Vail World Cup, 2011Another world cup has come and gone, and sadly, I seem to struggle in Vail. This year however, it was a different sort of struggle as I was actually painfully close to making finals. This is the story of how that all went down, and how close making finals, winning, and coming 16th can be at the highest level in bouldering which can be also called a World Cup. It was Friday morning, and I was getting ready to go to qualifiers in Vail. I had come in the night before on a flight from Seattle with my mom and dad. We got to our hotel and just had a pretty mellow night. On our drive from Denver, we had stopped at a Wal-Mart to grab some food and passed by a Subway for dinner. As it was the next morning, I didn’t eat much, I tend not to eat very much food the morning before competitions. I headed to isolation and saw many of the competitors I had seen the previous weekend in Canmore. Most of the Europeans had come straight to Colorado to grab a quick session at Catz or the Spot in prep for the physical boulders at Vail. The qualifiers were pretty standard in my opinion. The first boulder was pretty easy and definitely the easiest of the 5. Most of the competitors flashed it. [singlepic id=181 w=480 h=320 float=left] The second boulder was made up of Teknik Pinch series. I tend to not like problems like this so much mostly because I like climbing boulder problems that have a variety of holds, moves and sequences. This problem was very straight forward and only tested whether you could hold on to one type of hold. It was a good problem, I just thought maybe in a World Cup, it could be a bit more varied. After a couple slip ups in my performance, I managed to fire the problem 3rd go. [singlepic id=185 w=480 h=320 float=right] The third problem was similar to the second in that it was made up of mostly one pad crimps with the exception of the starting and finishing holds. It was also 12 moves long not including bumps which I think is a bit long. I fortunately read the sequence pretty well right off the bat and managed to flash it. Good thing too, because after the 12 moves, I was a bit pumped and would’ve had to make a big decision on whether to even try it a second time if I’d have fallen. [singlepic id=190 w=480 h=320 float=left] The fourth problem in qualifiers was one that I really liked. It had a variety of movements and a few different type of holds. It started with a sort of press up into a pinch, the punched left to a hold, before doing a semi dyno to the bonus. You matched the bonus while turning it to an underling, then fired up 2 moves to the top. I thought the problem was great. It was pretty hard, not impossible, 7 moves and overall pretty good. I also managed to flash this problem. [singlepic id=196 w=480 h=320 float=right] The fifth problem in this opening qualifiers wrecked havoc on my system. It looked like a pretty obvious boulder with a sort of mantle up onto this feature, then a jump over the lip to a snaky looking hold. Standard I thought in my head. My first try, I ended up trying the right method but just didn’t execute the jump well enough. I then started doubting that method and started looking for new ones. In that error, I found a bunch of chalk up on the ceiling of one feature, and I thought I had to mantle underneath it with both hands. That led to 2 or 3 tries in which I would flail towards the snaky hold and come sailing down. I must’ve tried a handful of different sequences around that boulder with the same finish, me laying back down on the mats. Frustrated I couldn’t even touch the bonus hold, I finished the qualifying round with 4 tops in 6 tries. [singlepic id=202 w=480 h=320 float=center] After the round, I was pretty confident that it would pass for semis. Generally, when the problems are like that, you need 3 flashes, 4 tops, and 5 is rock solid. Turns out that was exactly what you need. There were two competitors from the Netherlands that squeaked in with 3 flashes. I qualified in 14th spot with my 4 tops. In the qualification, there were 7 climbers that flashed all the boulders! Among them were some of the favourites to win including Daniel Woods, Kilian Fischhuber and Dmitry Sharafutdinov. Semi Finals Everyone knew that the semi finals would be a lot harder than the qualification. With 5 climbers that flashed all the boulders, they had to separate those ties as well just have people fall more in general. After qualification, I just wanted to stay out of the sun. I took it easy for the rest of the day, and for the rest of the night as well. Semi finals started the morning on the Saturday so I took my morning routine of going to Starbucks then heading to isolation. Because i qualified 14th, I was actually one of the first few climbers going out. 7th if I recall correctly. After a nice warmup, I was ready to tackle semi finals. I’ve never made finals in Vail, and this is the 3rd year that I’ve come. I came out ready as ever and saw that my boulder was a giant slab… awesome. Not discouraged, I read the route, made the initial jump and flailed hard on the last move. The boulder consisted of a pretty easy jump, to a big move, and then… I don’t know. I didn’t do it. I think I was supposed to switch my right hand to a palm, but I just couldn’t commit to it, and I’d fall before I could think anymore while on the problem. I know that slab is not one of my specialties and I continued not in the least discouraged. [singlepic id=208 w=480 h=320 float=left] The second boulder looked to be pretty interesting. It had an unusual start, and then what looked to be a big move and then two hard moves to finish. I got to the big move to the bonus on my first try, but couldn’t stick it with jumping. On my second try, I figured I’d just get bonus, so I set up in this lovely dropknee, and slowly went up and touched the bottom of the hold with my middle finger. This is a picture of me going up to touch it. [singlepic id=215 w=480 h=320 float=right] After touching the hold for a good 3 seconds, (which according to IFSC rules shows control of the hold), I came back down, tried to jump and fell. My 3rd try was similar. After coming back down, the judge didn’t give me control. After talking to 4 coaches from other European countries including Austria, Germany, and Netherlands, they all agreed I should get control. I guess the IFSC delegate disagreed with how the rules were “meant” and eventually rejected my appeal… Onto the third problem in semi finals. From the ground, it looked nice, and simple. Just because a problem looks simple, does not by any means make it easier. I knew this problem was going to be hard just by the fact that there was a sort of mantle, and mantles are hard! The first two moves were physical with a jump onto this big volume. From the volume, you had to reach up to the zone, then magically mantle the volume, grab another volume and continue to the top. I knew it involved something strange. I managed the jump to the volume on my second try and was positioned on the bonus, but kind of wondering what to do next. I managed to turn my hand slightly, but I then decided to match hands, when in fact you had to bring your left foot up onto the volume before you could physically continue. At the end of the day, only 3 competitors finished this problem, all of them making finals. [singlepic id=222 w=480 h=320 float=center] The last problem was also a very nice problem. It was very obvious from the ground what you had to do, squeeze, and then pull up. After a few failed attempts, I was down to the last minute of the semi finals. I had jumped to the bonus hold on my second try and didn’t get it right. I was positive I’d hit at least the bonus on my last try and hopefully send the problem. I left the ground with 40 seconds to go, long enough for one last attempt. I got up to the bonus in half that time, and then was trying to figure out the last few moves. After some brutally hard moves up at the top of the problem, I could hear the 5 second warning buzzers going off as well as the MC saying I had 5 seconds left. Through the cheering of the crowd, I managed to cross over and match just as my 5 minute buzzer was sounding. I looked left after matching and saw the 4:59 starting to countdown, which means a second ago, I had completed my climb within the 5 minutes. I knew it’d be close but again, they didn’t give it to me. Talk about a rough day… [singlepic id=231 w=480 h=320 float=left] [singlepic id=233 w=480 h=320 float=right] Them not giving number 5 was understandable. I understand that you have to control the finish hold for 1, 2 seconds before getting control, and I probably only controlled it for .79 seconds. But the zone on number blows my mind. Not getting into too much, but I believe it was still a mistake on the behalf of the IFSC delegate. So I “on paper” finished with no tops and 3 bonuses in a handful of tries landing me in 15th place. Sadly, I didn’t make finals. To put it in perspective, I completed the last problem. I know I didn’t complete the problem in time, but assuming I started the problem a handful of seconds earlier, that 1 top would’ve pushed me into 9th place. I was pretty close on the first 3 problems, and if you finish 2 problems, you find yourself in finals. So after completing semi finals, I was actually very happy with how I had climbed. I knew that to make Finals, you have to climb very well, and I had only climbed well. I keep my head up and I look forward for the next competition, which is next week in Eindhoven. There are tons more photos of the competition taken by my father Terry McColl in the photo gallery for Vail. Full results for the Vail World Cup can be found at the following links: Mens Results Womens Results
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