The Night Ashima Beat DWoods: Ring of Fire 2014


Now that I’ve finally picked my jaw up off the floor, I can sit down to recap last night’s Ring of Fire sport climbing competition finals at Central Rock Gym in Watertown, MA. OK, about the title, she didn’t EXACTLY beat Daniel Woods, but it was pretty amazing (I’ll explain below). First I have to say, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting for in an indoor ropes comp. The 50 foot, overhung lead wall that is the centerpiece of the CRG Watertown gym is the impressive stage, and the spectators can watch the action comfortably from two different levels in the gym. The lighting, music, and emceeing were all on point, the energy was high, and everyone was having a great time. And the setting! Wow. The setting was made for high drama, with big dynamics, weirdo clipping stances, knee bars, and fun inverted movements that had competitors hanging from their toes! So who rose to the top of this stacked competition? Read on to find out.

Coming into the night, there were ten male and ten female finalists. As you might know about Ring of Fire, it is a series of three competitions held at each of the Central Rock gyms. The first one was in in Glastonbury, CT on March 15th, the second was in Hadley, MA on April 12th and the finals were of course last night. Each winner from the first two rounds automatically gets a spot in finals. Of note, Sasha Digiulian did win the second round, however she did not attend last night, due to recuperation from a knee injury. She says on her Facebook page, “I have decided that given the condition of my knee, I will not compete in Boston this weekend at the third Ring of Fire. I only have 1 right knee and there will be many more competitions to go 100% at that it’s just not worth it for me. I look forward to going for my third Championship Ring next year.” So, while we were really excited to see Sasha and Delaney Miller, current SCS Nationals champ, face-off again this year, we’re glad to hear Sasha is taking good care of herself.  So, here’s how the evening began:

Female Male
Annalisa Flynn (1st place round 1) Kai Lightner (1st place round 1)
Meagan Martin Josh Levin (1st place round 2)
Delaney Miller Daniel Woods
Ashima Shiraishi Vasya Vorotnikov
Claire Buhrfeind Andy Lamb
Michaela Kirsch Rob D’Anastasio
Katie Lamb Brendan Mitchell
Lily Canavan Mike Foley
Bimini Horstmann Solomon Barth
Emily Varisco Josh Larson

With a mix of both world renown climbers, and local talent alike, the night was off to a great start. The women’s route started off fairly straight-forward, with the first 4 or 5 clips being cruised by all the women. Here’s Claire Buhrfeind moving onto the two crimps where things started to get tricky for the ladies:


 And then here’s Delaney Miller working the inverted movements that got her through the crux:


Both Ashima and Delaney flashed the women’s problem, and Claire Buhrfeind made the second highest point. So given that there was a tie for the women, the competition then moved into a Super Finals round, where Delaney and Ashima went head-to-head on the men’s problem. They added approximately 4 extra pieces to the wall, mostly foot chips, and I think 1 maybe 2 small intermediate hand holds, which they had to add in to make it fair for Delaney and Ashima, who are both much smaller than the men who climbed that same route. So for example, they added an extra chip in for Ashima so she could use the kneebar rest, because her shinbone is shorter than even tiny Delaney’s. But this is where excitement got to a fever pitch in the gym: Ashima climbed that route using maybe 1 or 2 of the additional foot chips they placed for her, reaching the same high point as the men’s winner (another young gun, 14-year-old Kai Lightner)! So essentially, this 13-year-old phenom out-climbed Daniel Woods, and Vasya Vorotnikov, two of the strongest climbers in the world AND she made it look easy! Just incredible. This was actually Ashima’s first ever ropes competition, and if this is any indication of what’s to come, we’d say the ropes comp circuit had better watch out!

In the end, here are the finals results:

Female Male
Ashima Shiraishi Kai Lightner
Delaney Miller Daniel Woods
Claire Buhrfeind Andy Lamb

Also, we can’t end this post without talking about Kai Lightner. First of all, I just have to say it, if there was a “cute-off” between Kai and Ashima, I’m not sure who would win. What was the first thing that Kai did when he was lowered off the finals route? He got a huge hug from his proud and smiling mom. I mean, really? It doesn’t get cuter. OK, so my gushing aside, Kai is also CRAZY strong. At age 14, he is already the same height as some of the adult males, and he’s a sinewy string bean. He made an, ahem, “interesting” (read: kinda dangerous) move in the very beginning of the men’s route. Rather than doing an inverted double knee bar like everyone else, he chose to bypass this move, and do something I’ve never seen, which was I guess you could call a “mono match”? Yes, that’s matching on a pocket with the index finger of each hand. Yep. That happened. He then went on to use those long limbs, and fantastic technique and strength to take the high point of the men’s climb. To give you a sense of the men’s route, here’s Ashima making the 4th clip, and you can see that tiny little pocket that Kai “mono matched” (“double mono-ed”?) down at the bottom:


All-in-all, it was a really memorable night, definitely the most exciting comp I’ve ever seen. Stay tuned for the highlight reel by local New England production company New Leaf Productions and photos that were actually taken on a actual camera (not an iPhone like mine) by Garrick Kwon (follow him on Facebook!). Congrats to all the competitors and to Central Rock Gym for putting on another great comp, we can’t wait for next year!

UPDATE: Here’s the official highlight reel!

Climb On!


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10 thoughts on “The Night Ashima Beat DWoods: Ring of Fire 2014

  1. rockman says:

    The girls had to climb the route maybe thirty minutes after climbing there own finals route. Watching them make big bursty moves was crazy. Adding a few holds wasn’t a big deal, but it still probably isn’t good to compare the girl/guy climbs. The guys had to onsite the route. After knowing they would climb the guy climb for superfinales the girls were allowed to watch the last 2 or 3 guys climb the route. Hard to compare an onsite of a 5.14 route set for D.Woods to flash attempts.

    After climbing there own 50 foot route, watching the girls make those moves was still amazing. The routesetters did good. We have to wait for scores to post but I am sure the top two men and women-funny saying that with Ashima and Kia- all fell at 4 different spots. Anyways hats off to the kids!

    • Missy says:

      Totally, I hear what you are saying. I’ll be honest, partly as a blogger I write titles to get people’s attention. It’s a dirty trick, I know. I think really what I could emphasize about watching Ashima climb this “super finals” route (or any route) is more about what a smart, agile, and strong climber she is, all on her own, regardless of comparison to anyone else. The way she did some of those moves was so artful and inspiring. SO if I can restate it, that’s really the point I was trying to make. Certainly not meaning to discredit or disrespect any other climber. It was an incredible night, and everyone did such a great job. Thanks for reading!


  2. v10Princess! says:

    OK MAY-B it’s not quite beating daniel woods (dream boat!) but really?!?! i think they (the setters) just added a couple feet so ashima could use the same kneebar the boys were playing with. so that’s totes fair. and yeah she saw him climb it, but she also got further on the route than him – so her flash was better than his onsight. and she’s 13. SO SICK!

  3. hootie says:

    i think that it’s pretty obvious to anyone literate enough to read this that daniel woods and ashima were not directly competing with one another. not only would that not be fair, but it wouldn’t be fun to watch. it is, however, extremely impressive that ashima and delaney were SO successful on the men’s finals route with very little modification. in a sense, ashima beat the pants off of daniel woods and everyone else there that night since she completely stole the show.

    thanks crushcrush for reporting on this so quickly after the comp!

  4. bieber4lyfe!!! says:

    In the pics, Ashima looks like she’s getting really strong. #jealous

  5. Jess says:

    Her name is Ashima – she’s a black belt in climbing
    Working for the city – she has to discipline her body –
    Cause she knows that it’s demanding to defeat these
    Evil machines – I know she can beat them –

    Oh Ashima
    They don’t believe me
    But you won’t let those
    Robots defeat me
    Oh Ashima
    They don’t believe me
    But you won’t let those
    Robots eat me

  6. Ralph Munn says:

    Nicely reported, Missy, and some GREAT photos from the night! I, too, was blown away by the apparent Changing of the Guard which we got to witness, with two barely-experienced youngsters walking past some of the country’s strongest competitors!

  7. […] annual Ring of Fire competition was last weekend, and Daniel Woods got beat by a thirteen year old girl.  (Okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s fun to say.) Check out the […]

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