North American Parkour Championship 2017

NAPC (North American Parkour Championships) hosted by  Sport Parkour League, is one of the largest and  most organized parkour competitions in the world. In attendance this year were a large number of international athletes coming from Great Britain, England, France, Singapore, US, and across Canada. The main competition held in Vancouver, Canada at Origins Parkour with qualifiers happening in larger cities around the US;  Boston, Denver, Orlando, Seattle, and finally an on-site qualifier in Vancouver.

NAPC has 3 events in which athletes can qualify and compete. Each event requires athletes to have different skillsets and be able to perform at a high level. The rules have evolved over the past 4 years the event was held but below are how each of the events were run and judged.

  • SKILLAthletes must demonstrate control, power, and adaptability to perform challenges they haven’t attempted before in a set timeframe with no practice attempts.
    • (onsite only): 1 hour to complete as many of 10 challenges as possible. Unlimited attempts.
      • Each athlete had a sheet in which one of the judges had to sign off when you successfully completed a skill.
    • Qualifier and Main Event Semi Finals: Each athlete has 2 minutes to complete 5 challenges
      • Unlimited attempts.
      • Participants get 1 point for each challenge completed
      • The fastest person to complete all 5 with the fastest time gets an additional point
      • These points carry on to the final round.
    • Qualifier and Main Event Finals:
      • 5 total attempts across 3 challenges.
      • No time limit.
      • 3 points for each challenge completed.
  • SPEED – Athletes test their ability to plan routes and execute with a single attempt to race the clock.
    • Athletes have limited practice time on the course the day prior and the day of.
    • There are two courses in which participants must start and stop their time by passing through laser timing gates.
    • There were no restrictions on routes as long as athletes stayed to the correct side of flags and no penalties for things like touching the ground, etc.
    • Podium was determined by a combination of ranking points as a primary metric and time as a secondary determining factor.Speed Qualifier Times
  • STYLE – Athletes demonstrate their ability to create, execute, and perform a series of skills in a cohesive run with a limited space.
    • Athletes have one attempt for each of 2 courses.
    • Athletes will be provided with a starting point and boundaries that they must stay within to create their line.
    • There was a recommended end point for both courses but athletes could end their run elsewhere by signaling to the judges with crossed arms that their run is completed.
    • Focus was towards short runs that were around 12 seconds long.
    • Judging:
      • There were 5 Judges who each provided an overall score out of 10.
      • Then the highest and lowest scores were dropped and the remaining 3 were averaged
      • They were to judge based on the following criteria with this being the order of importance: Connection Difficulty, Skill Difficulty, and Execution.
      • Rene Scavington of Sport Parkour League explained that the focus on connection difficulty is to emphasis the creation of more involved lines rather than being as focused on
      • The judges went through an intense day of judging as a group prior to the competition to make judging more consistent.
    • Top scores will then move on to the Big Trick round to finalize the podium
      • Big Trick could also be a combo but there were very strict rules about what qualified as a combo as opposed to just doing two moves.
      • Big Trick was judged based off of Connection Difficulty (if it was a combo), Overall Difficulty, Creativity (Both of the move and structural innovation), and Execution
        • Structural Innovation means that if they used a more unique or challenging environment to perform their move it would be scored higher than if the same trick were done with a simpler or less creative structure.
        • Score was determined the same with each averaging the middle 3 scores out of 10.

 

Renae Dambly Devil Drop. Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

Analysis

Here are some of my thoughts on the course design, judging criteria, and format of the competition.

  • SKILL
    • While there are few other competitions that have a skill format to compare against, in relation to previous year’s of this event this year’s format simplified judging and also required a wider skill vocabulary.
    • The 5 skills in two minutes is a new format that does a great job of handling something that has been debated with other skill competitions is should you get additional points or not for “flashing” the skill or completing it on your first attempt. With this format while you have unlimited attempts, it will penalize your time if your consistency isn’t as high as other athletes.
    • One of the biggest differences from this years competition is the lack of execution points. In the past based on how well the skill was completed each athlete would get up to 1 bonus point for clean execution of the skills. By removing this it helped to make judging less objective because it was simply whether a skill was completed or not
    • In addition, the new format involved a much broader range of skills than in the past because they did not all rely on having to stick the final precision. This year while there were a large number of precisions involved, we also saw a lache catch, pole cat, dyno, and other moves during the competition.
    • There was a new term used for criteria this year which was a “control landing.” This is similar to a precision but the athlete isn’t necessarily required to stick the landing. As long as they land controlled, they can step out or bounce out and still get completion points.
  • SPEED
    • 1st Course
      • The first course was the same as the second round of qualifiers so I ran the course. I thought that this course was relatively simple when it came to route planning.
      • A few of the biggest choices competitors had to make were:
        • Do they want to take the full drop which was around 12ft at the beginning of the run which is arguably the fastest, or take a safer route of a kong cat, or go around the first obstacle to take a smaller drop?
        • How to handle the two rails in the middle? scurry under or vault over the first?
    • 2nd Course
      • The second course was definitely trickier with both being a bit longer and having height factor more present.
      • Biggest choices they had to make:
        • Can they hit the high stride up and then still make it across the gap? (Both Max and Joe stumbled with the gap!)
        • Clear or bounce off the final rail at the finish?
    • I would say that compared to last year’s courses there was definitely less risk involved but I think that lead to tighter competition.
  • STYLE
    • I’m not as qualified for judging style so I don’t have as much insight here but I’ll do my best.
    • Overall I think the courses were good and the judging went well.
      • The courses each highlighted different skills and we didn’t really see much repetition of similar skills between the athletes
    • Judging:
      • I think the judging format is fairly balanced in that it removes the extremes.
      • From talking with Rene they prefer the overall scores as opposed to having each judge represent a specific judging category
        • In particular it made it difficult to account for Connection Difficulty
      • Every style competition judging is going to be objective but I believe that because they had practice together I think that it worked out well
      • It’s hard to say exactly how judging happened because we only saw the final scores
    • First Area:
      • This area include the bars a lot so it highlighted athletes bar skills and smaller space line creation
      • The starting point essentially required everyone to begin by utilizing a 4 ft wall in some way.
    • Second Area:
      • Longer lines were typical with this course because it went from top to bottom
      • Everyone used the same first couple of obstacles but the end points varied greatly
    • Big Trick:
      • I find this in particular hard to judge. The 3 top male competitors did skills that I don’t believe have been done in competition. I think at this level it is difficult to judge difficulty because they’re some of the toughest things that each of these athletes is working on. It’s unlikely to see any of them do one of the other competitors biggest trick because they were each so unique.

Onsite Qualifier

I (Seth Ruji) represented The Tribe, APK, and my gym Swift Movement Studio to compete in the SPEED and SKILL onsite qualifier this year in hopes of making it into the main competition.  For the SPEED qualifier each participant was given 5 minutes to practice and warm up on each course. I managed to secure the 2nd fastest time on the second qualifier round. However, due to a mis-step on my first speed round and a less than ideal route I was unable to make it through to the main event. The SKILL event however went much better for me. I blew through the first round being the first competitor to complete all 10 challenges. In the second round my weakness of laches bit me in the butt and thus I only completed 4/5 challenges. Myself and 4 other athletes (Ryen Keenan, Eric Moore, Robbie Griffith, and Tim Champion) went on to the final round in which I narrowly tied Eric Moore for 4th place.

Seth Lache

Seth Rujiraviriyapinyo of The Tribe. Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

Click the links below to watch the full onsite qualifiers:

Men’s On-Site Qualifier Results

Skill:

  1. Tim Champion (UK)
  2. Robbie Griffith (UK)
  3. Seth Rujiraviriyapinyo (U.S) and Eric Moor (UK)

Speed:

  1. Max Barker (UK)
  2. Robbie Griffith (UK)
  3. Luke Stones (UK)

Style:

  1. Bob Reese (U.S)
  2. Tyler Puterbaugh (U.S)
  3. Max Barker (UK)

Women’s On-Site Qualifier Results

  1. I unfortunately don’t have all of the women’s on-site results =( Please send me a message on instagram @sethjumps if you know who qualified!

Main Event

This year’s NAPC went very smooth with short transition times between events, quality livestreaming, clear rules, and from what I’ve heard an excellent analyst panel throughout the event. The event seems to be growing in popularity as well as in professionalism. I’ve been watching NAPC since 2013 and was in attendance for the first time last year. The judging, rules, and format have developed a ton since the first event but just as the sport grows this competition has been setting the standard for how competitions should be run. I do want to highlight that NAPC does provide equal opportunities to qualify and prizes for  both men and women’s divisions which is something that can’t be said of many parkour competitions. The venue was packed! Tickets were sold out prior to the event even starting!

During some morning training prior to the event I sprained my ankle and thus wasn’t able to perform very well. In spite of this I decided to still compete and did about as well as I expected still completing one of the skills. We all have to learn as athletes to respect our limits and unfortunately I was a bit overzealous and wanted to film a line with a skill I wasn’t fully confident with and it bit me in the butt. You can count on seeing me come back full force next year though!

Click the links below to watch the main event coverage:

Men’s Skill:

  1. Tim Champion (UK)
  2. Jimmy Perreira (U.S)
  3. Darryl Stingley (U.S)

Men’s skill was a close competition that in the finals round each athlete was only able to squeeze out completing one of the 3 skills. Darryl, Tim, and Jimmy used all 5 attempts to complete their skill. Jimmy took on the running stride to rail precision while Tim and Darryl battled a lache plyo cat back challenge. Each of the final 3 combined skills involved a large amount of power, commitment, and technique to be able to complete. The 3rd skill no one even attempted! It was a tricky kong plyo dive rail kong with a very tricky and limited run up.

Jimmy Perreira (left), Darryl Stingley (middle), Tim Champion (right). Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

Men’s Speed:

  1. Max Barker (UK)
  2. Joseph Henderson (UK)
  3. Davis Vasconcellos (U.S)

Joseph Henderson (left), Max Barker (center), Davis Vasconcellos (right). Click to view GIF

With so many top competitors speed was completely up in the air who would come out on top. It all came down to who was able to execute well and take advantage of the fastest routes. Each of these athletes had almost identical first rounds with the main difference being speed while in the second course there were a few more route options. Davis of Hub PTC in Boston has competed in several speed competitions came in very strong with very fast strides and solid technique but had a pretty bad stumble at the end of the second course. In spite of Joe undershooting a jump he still managed to squeeze into second by having a quick recovery time. And finally Max Barker of The Motus Projects who was one of the youngest competitors stole the show and blazed through both courses taking the gold.

Men’s Style:

  1. Joey Adrian (U.S)
  2. Nate Weston (U.S)
  3. Bob Reese (U.S)

Nate Weston (left), Joey Adrian (center), Bob Reese (right). Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

I unfortunately had to leave the event to catch my flight after the first round of the men’s style event so I don’t have a whole lot of insight. From the big trick portion of the event Bob did a 720 front, Nate did a side flip rail precision which he got on his 3rd and final attempt, and Joey wowed the crowd by stomping a kong gainer full on his first attempt! Joey’s reaction is something you don’t want to miss.

Women’s Skill:

  1. Renae Dambly (U.S)
  2. Sarah Wait (U.S)
  3. Lorena Abreu (U.S)

In Women’s skill it really came down to the 5 attempts at 3 challenges round. Lorena knocking out the big stride plyo cat, Sarah got the strides to lache stick and stride cat, and Renae completing all 3 challenges!

Sarah Wait (left), Renae Dambly (center), Lorena Abreu (right). Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

Women’s Speed:

  1. Sarah Wait (U.S)
  2. Renae Dambly (U.S)
  3. Kasia Kilajanek (U.S)

It was unbelievable seeing 3 APEX Denver athletes take a full sweep of the speed podium. Whatever is happening in Colorado absolutely shows with each athlete doing an excellent job with their runs showing no hesitation.

Kasia Kilajanek (left), Sara Wait (center), Renae Dambly (right). Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

Women’s Style:

  1. Kristine Dietrich (U.S) AND Renae Dambly (U.S)
  2. Lorena Abreu  (U.S)

Photo Courtesy of Steve Zavitz: Instagram: @SteveZavitz

Women’s style was a really tough comp with each athlete putting together some long lines and tough biggest tricks! They each packed in a large number of moves into their runs and had very unique lines that focused on their strengths. In the big trick round Lorena did a flyway front that we saw as a portion of her earlier runs. Kristine almost didn’t get points for her lache pre, cast back combo in the biggest trick portion due to hesitating between the skills. Renae did a devil drop which she easily landed but went for a second attempt to clean it up.

Conclusion

NAPC this year was one of my favorite competitions of the year again with getting to watch so many incredible athletes really challenge themselves to perform at the best of their ability. I can’t wait to see these athletes develop their skills throughout the year and come back next year. It’s always amazing to see so many athletes travel across the world to be able to participate in this event! It’s an incredible competition but it’s also always just a great to jam with friends from all around the world. I made a little video of my adventure and the competiton you can check out here: https://youtu.be/ucnhlmrbOgI

Next Year

Qualifiers typically start popping up in mid June so stay tuned for where next year’s qualifying events will be taking place and keep training hard! Thank you to everyone who is supporting this event and thanks to everyone at Sport Parkour League for putting together such a fun and professional event! Can’t wait for next year!