This weekend we saw the return of the Rab Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF), with competitors from all over the world making the journey to Sheffield to test themselves on world class boulders.
On the men's side of things, a particularly difficult semi-finals session saw perhaps the biggest upset of the weekend, with 2021 and 2022 overall World Cup Winner Yoshiyuki Ogata failing to make the final six. Other big names of the GB comp climbing scene past and present, Nathan Phillips, Billy Ridal, and Alex Waterhouse, also missed the cut.
Hamish McArthur finished the semi-finals on top as the only athlete to top three of the four boulders. He then carried this dominance through to the final, where he topped all four boulders, including the only top of boulder three.
The highlight of the evening, however, were his and Toby Roberts' performances on the fourth and final boulder, a boulder that had only three hand moves prior to matching - a dyno into an iron cross position, a move out wide into a two finger pocket, and finally a deep lock off into a shallow undercling.
It's a difficult boulder to describe, but a brilliant one to watch. You can see Roberts' successful attempt at 1:49:30 of the finals livestream at the bottom of the page.
Whilst McArthur was able to find a more static alternative sequence for the first two moves, Roberts was the only climber to stick the first move with the intended beta, and his top of the boulder was enough to win him second place. Jack MacDougall, just seventeen years old, rounded out the podium as the only other climber to top a boulder in the men's final.
There were perhaps fewer upsets in the women's semi-final, with last year's third place finisher Jenya Kazbekova qualifying in first place, alongside Olympian Alannah Yip and IFSC World Cup regular Chloé Caulier. Last year's finalist Holly Toothill, Erin McNeice, and Louise Flockhart completed the final six, whilst 2022 finalists Lucy Garlick and Zoë Peetermans missed out.
The women's final was a closer affair than the men's, with third, fourth, and fifth place finishers all having one top and three zones, their final positions ultimately coming down to attempts. Chloe Caulier's flash of boulder two was enough to secure third place, whilst Jenya Kazbekova's two tops were enough to improve on her third place finish from 2022 and move her up into second place.
However it was Erin McNeice who took the top spot. Her flashes of boulders one and two would have been enough to get the win, but her top of boulder four set her apart from the rest of the field.
A special mention for Louise Flockhart, who - despite coming in sixth place - was the only climber to reach the zone on each of the four boulders. Her second attempt on boulder three was the closest anyone came to topping it, and was one of the highlights of the final. You can see it at 1:27:40 of the final livestream, available at the bottom of the page.
There was far too much "He/She is smashing it/has smashed it" from the commentators, and twice the guy said that someone was really boning a hold. Weird.
I enjoyed it apart from that.
I'm sure climbing wall owners would be annoyed if anybody did that to their holds 🤣