Xiamen 2017 Lead semi’s
The Lead semi finals at Xiamen in 2017 were a masterclass in what can go wrong with a round at an outdoor competition.
The semi’s were originally scheduled to be held on the Saturday afternoon, forcing the lower ranked athletes to warm up before the announcement was made that the round was to be delayed till lunchtime the following day.
This decision proved to have massive ramifications for the event, as the forecast rain window moved forward, meaning the expected improved conditions were with us in the morning, rather than the afternoon as expected. I hope a lesson learned from this is to get the climbers there at the earliest opportunity following a rain delay to increase the odds of getting through a round.
The feedback had been that the organizers couldn’t arrange earlier shuttles from the hotel, but at the end of the day, if the climbers have put thousands of dollars up for the flights, accommodation etc then they will surely pay for a taxi to the event to get there earlier if required!
As it was, with gray skies threatening, the semi finals started at 12.30 with two superb routes. The women’s route especially looked set to balance the scores, separating the many tops we’d seen in qualifying on Saturday.
Then the rain came. Driven by the incessant winds, the rain soon drove onto the women’s route, causing a delay which was to become a cancellation of the round as the officials didn’t want to leave the climbers in isolation, and indeed they couldn’t as the Speed climbers had to gain access to the warm up wall before their round.
This meant that climbers who had tactically reserved energy from qualifying, or indeed made a single mistake were finished, their competition over.
The men’s route, on the more sheltered side of the wall was able to finish, albeit with a rain delay of their own, but the changing conditions hugely disadvantaged 8 or 10 climbers in the middle of the order, something you could see in the results, with some of the climbers coming out early making semi’s then climbers (more predictably) at the top of the order getting through.
Unfortunately as well, the setting of the men’s route meant there was a dangerous swing potential on the first crux, this was especially evident if the belaying wasn’t ideal. Canadian climber Elan Jonas Mcrae suffered a broken hand hitting the wall on this fall and two other climbers were lucky to escape injury.
Check out the below photos, feel free to to download any for social media use from https://circuit.smugmug.com/Xiamen-2017-Lead-Semis/