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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Innsbruck World Cup 2012 (q’s and semis)

It’s been almost a year since I’ve been in finals at a bouldering World Cup, although every time you make it that far, you remember every moment of it. As I’m already at well over 1000 words for just qualifiers and semis, I’m going to split this post in two. If you would prefer to only read the finals post, click here. All the photos in this post were taken by Heiko Wilhelm! I’ve just finished a trip to the bouldering world cup in Innsbruck where I managed to grab a spot on the podium and finish in 3rd place. My trip started with a very epic travelling day, which can be found HERE. The next morning were the qualifiers and the men were to go first. For the weekend, I was staying with two of the best of competition climbers on the circuit, Kilian Fischhuber and Anna Stöhr. They lived a short bike ride from the gym, and because parking was going to be epic, we rode bikes to the competition every day. It felt good to ride a bike to a competition as it warmed up the muscles a bit, and I felt more useful just by doing some cardio in the morning. [singlepic id=359 w=320 h=480 float=left] The qualifiers for the men were very standard. 5 boulders for each of the 2 groups on their own part of the walls. The route setters tried their best to make the two groups have similar problems, and for the most part, they were good. My first qualifier was pretty easy, as was the second. The third had a somewhat blind dyno around a volume so I fell once and sent second go. The fourth boulder was the hardest physical boulder but after doing the first three, I felt good and flashed it. The last boulder was the hardest mentally as it was a slab. I did it a slightly harder way by not switching to a palm press earlier but managed to do the last one second go. I finished qualifiers with 5 tops in 7 tries and 5 bonuses in 6. I knew I had climbed well, and I was pretty confident I was going to be making it through near the head of the pack. After watching qualifiers for another 2 hours, I finished in 3rd place in my group. To qualify to semis in my group, you had to do 4 boulders in 9 or less tries. In the other group, the problems were a bit harder with 3 boulders in 4 tries being the cut off for semi-finals. After qualifiers, I biked back to the house, and then drove to the airport to pick up my bag. Sometime in the morning while we were competing, Anna was called by the airport saying my bag had arrived. It was there, undamaged, and I was just relieved to have it back. I biked back down to the competition to watch the first half of the women do their qualifiers. It started getting pretty hot half way through, and to save energy for the next day, we watched the rest on the live stream. [singlepic id=360 w=320 h=480 float=right] Semi-finals were on the Saturday and started at 12:30. We had a super mellow morning, a few coffees and many cups of tea while waiting to go down to the competition. Fast forward a couple more hours and we were well into the semi-final round. When the round started, one of the first people to go out was a British climber named Stewart Watson. He’s a very talented climber from the UK but is now living in Innsbruck. From the crowd’s reaction, as well as the very obvious MC, everyone knew he had flashed the first two boulders… Usually when that happens, the boulders are a bit too easy, and it becomes a game of tries where one slip could put you from 4th to 20th or something ridiculous like that. You try to forget about it, but it’s always in the back of your mind. I was 15th out or so and warming up was very easy as it was much warmer than the previous day. I knew where my boulders were, and I know it started with the slab. I was a bit happy that a bunch of people were doing the slab because it meant that it probably wasn’t the hardest problem. When I finally came out, I was excited. I looked at the first slab problem, and it looked obvious. I did the first couple moves and tried to move out right, the zone hold was too far, and I got stuck for a while. I couldn’t downclimb the move, so I only had one option. I bumped my left hand in about 6 inches while my right hand was palming the wall. I knew if I didn’t hit the two finger screw on perfectly, I’d fall. I guess I had a moment of clarity, as my two fingers hit just right and my weight was against the wall again. From there, I reached the zone and did the last move of the boulder. 1 boulder done, and I felt good. As I jumped down, Kilian was also jumping down from the second, and judging by the time that remained, I knew he had flashed it as well. I can tell you right now that knowing a climber has flashed a boulder does not make the boulder easier. I would prefer it I knew the problem had never been done, so I can be the first to do it, and if I still can’t do it, then no harm done. The problem with knowing that one or a handful of people have done a problem is that in your head, you think “if I don’t do this problem, I probably won’t advance” which is extremely hard for your head. Every climber has to find their own way to deal with it. The way that I try to think of it is “if he did, then at least it’s possible, and I hope I can do it as well”. [singlepic id=361 w=320 h=480 float=left] 7-8 minutes later, I was running out to the second. At first look, I thought the first move was a dyno to a pocket and volume. When I went to pull on, I realized that it wasn’t a dyno. The first few moves were a bit weird, and the crux was getting to the zone and matching. The problem had pretty high feet, which suited me pretty well. It was also straight on climbing, with no edges to grab (compression style) which is bad for me. I managed to stick the zone, match it, and flash the problem as well. 2 for 2. I also looked over in the direction of problem 3, and saw no one standing there, which meant Kilian had already flashed 3 and gone back inside the tent… oh my. From inside the tent, you can tell when someone completes the boulder because they come running back to the tent before their time is zone… it’s pretty obvious. I knew the third boulder was the hardest, but it was still hard. Kilian had flashed it; Lukas Ennemoser had done it in a few tries as well as some other climbers I had noticed. When I went out to the problem, it had a painfully obvious sequence. It looked to be straight forward to the zone hold, then a jump to a feature, and a somewhat easy looking final move. I knew the crux was going to be the jump. It turns out that I was right about the crux, although I still managed to execute it perfectly in the sense that I was matching the final hold and I hadn’t fallen. I was a bit shocked that I had done it so fast, although you don’t ask yourselves those types of questions while competing. I thought if I had flashed 3 problems, you probably needed 4 to make it to finals. I thought this because I could hear that some people had done 4, and I also knew Kilian had done the last one in 3 or 4 tries as he came back to the tent to grab his stuff with a minute still left on the clock. While waiting for the fourth problem, I was determined to do it. In my mind, I was hoping that 3 flash would be enough, but then again, I’ve seen it where 3 isn’t enough… I went out to the fourth, and was a bit shocked to see what it was. There was only a few holds on the wall, and it was a volume problem. I like volumes although these were mostly underclings, so it would be hard. It turned out that the first two moves were some of the hardest moves. I almost fell on the first move, but somehow stayed on and perched up into the double undercling. I went up onto the next two which were symmetrical, placed my right foot up and thrutched for the last hold. The last move was also very hard but I jumped hard enough and controlled the finish. 4 flash… a perfect semi-finals. I turned around while still on the finish hold and did the classic tennis fist-pump! I knew I’d be advancing to finals, and the feeling of flashing all the semi-final boulders is something unique. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m going to split the post. The finals post can be found by clicking here!    

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