Climbers put on a show at Utah Olympic Park
August 9, 2016
By the final round of Friday night's Psicobloc Masters competition at the Utah Olympic Park, Nathaniel Coleman, a Salt Lake City native, was exhausted.
To reach the finals, he'd already had to climb the 50-foot wall above the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool three times in head-to-head races, where the first to the top advances to the next round.
As he prepared for the finals against German climber Jan Hojer, Coleman, 19, stood under a heat lamp flexing his fingers to try to coax one last climb out of them.
"I'm trying to keep the joints moving," he said. "A lot of times up on that wall, you'll lose some feeling in your fingers, so I'm trying to get the blood flowing again and keep them warm."
The final showdown between Hojer, the No. 1 seed, and Coleman, the No. 2 seed, was dead-even through the first three-quarters of the climb.
With the top of the wall in sight, Coleman made his move, lunging for the top and grabbing onto the final ledge.
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Unfortunately for the Utah climber, he couldn't hang on and pull himself up. He plummeted 50 feet into the chilly waters below. Hojer made his way to the top of the wall shortly thereafter, claiming victory in the process.
Though he finished in second place, Coleman said he was thrilled with how the competition went.
"I'm glad that it was a good show," he said. "I thought it was a really good final race and I was psyched to be racing Jan. That's kind of what I was hoping for."
The long day of climbing was difficult for Coleman, but he said he made sure to save something for his race against Hojer.
"In the starting rounds, I try not to push it to my very limit," he said. "As it keeps going, I use more of the adrenaline and more of my reserves."
Coleman said the experience of climbing in front of a hometown crowd was something he'll never forget.
"It was awesome," he said. "There was a big crowd this year. I don't know how it compares to other years since this is my first year doing it, but it was really exciting."
Coleman stood shivering next to a heat lamp after the final race, which didn't end until almost 11 p.m. Friday night. He said the UOP pool had lost any heat it had built up during the warm, sunny day by that point.
"I don't think it's heated, so it just retains the heat from the day. It was pretty refreshing," he laughed. "It kind of feels good after you're done racing, though."
Utah climbers Ben Tresco (No. 12 seed) and Matt Fultz (No. 7 seed) both advanced to Friday's finals, too. Tresco lost in the first round to No. 5 seed Ben Hanna and Fultz was defeated by Coleman in the second round.
In the women's competition, Michaela Kiersch earned the No. 1 seed heading into Friday night and proved her seed right, advancing through the bracket and claiming the title over No. 2 seed Sidney Trinidad.
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