In case you missed it, the 2017 US Bouldering Open Nationals were held February 3rd and 4th at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT.  All the competitors put on an amazing show that finished with Alex Puccio and Nathaniel Coleman taking top honors.  TrainingBeta’s own Neely Quinn was there along with Brian Runnels and Chris Weidner commentating for the live feed.  If you didn’t watch finals, it was a super exciting competition that featured some of the best in the business.  Do yourself a favor and check out the excellent full broadcast by Louder Than Eleven HERE.

However, if you don’t have a spare couple of hours to watch the show, here’s a transcript of the interviews Neely, Brian, and Chris did with the athletes.  Below are the transcripts of the interviews after finals with the champions Alex Puccio and Nathaniel Coleman.  Give them a read and if you are looking for more there is a link to the full transcript of all the interviews at the end of the post!

Alex Puccio- 2017 Bouldering Open National Championships Finals Interview:  

Brian Runnels: Hello again, Alex Puccio.

Alex Puccio: Hi!

Brian Runnels: How does it feel to be the ten time national champion?

Alex Puccio: I like that number better than nine

[laughs].

Brian Runnels: You were stuck on nine for almost two years.

Alex Puccio: I was, I get to live ten for a year. I have a whole year to hold that.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s a solid round number, congratulations.

Alex Puccio: It is- my lucky number is 11 though. It has been for years. My lucky
number is 11, so…

Neely Quinn: We know what’s going to happen next year then!

[laughter]

Alex Puccio: That would be awesome.

Neely Quinn: How did you feel out there today?

Alex Puccio: I felt mentally really good. I’ve been doing this thing recently where I put my headphones on and I don’t listen to how anyone is doing.

Neely Quinn: I saw you out there with those on. And that helps?

Alex Puccio: Yeah- I definitely- I don’t know. I used to like to hear how people are doing, but I think it would just play tricks on my mind. So this year, I was like- you know what, I’m just not going to do that. Even if I want to take my headphones off to know if they topped or not, I’d be like oh, okay, I know I have to do that, and that sucks. Then if they don’t top I think, they’re really strong, is it too hard? Can I do it?

Neely Quinn: So either way, it helped. This is the first year you’ve done that?

Alex Puccio: Yeah, this is the first year that I’ve done that. I did it in a few other competitions. And when I didn’t do the last boulder, I thought Ashima or someone before me would have done it. You can kind of see when they come back into isolation, but the last boulder, they stay out there. So I had no idea, I just knew it was hard. And I knew that we weren’t- you know, if a guy and a girl finish really quickly, then you’re going to go up, because it’s the four plus clock. So I had no idea, I just knew that everyone was kind of like…using their time.

Neely Quinn: What did you think about number four? It looked hard.

Alex Puccio: It was really cool- it was hard. It was really fun. I found the beta the second try, it was kind of a long boulder. Involved. The second try, I was just so pumped, I fell off and I was on the ground, like how much time do I have? They said 30 seconds, and I was like, oh no, I’m so pumped. I was really impressed that I even got back up there. If you could feel what I was feeling- you’re a sport climber- you know when you’re hands are just opening up? That was what was happening, and I was like, oh no! I had the perfect beta the second try at the top- left hand-

Neely Quinn: I saw you execute that, it was so smart.

Alex Puccio: You know when you go to something and your hand just melts, you don’t even stop. I couldn’t.  But if I found it that first try I’m pretty confident that I would have done it. When we were previewing the route with other girls, I said “I think this is the beta”. And they were like “I don’t think so”. And I said, “I think it is…” And they were like, “I think the last hold is a jug”. And I said “I don’t think it’s a jug, I think it’s kind of bad”. That’s the hard part, I’m learning, previewing with other people. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it makes you second guess. But I think ultimately, you have to really be smart about it and have your own intuitions and use those.

Brian Runnels: Ultimately it’s up to you to decide in the moment what’s going to work best for you.

Alex Puccio: I think I need to sport climb a little bit and I wouldn’t be as pumped maybe, after trying it again. I think that’s why I try and flash everything, because I know second try is going to be horrendous.

Neely Quinn: You going to try sport climbing?

Alex Puccio: I need to a little bit- I think for bouldering it helps. The boulders are really long here, and for the world cups they’re eight holds or something per boulder, and they can’t really exceed that. But here… our third boulder was really long too.

Brian Runnels: Yeah that was super strenuous looking.

Neely Quinn: There were a couple of those where you could actually rest for a while on them

Alex Puccio: We were all back there and we were like “Margo is still on the wall!”.

Neely Quinn: Oh you could tell.

Brian Runnels: What is going on out there?

Alex Puccio: We could hear- we can tell when they fall because they crowd goes “ohhh”.  You’re trying to wait and go, and so you’re trying to gauge your time because you have to be prepared, and we were like “I think she’s still on the wall”.

Neely Quinn: So are we going to see you at Lead Nationals?

Alex Puccio: I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s the same time as the Tri-State Championships- a big bouldering comp on the east coast. Scarpa, one of my main sponsors, is a main sponsor for that event. If it is the same time, I’ll be going to that one.

Neely Quinn: Well we’d love to see you there. What are your plans besides that? Are you going to go outside?

Alex Puccio: Yes. I’m going to start going outside a lot. I haven’t made definite plans, but I kind of want a loose year of deciding on the fly, if I’m psyched to go here or there and just see where it takes me. And do comps along the way if it lines up with my schedule.

Neely Quinn: Are you staying in Salt Lake, or are you going to move somewhere else?

Alex Puccio: Oh we’re staying here.

Brian Runnels: Alright Alex Puccio, congratulations, great to see you back on top with your tenth national championship. It sounds kind of good doesn’t it?

Alex Puccio: It does sound good.  This is my 12th time I’ve competed in Adult- that’s crazy.

Brian Runnels: Pretty strong record!

Brian Runnels: And most importantly, you have one more National Championship than Daniel Woods now, so you can remind him of that when you see him down on the floor out there.

Alex Puccio: And I’m the oldest by quite a bit in finals.

Brian Runnels: That’s strong.

Neely Quinn: By six years! Well congratulations again.

Brian Runnels: Congratulations Alex, you gotta go out there and collect some money.

Alex Puccio: It’s a good payday- I’m working hard for it.

Neely Quinn: You get both of them!

Brian Runnels: You’re the national champion as well, so…

Neely Quinn: Yeah you get to collect for both!

Alex Puccio: It’s a good payday. But I think winning this title actually meant more than the money itself, which is really cool. My mom cried- afterwards I hugged her and I started crying. Just thinking about it, I’m tearing up. I was like “Mom, stop it, you’re going to make me cry!”.

Neely Quinn: You should be proud too.

Alex Puccio: I am.

Brian Runnels: Alright, congratulations Alex, thanks for stopping by.

Alex Puccio: Thanks guys.

Nathaniel Coleman- 2017 Bouldering Open National Championships Finals Interview:

Brian Runnels: Nathaniel, incredible job.

Nathaniel Coleman: Thank you, hi everybody.

Chris Weidner: Yeah, welcome to the booth. That was amazing watching you flash all four of the finals problems. Really setting the scene, making us all think they’re easy, and then watching everybody else.

Nathaniel Coleman: Thank you, very much.

Chris Weidner: How did you do it?

Nathaniel Coleman: It was a mental state of going first in the running order. It’s a completely different game. You walk out, and you’re not worried about doing the wrong beta, and having everybody think you’re stupid or anything. You’re not worried about even topping, because you’re setting the bar.

Chris Weidner: That’s right, and what a bar you set.

Brian Runnels: How did you feel? We talked yesterday and you said you had a bit of a finger injury. It didn’t seem to slow you down at all this evening.

Nathaniel Coleman: Yeah I got incredibly lucky. The setting was really conducive to my style, there were no really heinous left hand crimps or anything. Yeah. I think I just got really lucky, or maybe the setters were favoring me a little bit [laughs].

Chris Weidner: I doubt that, but wow. You just seemed to explode on the scene here, and all that after barely making it into the finals, Nathaniel. What was the difference for you between the semi-final round just this morning, and the finals tonight?

Nathaniel Coleman: I think it was the style of problems that made it most, you know? I love doing dynos, I love coordination moves, so when I saw number 2 and 3, I walked back into ISO after preview, and I was just psyched. I was so excited. Then when 1 went so well, I just knew that I had good roads ahead of me. And the home crowd, man. That was unreal.

Brian Runnels: Really great crowd here this year.

Nathaniel Coleman: For sure.

Chris Weidner: And here we have Alex Puccio, on her final problem. She can secure a victory right now with a top of this problem.

Brian Runnels: This means everything for Alex Puccio right now.

Nathaniel Coleman: Come on Alex! That would be really cool to have a double local win, I think.

Brian Runnels: Oh yeah, right. Alex is out here in Salt Lake as well.

Chris Weidner: Yeah, absolutely a double Salt Lake representing- this could be for the win here if Alex Puccio makes this happen.

Brian Runnels: Just one move away from her tenth national championship.

Nathaniel Coleman: Yeah, come on!

Brian Runnels: We’re all rooting for Alex at this moment.

Chris Weidner: What a great moment it is!

Brian Runnels: And Alexi making moves on men’s 4 there as well. A lot of sports action right now at finals.

Chris Weidner: Incredible efforts.

Brian Runnels: There’s a top from Alexi.

Chris Weidner: And Alexi getting only the second top of that problem after Nathaniel Coleman here!

Nathaniel Coleman: And a stylish kneebar finish, that was a nice touch.

Chris Weidner: Heck yeah.

Nathaniel Coleman: I think one of the keys on that move up over the lip was you either had to stick the hold low and then bump so you could get your thumb around it, or just jump straight to the thumb.

Chris Weidner: And you just made these decisions right on the fly?

Nathaniel Coleman: Yeah.

Chris Weidner: That was amazing.

Nathaniel Coleman: Thank you, it was a good climbing session. I felt confident, and no hesitation really helps.

Chris Weidner: So good.

Brian Runnels: There’s Alex back on, pretty quickly.

Nathaniel Coleman: Props to the routesetters for giving two such viable betas. Ashima did this so much differently.

Brian Runnels: Yeah its been really cool to watch her make up her own sequences all weekend long here.

Nathaniel Coleman: Yeah [laughs].

Chris Weidner: I mean everything she’s done was unique.

Nathaniel Coleman: The potential to unlock crazy betas, with her flexibility, it’s like a whole different climber.

Brian Runnels: Such a different approach from Alex Puccio, we talked about it a lot yesterday. Ashima even acknowledged it, they just have such completely different styles. That’s what makes climbing such a beautiful sport.

Chris Weidner: Two different approaches, same result. What do you think, Nathaniel is going through Kai’s mind right now, as he quickly reviews this problem and is stepping up

Nathaniel Coleman: I’m not sure, I hope he’s not thinking about anything other than the climb. I know that we were back in ISO talking about who was leading, and what we had to do to beat each other out. I think he’s an experienced enough climber that he can shut all that out and just do his thing on the wall.

Chris Weidner: Nice.

Brian Runnels: Kai is likely on the podium already, but can solidify his second place finish here with a strong showing on this final problem.

Chris Weidner: Wow. Kai Lightner.

Nathaniel Coleman: Massive hands, he can pinch the bottom of that thing you know? Come on Kai. Classic sport climber.

Chris Weidner: Yeah, amazing right? Shaking out on the worst holds.

Brian Runnels: Did you even bring a chalk bag up there Nathaniel?

Nathaniel Coleman: I did, I didn’t use it [laughs].

Chris Weidner: Just for the crowds afterwards.

Nathaniel Coleman: That’s right.

Chris Weidner: Oh- Kai not making the flash.

Chris Weidner: Nathaniel, it was great to see you. We got some fun shots of you and your friends here, in the crowd right after you came down.

Nathaniel Coleman: Oh, I know!

Chris Weidner: It seems like you got a lot of love from your hometown crowd, your competitors, everybody.

Nathaniel Coleman: They’re fantastic man. I jumped off this final boulder, and I’m ecstatic that I did it, but I’m not thinking about if I won or not. And then I see my friends and they just bear hugged me and I know it’s happened. That’s when it’s real.

Chris Weidner: That’s really what climbing is all about.

Brian Runnels: Alright congratulations Nathaniel Coleman, our two time defending National Champion now. We’ll see you at the awards ceremony.

Chris Weidner: Yeah we’ll see you at the awards ceremony, thanks so much for joining us Nathaniel.

Nathaniel Coleman: Thank you guys!

More Interviews:

If you like what you read here, click through below for the full transcript of all the interviews.  The other athletes interviewed were Sierra Blair-Coyle, Maya Madere, Margo Hayes, Ashima Shiraishi, Daniel Woods, and Kai Lightner.

Whether you are a climbing competition fan or not, these climbers are our country’s best.  We can all learn from them and enjoy watching them compete to be crowned Bouldering National Champion!

Full Transcript: Bouldering Open Nationals Interviews

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(cover photo courtesy of lt11.com; photos courtesy of usaclimbing.org)

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