By Half A Move, Twice

In the past two world cup competitions I’ve missed the final round by a mere half a movement. Such is the nature of the game when competing at a high level but it still stings to think about it. I also try to think about the times I’ve been lucky this year including my double silver medal in China!

Two weeks ago was the last Boulder World Cup of the year held in Laval France. It marked the 8th boulder world cup of the year on the season and the 7th for me. Qualifiers were a nail biter for me as I still felt like I was recovering from the China weekend 4 days prior. Getting home from China was a nightmare with 7 hours of delays to my flights including landing at an alternate airport because no one could land at the one I was supposed to land at. Eventually I did get back to my home and had days of rest before heading to Laval.

As I said qualifiers were tense as I did 3 boulders in 5 tries. After watching my position fall lower and lower I was in 10th position in my group with only 10 competitors advancing to semi-finals.

I watched at least 4 other climbers climb multiple problems and if they topped it, they would knock me out. I didn’t climb well in qualifiers but it was still a stressful hour. By the end of the day, I would be the ONLY climber advancing to semis with only 3 boulders.

In semi-finals, I climbed well but fell off the final move of the first slab boulder. I did the other 3 boulders in 5 tries. That last move of the first boulder cost me my finals and to make finals you merely had to top the 4 boulders. It sucked to finish in 7th place, one out of finals but in the end I just couldn’t do that last move and it cost me. In Finals for the men would be Jan Hojer, Rustam Gelmanov and 4 French athletes. There was a lot of chatter about how so many French made it to finals but that’s not what this post is about.

I watched a pretty interesting finals for both men and women and in the end Rustam was the only man to send 4 boulders and Akiyo Noguchi sent the women’s 4th boulder to secure her victory. For the Overall it was also Akiyo who won and for the men it was Jan.

This past weekend was the 2nd lead world cup in Chamonix France and I had a good week to get back to lead training. It’s always the hardest in the first two weeks of lead training but the last training day before Chamonix I finally had my small breakthrough and felt confident doing my circuits. In China I knew I had gotten lucky and I felt like I would be able to climb more normally for my style here in Chamonix. Joining me in France would be Elan Jonas-Mcrae and Matthew Wellington for lead and Robert Stewart-Patterson for Speed.

The qualifiers went super well for me and by the end of that day I was in 2nd place. Unfortunately none of the other Canadian athletes made the semi-finals. Speed qualifiers were the second day and everyone felt like the holds just seemed better at this competition. In the qualifying round, I set a close to personal best with 9.11 (pb = 8.83) and Robert set his personal best of 6.80. The world records for both men and women were also achieved but unfortunately the wall didn’t pass the homologation so the times cannot be official and will not be written to the books.

Semi-finals for lead were Saturday morning and it was much warmer than during the qualifications. That’s a good thing because most people got frozen fingers during the qualification. After preview, we knew the route looked hard but we weren’t expecting what we got when we climbed it. I was 2nd to last out and the route was insanely hard right off the bat. Everyone move seemed hard and uncomfortable. I climbed up near half way before royally messing up a sequence and falling. The hard and annoying part was that I previewed it the “right” way, but chose to adapt my sequence while climbing and it turned out to be my failure. Here’s the live stream queued up to my start.

There were also another 7-8 competitors who made the same error as me so that made me feel better. I also found out a while later that while I was messing up the sequence, if I would have just faked a match and jumped towards the next hold, I would’ve gotten the “plus” and advanced to finals. That made me a bit sad but the thing was I wasn’t too tired when I was messing up the sequence. I thought I could reverse it and keep going. If I would’ve been really pumped, I would’ve just jumped for the next hold but instead I tried to do the movement and it cost me the finals. It’s unfortunate but that’s just the nature of competitions! This time I was unlucky but I still feel like I’m climbing very well so I’m pretty excited for the next world cup which is next week in Briancon!

 

 

My Double Podium Weekend

I knew before this weekend started that it was going to be one of the hardest I’d ever have to endure. To compete in 3 disciplines in one weekend is exhausting. I’ve done it 4 times before, but never in 3 days. Every other time I’ve done 3 disciplines, there’s been a rest day somewhere in the middle; here there was none. A lot of people wonder why I compete in all 3, if I don’t worry about being tired. Honestly, it’s because I love the challenge. Why shouldn’t I be able to do it?

I started my weekend with a 26 hour journey from Las Vegas. After a stop in LA, I took the longest flight of my life to Guangzhou, a 15 hour journey. Luckily I slept for almost 9 of those hours so the flight was actually quite easy. I made it to Haiyang later that day and got the bus to the venue. Technical meeting and a Chinese buffet was the end of that day.

The competition started on June 20th with double qualifications. Lead was in the morning and bouldering in the afternoon. It was nice to warm up for lead and compete in a harness, something I hadn’t done since Kranj at the end of 2013. I knew that this competition was going to be hard for me in lead as I’ve only trained for bouldering this year; I was going to be getting pumped and I knew I couldn’t stop to recover. I anticipated this and told myself never to stop climbing; don’t make errors and you’ll do fine.

The lead qualification went well; I topped my first route and fell high on my second. I qualified in 7th place going into to semi-finals which for the lead climbers wasn’t until the 3rd competition day.

Bouldering qualifiers were in the afternoon and they also went well. I was still warm from the morning so I did a few hard problems to get my fingers ready but was warm much quicker than usual. I did 3 of the boulders which put me in 8th spot, a nice position.

June 21st was the second competition day and reserved for the rest of Bouldering and all of Speed. The semi-finals were in the morning which was best case scenario for me. As the semi-finals are the hardest round, if I made it to finals I’d be stoked and if I didn’t at least I still had Speed and Lead!

By the end of the round, I had only done the first boulder. Judging by what I was feeling around me, I didn’t think it’d be enough. To my surprise anyone who completed one single boulder in semi-finals advanced to the final round. Dimitrii Sharafutdinov was the outsider in 7th place with 3 bonuses and no tops. The really bad part about this round was that boulders 2 and 3 weren’t completed and the final boulder was done by one lone person, Jan Hojer. Basically the semi-final round was on one boulder and if you completed it, you advanced…

I was stoked I made finals and knew the hardest part was behind me. I spent the next couple of hours staying warm but mostly jumping around for the Speed practice and qualification. I hadn’t done the Speed route since October of last year so I knew I’d be rusty. In my first qualification run, I had a time of 10.85 so I knew I could try for a much better time on my second run. I was so eager to get a better time that I ended up using my false start on my second run. After the false start I still had a great run and finished with a 9.35. As happy as I was with my sub 10 time, I still finished in 20th place, last among the men J.

Bouldering finals were next. Ever since my abysmal finals start in Hamilton; I’ve been much more relaxed in the rounds. Maybe it was really good to fail so hard on the first two boulders in Hamilton because it really made me enjoy my competitions so much more.

I was out 3rd for the men and always climbing with Austrian favourite Anna Stohr.

B1 looked straight forward enough. It started with a hard toe hook move and ended with a weird palming finish. The first two competitors hadn’t done it but I’m confident with toe hooks so I went out excited. On my first 3 tries, I’d complete the first move but fall on the second. I realized I was a bit too small to swing so on my 4th try I tried to static instead. To my surprise it held and I completed the second move. From there, I managed to keep it together and topped the boulder. Of the other 5 finalists only Jan managed to top the boulder with a flash.

B2 looked easier than the first but when I went out neither of the first two competitors had topped. I had a pretty hard time starting the boulder but every move just fell into place and slowly but surely I made my way up the boulder with a big dyno for the last hold! Jan didn’t flash the boulder, but sent it second go.

B3 was a mirror boulder; it had two different methods left and right. After previewing it, we deemed the right way was easier, plus the zone was out right. Again, no one before me did the boulder. I tried the boulder 4 times. The first 2 times were somewhat close, but then again not really. My last two tries were better than the first two but I was still too tired to do the move. By the end of this boulder, only Jan had even gotten the bonus and he also topped the problem.

Going into the 4th and final boulder I had 2 tops in 5 tries, Jan had 3 tops in 7 tries which meant I had to flash the final boulder to keep pressure on Jan. For the fourth boulder in a row, I went out and no one had done the boulder yet. It’s hard to put into words, so I’ll post the video below, but my first shot was the best, and it was pretty close… I knew I was on that boulder for the chance at a win, and I gave it my best shot.

By the time finals had finished, no one could complete the boulder. A few of us got to the last move, but we were unable to secure the elusive last hold. Jan had won his third world cup of the season and I had finished a solid second. In third place with a shocking score of only 2 bonuses was Guillaume Glairon-Mondet.

I had had a lot of fun in these finals even if the boulders were too hard. I felt like I was relaxed and was climbing well. Jan came out for the final boulder knowing he had won the comp. He still gave it his best and even scrubbed some holds for Shauna Coxsey on her fourth and final problem. On the women’s side, Akiyo Noguchi took another victory with Shauna in second and Anna Stohr coming third. Their problems were also quite hard and the podium was laid out in the first two boulders.

Full results for Men can be found HERE; full results for Women, HERE

For me, the competition wasn’t over; I still had at least one more route to climb. I’ll admit that after the finals, I was pretty tired. I needed to eat a big dinner and rest which is exactly what I did.

The next morning, I still felt pretty tired. What was cool is that as the day progressed I felt better and better. For the lead semi-finals, I didn’t even need to warm up very much. I knew that the first time I got really pumped would be on the route because if I did it during warm up, I was afraid of never getting UN-pumped before I had to climb…

I went out 20th for the men and felt good. The route was straight forward enough and there were a few sections that I thought were going to be hard. What surprised me the most was a hard move moving into the roof. I barely did the move and was almost falling every move after. Even in the “rest” in the roof, I couldn’t recover. I clipped and just kept going. I was just coming out of the roof and just lunged left for a triangle. I knew it would be good and I just needed to catch it. I barely caught it and I knew it was falling time, I quickly jumped at the next hold to secure the + but there was no way I was doing the next move. I came down as happy as ever, I had climbed in my opinion perfectly for what I could do at that moment.

A few minutes later, I found out how everyone else had done and I was sitting in 3rd place, not bad. I quickly ran how many more people were after me and concluded that only 1 person needed to fall below me, which was somewhat unlikely. Climber after climber passed my position and I steadily dropped in position. I was sitting in 8th spot with the last climber to come out, Ramonet from Spain. Just at the roof, he hesitated on a move and was basically stuck there for a good minute. He went back and forth trying to figure it out and eventually went for the move, but he was too tired. He fell in the roof and I knew I had snuck into finals… When one person falls and misses finals, it opens it up to someone else. In this case I was that lucky 8th spot.

The finals route suited me even more than the semis. I barely needed to warm up for finals and I mostly just did fingery stuff because it was mostly crimps. I was first out in finals with nothing to lose. I again climbed perfectly and fell when I knew I wasn’t going any further. I even fought really hard for two moves before falling with rocks for forearms. As I sailed down falling, I knew my weekend was over, no more climbing. I smiled and waved as much as I could. I knew I had climbed well, but I never imagined it would’ve landed me where I finished. I watched climber after climber make funny mistakes or not commit on moves.

Jakob beat me by a move but almost fell one below me. The biggest surprises were with both French competitors Gauthier Supper and Romain Desgranges who looked so solid on the first half. It wasn’t until they got to a really big move in the roof with no feet that they started to panic. They both fell in that sequence after having a hard time figuring out a good foot sequence. When I had gotten to that position, I just went with my instinct which was to campus with my feet up high.

By the end, my position slowly crept up and up with the last competitor falling and me securing my second silver medal of the weekend. This one was definitely unexpected. There is not a doubt in my mind that I got lucky with the lead portion of this competition and that many other competitors should’ve beat me. At the same time, I’ll admit that I didn’t make any errors and climbed perfectly for my ability right now. It’s just all part of the game, and I love playing games.

On the women’s side, Jain Kim started her season in perfect style with a convincing win while Magdelena Rock took the second Silver medal of her career. In third place and first time on a world cup podium was Anak Verhoeven.

Full results for Men can be found HERE; full results for Women, HERE