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WOMEN’S DIFFICULTY EVENT ENDS IN TIE, FORCING CLIMB-OFF

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Two women climbers tied Saturday in the difficulty competition of the U.S. Climbing Championships and will meet in a climb-off at 11 a.m. today.

Bobbie Bensman and Alison Osius, both of Colorado, made it to the top of the 115-foot high wall on the south face of the Cliff Lodge, forcing the tiebreaker climb.In the men's speed climbing, Hans Florine of Moraga, Calif., scaled the wall in under a minute to beat Rob Woolf of Lafayette, Calif., who was several holds back when the end came.

A short time later, in the women's speed climb, a flurry of disqualifications resulted in a race between the favorites, but not for first place. Sally Bartunek of Los Angeles became the winner on her semifinal climb when both climbers in the second bracket were disqualified.

In a climb-off for third, Diane Russell of Santa Cruz posted the fastest time while runner-up Nancy Prichard of Boulder had the second-best time. In their semifinal climbs, Prichard lost her hold and fell away from the wall and Russell grabbed her safety rope, both rules infractions.

The main event of the day was the women's difficulty climb on the south-facing wall, complete with 10-foot overhang and smaller and more widely spaced holds.

Bensman of Boulder, the winner of the last two events, was the eighth of 10 climbers on the wall and the first to hit the top. It was "A fun climb," she said. "It kept me thinking the whole time. I'd say it was the best competitive route I've climbed this year."

Osius, of Aspen, a writer for "Climbing Magazine," was next on the wall and the second to make the top. She also enjoyed the route and said that it was a course that made her "think and keep thinking."

Once the hand/foot holds, of various sizes and shapes, are placed on the wall, climbers are not allowed to inspect the course until they climb. There is, as one climber said, no time to plan. "You have to think ahead as you climb."

Bensman said she felt smooth and relaxed on her climb.

"The only problem I had was on a long reach up near the overhang. Aside from that I had no problems. I cut my finger, though, and that means I'll have to climb with tape tomorrow. I don't like that."

Osius said her only problem came near the top when she faced the choice of going right or left. She later learned that the climbers who had made it that far and gone left had fallen.

"I chose right because with my arm span I felt it was better for me. It worked out," she said.

None of the local climbers made it into the women's difficulty event or either of the speed events.

In the men's difficulty climb, which will follow the women's climb-off today, one local competitor - Boone Speed of Salt Lake City - qualified. Speed will be the first climber on the wall. Of the 15 male climbers, six are from California and five from Colorado.

Also today, the REI Mountain Bike race will be held on the trails and roads around Snowbird.

Both events are open to the public. There is a fee to enter the bike race, but viewing the climbing events is free.

Also at Snowbird is the Outdoor Expo, featuring everything from climbing equipment to a fly-tying exhibit.