The United States won six gold medals, Canada's Zach Richardson stood atop the men's Bouldering podium and Danny Valencia of Ecuador clinched the men's Combined title in front of his home crowd at the 2018 PanAmerican Championship. Ecuador placed multiple athletes on the podiums during five days of high-level Bouldering, Lead, Speed and Combined climbing in Guayaquil. Argentina, Chile and Venezuela also claimed medals at the return of the PanAmerican Championship, previously held in 2012 in San Juan de los Morros, Venezuela.
The competition took place from November 22nd-26th, and Americans John Brosler and Piper Kelly opened the climbing on Thursday with unrivaled Speed. Six hundredths of a second separated Kelly and Andrea Rojas of Ecuador in the women's big final. Kelly recorded the fastest time of the day to take the victory, and Leslie Romero (VEN) joined them on the Speed podium. After falling in the opening round of the men's final, Brosler rebounded in subsequent races to surpass Ecuadorian medalists Valencia and Carlos Granja and recorded the fastest time among the men in the big final against Granja. Youth Olympians Alejandra Contreras (CHI) and Nickolaie Rivadeneira (ECU) just missed out on medals in Guayaquil.
Granja led the way in Bouldering qualifications the following day, the only athlete to top all five problems. In the spotlight at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last month, Valentina Aguado of Argentina continues to perform well at elite Sport Climbing events. Aguado and Kyra Condie (USA) were the sole women to top three problems on Friday and entered the 10-athlete Bouldering finals on Saturday as frontrunners.
Compatriots Sierra Blair-Coyle and Ashima Shiraishi (USA) started strong in the women's final, needing one attempt to top the first problem. Blair-Coyle kept the perfection across the second and third problems to earn a slim lead over Shiraishi by one top attempt. When no finalist topped the challenging fourth problem, Blair-Coyle sealed the victory by scoring a last zone point. Aguado edged Contreras for the bronze medal, requiring one less attempt to complete two tops. In the men's final, Richardson didn't back down after missing out on the first top. The 17-year-old was the only finalist to find a solution to the second problem and one of two athletes to complete the fourth problem, ending his round with a flash for the win. American teammates Palmer Larsen, Joseph Diaz and Rudolph Ruana took the next three places in the Bouldering results, scoring two tops and four zone points apiece.
Also 17 years old, Shiraishi was unstoppable in Lead qualifications and the 10-athlete finals on Sunday, topping every route she faced for the decisive victory. Ignacia Mellado Quinteros of Chile made her presence on the international stage known last week, climbing high on every route and falling just shy of the top in finals. Aguado also performed well in Lead finals to claim a second bronze medal. Kai Lightner (USA) added to his team's gold medal tally by topping both qualification routes and matching Valencia's high point in finals to place first. Ruana overcame an early fall on the first qualification route by topping the second route and climbing high in finals for the bronze medal.
The top six athletes competing in Bouldering, Lead and Speed qualified to compete in the Combined finals on Monday: Lightner, Ruana, Granja, Valencia, Brosler and Cesar Grosso (BRA) for the men; Aguado, Contreras, Rojas, Mellado Quinteros, Condie and Romero for the women. Speed played a decisive factor in the grand finale. Brosler and Rojas gained an early advantage by winning every race, including the big final against Granja and Romero which earned them third place on the Combined podium in the end. The small final played a decisive factor in first and second place as well. Lightner flashed all four Bouldering problems, but Valencia's quicker top on the Lead wall and victory in the small final against Lightner crowned him PanAmerican Champion in the Combined. Aguado topped quickest on the women's Lead route, but Condie's top of the final Bouldering problem and victory in the small final against Aguado handed her the women's Combined title and the United States a 6th gold medal.