know, but at the same time, like B3 said, it puts climbers at risk.
    (2) Boulder problems vs. boulderroutes. In my opinion, all the problems were too long as competitors needed to carry a chalk bag with them.

    A great comp, though!

  8. andreas

    17. May, 2010

    This might not be the correct place to post the question, but I was wondering how the conditions are around Colorado in this part of the year. I am particularly interested to know if it is possible to climb on “Power of 10”. You see, one of my friends have done this problem and suggested I should try it.
    Thanks for answers:)


  9. pootytaang

    18. May, 2010

    “There was no ‘intended sequence’ for Men’s one, we knew multiple methods were equally viable and exciting. They were not skipping the sequence.”


  10. B3

    18. May, 2010

    Again, in regard to the skipping sequence, I heard multiple forerunners tell me that was not the intended sequence. I trusted what they said. Regardless, the routes were set in a dangerous way and that was an oversight.

  11. campusman

    18. May, 2010

    what is important to remember is that nobody got hurt

    Jamie for president route setter

  12. ktmt

    19. May, 2010

    One other thing worth mentioning as a huge plus was the live Internet stream of this event. I watched the whole thing from afar. The coverage was well done with great camera work and perhaps more importantly, the feed actually stayed up throughout the comp. The vision to offer this event live on the Internet shows forward thinking on the organizers’ part and they deserve a lot of credit. Hopefully streaming will become common for all major comps.

  13. big poppa chossflail

    19. May, 2010

    have any of the problems been subsequently posted to youtube or vimeo?

  14. Climberism

    20. May, 2010

    The event was great on the feed, I only watched a bit of it but this is a great way to see events from afar. Thanks for the review!

  15. B3

    20. May, 2010

    @Narc The sideways dynos are great, but I think one per comp is enough. A good variety of movement is paramount for a number of reasone. I think one of the best parts about being a routesetter is trying to invent new movement, or at least giving someone like Alex Puccio the chance to show off why she is the best. I didn’t see a lot of really forward thinking movement. Sometimes that is due to hold selection, and I think the routes have suffered in a lot of recent comps due to hold companies sending insufficient holds for the setters, and that would go across organizations.

  16. B3

    20. May, 2010

    @Peter I prefer to see 6 or 8 climbers on the wall at one time. It seems to make for more excitement and moves along the comp more quickly.

  17. B3

    20. May, 2010

    @Andreas Power of Ten is probably in prime condition for next month or so.

  18. campusman

    21. May, 2010

    I wish Angie had done a heal hook on the last foot hold also.

    There is no way Alex could flash Ragged Edge also.

  19. Ange

    26. May, 2010

    Angie wishes she would have done a heel hook also.

  20. […] Wettkampf Battle in the bubble gibts einen Bericht von Jamie Emerson, von Peter Beal auch einen kleinen Videoteaser:   Und inzwischen auch ein Highlight-Reel (am […]

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