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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Hamilton Finals

Qualification and Semi final recap can be found HERE.

As I stepped into finals isolation, I felt strong. I was still warm from the semi-final round. In between the two rounds, I had gotten something to eat, relaxed and played an online game with my cousin back in Vancouver. It was nice to just relax and get away from the competition for a bit. Now it was time to get back into the competition, I still had 4 boulder problems to do.

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Soon enough, we were all warmed up heading out for presentation and observation. Being the lone Canadian in finals, I have to admit the cheers for me were maybe the biggest, at least among the men. We previewed the 4 boulders and they looked interesting. The first one was a slab corner with a dyno. The second one looked like a normal boulder. The third one was the strangest. It was a roof problem into a mantle. The roof was mainly just pressing out with your hands and looked a bit uncomfortable. The 4th and last boulder looked the best. Some crimps at the beginning, then some campusing and an easy top.

After digesting the 4 boulders, we started on boulder one. I was 5th out and got to climb the round with Shauna Coxsey from Great Britain. We had also climbed together in semi-finals and I had done pretty well. Among the girls, she gets a lot of love from the crowd, so I imagined that us climbing together could really generate some noise.

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Of the first four men, no one had done the boulder. I came out and was pretty eager. I started reverse and had some trouble standing up. Once I was there, I flashed bonus but fell on the dyno. The second time I started the boulder the stand-up was painfully easy. The dyno was still the crux move for me. I got there another handful of times and was so so close. My last two tries were the best and I was mere millimetres away from sticking the jump. Jan Hojer who climbed just after me was the only male to complete boulder one.

On boulder two, I could tell that most of them had done the boulder with the exception of Rustam Gelmanov; I went out knowing it was possible. I spent most of time figuring out how to do the first move. What bugged me the most about the problem was that it seemed so much easier if you were tall. I try to forget about it and just focus on the boulder. Eventually I stuck the first move and fell on the next. From there I knew how to do the first move, it was a sort of double dyno. I waited for my last attempt and went. I stuck the first move and knew it would be my last try. I stuck the weird foot movement and moved into the big feature that was bonus. From there, there wasn’t a lot keeping me on the wall. You couldn’t really grab the holds, and the next one was a feature pinch. I moved my heel to a toe and the next one looked far. I had to jump for it but when I jumped I knew I wasn’t going to stick it. I tried my best but slowly slipped off. I was devastated; I knew no one else who got there had fallen. I could feel the anger setting in as I ran the numbers through my head. I grabbed my chalk bag, did my best to smile, gave a little wave to the crowd and went back to the isolation.

Boulder 2 (all queued up)

The next 20 minutes were hard for me. I was the maddest I’ve been in my whole competition career and I’ve done over 100 competitions. I knew Jan had two tops, and another 3 competitors had 1. It was going to take a huge comeback for me to be in the top-3. The part that made me so angry was that I couldn’t shake the concept of being screwed over by my height. I took the 4 climbers that had done the boulder (James Kassay 6”0, Jan Hojer 6”0, Jongwon Chon Fellow 5”11, Guillaume Glairon-Mondet 5”10) and compared it to the climbers who hadn’t done it (Rustam Gelmanov 5”6, myself 5”6 ½). I imagined that the tall climbers could keep their foot on for the move that I fell and it was the jump that hosed me. I sat there in my self-pity for what seemed to be a long time. No one talked to me, which was probably a good thing. After a while, I tried to re-focus. I was in Canada competing in a world cup and I was already in finals. I kept telling myself that the crowd didn’t care where I finished, just that they got a good show, or something like that. It made me feel better. I’d be a huge hypocrite if I just gave up; I’m always telling people to enjoy the process, enjoy being in finals and smile and wave. I promised myself I would enjoy the last two boulders no matter what happened. I could tell the 3rd problem was hard, but still getting done. Because I had no tops, I wasn’t really looking at how fast anyone did it, mostly just if they were doing it or not. I knew the boulder was possible so I tried to think of that.

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I went out and running on the mats, taking in the crowd and waving made me feel better. I took a few deep breaths and tried to focus on the boulder at hand. It was a reverse start and something I haven’t really done in competition. It was basically traversing facing the crowd into a mantle. I did the first few moves much easier than I had thought and was close to the lip. I found some cool positions and went toe hook feet first into the bonus. I felt like I was climbing smart and efficient. Now came time for the mantle. I threw my right foot over the volume because that’s my strong side. I went from feeling good, to feeling awkward to a struggling feeling. It wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting high enough. I grabbed the intermediate but it didn’t do anything. I made the decision, it was time to reverse. Reversing the movement was just as hard as going up in the first place; I had now been climbing for roughly a minute. I wrapped my legs around the massive hold and steadied my breathing. It was time for the other leg, my “weaker” side. I did similar movements and it didn’t seem to be working any better. I finally got so tired, I couldn’t really move anymore. I looked up and the final hold was in reach. I knew the whole time I was mantling that the hard part would be matching the final hold, not just 1-handing it. I reached up and the last hold was bad as expected. I was pleasantly surprised that the bolt hole felt sharp. I clenched my whole body on the volume and released my right hand. I knew I was going to do it, unless something crazy slipped. I matched the final hold and let out a big roar. I had topped a problem and was thrilled. After the match I just leaned backwards and fell on my back. The crowd was going crazy and I was exhausted. I got up and could feel the energy from the crowd; they were feeding off my struggle and rewarding me with cheers.

Problem 3 (all queued up)

With the one flash, a lot came back into play. On top of it, Jan couldn’t do the mantle which brought the Gold medal position back into play. From what I had gathered, Gui-Gui Jan and Jongwon had 2 tops in whatever. I was in 4th with a flash, but James also had a top. Rustam hadn’t had a great finals yet with 0 tops. As the competitors started the last boulder, the math became easier and easier. Gui-Gui was first and sent the boulder. He had 3 tops and would beat me for sure. Rustam flashed it as well, but I was still ahead of him. I thought James had 2 tops, but in reality he had one. Jongwon also couldn’t do the last problem which opened up the podium for me. I just had to do the boulder and I’d be on the podium. In my mind I was shooting for 3rd, because I knew Jan would also do the boulder.

I came out and I was motivated. It was one of those boulders where you basically have 2 tries, plus one at the very end as a maybe. I started the boulder and the first move was pretty basic. I crimped the left hand as hard as I could while jumping to the next. I grabbed the zone and reached out right. This move was going to be hard. It was a campus but I just needed to tense my right arm. Just don’t let go I said. I campused down and was now on the “crux” move. I was campusing off two good holds and I knew the next one was good as well, it was a distance thing. I started my momentum and swing in the right direction. One pump, two, on the third I knew I was going for it. Everything worked perfectly. I had enough swing to get the distance, I could feel the energy running through my body and I exploded out right. My left hand stayed on the wall and I felt a jug on my right hand. I knew the boulder was done; I had done it, a podium after such a crushing start.

Problem 4 (all queued up)

As I let go of my left hand, I was one arm campusing. I clenched my fist but held back too much celebrating. Save it for once I’ve matched the finish I said to myself. My left foot went up and I cruised to the finish. I matched the hold and started to scream. It was official in my mind; I had secured my 3rd spot. [singlepic id=690 w=550 float=center] I turned to face the crowd on top of my boulder and started screaming. The position was so comfortable and it was such a nice feeling looking over the crowd. Everyone was cheering and people were starting to stand up. From the presentation, I knew where my mom was sitting so I scoured the crowd and found her. The look on her face was nothing but joy. She looked so proud to see what I had just done and was close to tears. I felt like it was appropriate so I just stuck out my arm and started pointing at her. Everything was in slow motion and I couldn’t have been happier. I scream because I’m happy and shake my fist because it feels just so right in those moments. [singlepic id=694 w=550 float=center] I jumped down to Pete Woods on the MC and gave him a hi-5. I waved at the crowd, kept them cheering and passed them off to Shauna who had fallen on her last boulder. The IFSC judge Graeme Alderson told me I was in 2nd, but I knew Jan just needed a top to put me to 3rd. Jan sent the boulder 2nd try after a small slip on the first move. Funny enough that slip cost Jan the gold. [singlepic id=695 w=550 float=center] In the end Gui-gui had won his 3rd boulder world cup, Jan was 2nd and I came 3rd. Some other fun facts were that if I hadn’t of slipped off the top of boulder 2, OR had done the dyno, I would’ve won! Always fun to look to see how close it really was. On the women’s side, I had no idea what was going on. I knew all their boulders were being sent and Alex was in the lead with 4 tops in 11. Shauna fell a couple of times on their last boulder but on her last attempt put forth an amazing attempt to secure her 1st or 2nd place. Akiyo came out last, sent the boulder and secured her win. [singlepic id=696 w=550 float=center]   Akiyo won with 4 tops in 5, Shauna was 2nd with 4 tops in 7 and Alex took bronze with 4 tops in 11. Full results for the MEN can be found HERE. WOMENS are HERE.

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Comments (10)

  • Avatar

    Paul Ledet

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    What a wonderful opportunity to see this through your eyes! Thanks Sean!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Tyler

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    Great job sean, you’re a real competitor. I loved watching and definitely saw you hitting your head in problem two. Congrats on overcoming the mind game and finishing strong.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    amir

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    congrats shaun, always great to read your amazing journeys and learn from them, keep up the good work man 🙂

    Reply

  • Avatar

    John Meget

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    Sean, you were so close to winning. Watching the streaming, it seemed to me that both the first two boulders gave a big advantage to taller climbers. I’m thinking of the dyno on problem 1. Also, did you think the 3rd problem was good setting?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I also thought it was a bit easier if you were taller, but at the same try I try not to worry about it so much. I wasn’t thrilled about the third problem because we started with a slab dyno and then the 3rd was another sort of trick. In the end the mantle was the crux and not the roof so it worked out.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Khosrow

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    Congratulations Sean. It was really impressive what you did. Specially the last problem. I – as a shorter climber myself, somehow similarly as yourself – was really excited about that dyno-capmusing thing. It was brilliant. My motto is “if you can’t reach it, you have to dyno it harder”. Thanks for being a role model for me!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Jackson Haber

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    hey shaun, I would like to know how long it took you from when you started to really start getting some solid results. Also, great job in Hamilton. I was there and it was great seeing you climb

    Reply

  • Avatar

    John Meget

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    Sean, let me take it further. I’m no expert, yet it seems to me the setting this year in general has favored tall climbers. Nearly all the finalists have been taller guys. They often can pretty easily make moves that are near impossible for shorter climbers.

    Obviously this is not true of every boulder problem. But it seems like it’s true of enough of them, it has given the taller guys that edge that can make the difference between podium and 6th… or getting to finals in the first place.

    It’s always amazing to watch you handle and overcome this. I thought you had stuck that dyno on the first problem. No one else (other than Jan) really came close to what you did.

    Reply

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