Natalia Grossman won the gold medal and her Olympic ticket last night in Santiago ahead of teammate and friend Brooke Raboutou.
Natalia became the fourth American to win an Olympic ticket at the Pan American Games after Piper Kelly and Samuel Watson won in Speed, and Jesse Grupper won in the Men’s Boulder&Lead event on Monday.
Natalia’s win was due to her strong boulder round, where she had a 15-point buffer over Brooke going into the Lead portion. She needed 88 points to win outright, and she got them. Natalia won the competition, and the Olympic Ticket before she touched the ground.
How it Happened
All the Americans, Brooke Raboutou, Natalia Grossman and Annie Sanders, and the Canadians, Alannah Yip, Indiana Chapman and Becca Frangos, made it into the final.
Alejandra Contreras from Chile and Valentina Aguado from Argentina also reached the final.
Brooke and Natalia were only separated by 0.1 points in the semi-final, a single attempt in the Boulder round. The semi-round for the women had even less coverage than the men. While the boulder round was available on CBC, the lead round had no coverage.
Natalia Grossman tops the Boulder Round
Boulder 1 was a coordination boulder with 3 dynamic sections like the Mens in the final. The first section was a hop over to the low zone. The second is a large paddle dyno to the high zone. The last section finished with another paddle to the top hold, with athletes needing to stick out their left foot to stop the rotation.
Only Natalia and Alannah would top the boulder. Brooke got very close but kept span off three times, going for the top hold.
The second boulder in the roof on the right-hand side of the wall was the easiest of the round. Everyone topped it, and Valentina Aguado, Natalia Grossman and Brooke Raboutou flashed it.
The athletes start facing out and jump to a large macro with a twist in the air. The top section revolves around a knee bar between two volumes to navigate the holds to the top.
The third boulder was on the slab, which many struggled on. The start required the athletes to run to the starting position and then navigate a series of sloping volumes for feet and footholds for hands. The final move required a committing jump to the top hold. Only Natalia and Brooke would get to the second zone and top the boulder, each flashing it. No one else would get beyond the low zone.
The fourth boulder was the most powerful of the four and was on the steepest section of the wall. It started with a jump into an iron cross, then a powerful action to the left to the high zone. Then, a bump right to an undercut before the finishing moves on two slopers with white jibs to make them good enough to hold.
Only Alannah, Natalia and Brooke would get beyond the first move and secure both zones. Brooke and Natalia would both tickle the top hold before sliding off. Brooke bumped up with her left hand but went too far. Natalia tried crossing over with her right hand but didn’t reach far enough.
Natalia led the field going into the lead round with a score of 84.3 points, 14.9 points ahead of Brooke on 69.4 and Alannah on 64.7 points.
Brooke Raboutou was highest in Lead, but it was not enough
As Becca Frangos started climbing on the lead route, the floodlights started flashing on and off. Despite this, Becca continued to climb. Around the 30-point mark, the light cut out, and she climbed in darkness until she fell just below the headwall. She told the judge afterwards that she “didn’t even notice” the light cutting out.
Early on, Valentina and Indiana made it into the third section of the route. The Chilean crowd cheered Alejandra up the route up to the crux one hold before the final section of the route.
Annie Sanders was the first to reach the headwall. She kept going, falling 6 holds from the top, scoring 76.1 points, and moving into first place with three athletes left to climb.
Alannah Yip would also reach the headwall but would fall as she tried to move onto the headwall. Along with her strong boulder performance, Alannah was guaranteed a medal as she moved ahead of Annie Sanders into first with two climbers left.
Natalia Grossman needed 88 points or more to win the competition due to her lead from the Boulder round. She slipped near the top of the red section but stopped herself from falling. She regained her composure and rested before the headwall.
She continued to the headwall, reaching the hold worth 88 points four holds from the top and fell going for the next one. This score was enough for her to win the gold medal and her Olympic ticket before she reached the ground.
But she did not know she had won and moved over to join the other athletes.
Brooke Raboutou did not know that Natalia had done enough to win. She climbed smoothly and in control.Brooke reached the headwall and still looked unfazed.
She reached the penultimate hold at full stretch but could not get a foot up to launch for the top hold. She scored 96 points, enough for the silver medal but not for gold.
After the podium, Natalia Grossman said, “I feel just so grateful and proud of all the work I have put in. I changed a lot in this past couple of months, in my climbing and in my life, and to see it pay off feels really good.”
She finished by talking about the moments right after her Lead climb: “My friend Oscar was holding his finger up, like, ‘First!’, and I almost didn’t believe it. I wanted to wait until I saw it, just because people tend to say things before they happen… it was a very surreal moment!”
- Natalia Grossman - 172.4 Points
- Brooke Raboutou - 165.4 points
- Alannah Yip - 128.7 points