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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

2012 World Championships (day 1-3)

This is part 1 of my blog recap or 2012 World Championships in Paris. To skip straight to Part 2, you can click here. It’s been two days since the 2012 World Championships in Paris and boy was it a weekend to remember. It almost seems like a blur and it’s hard to remember moments on the first few days. I remember thinking to myself on the first day what I would feel like after it was over. Now that it’s over, I feel worked, happy, sore and it’s such a nice feeling not to think about the competition any more. I’ve had a chance to relax, eat candy and relax a bit more. I don’t know what was harder, climbing for 7 rounds in 5 days, or trying to convince myself that I wasn’t getting tired. I should start off by explaining what this post will be about. The 2012 World Championships were held in Bercy, Paris from September 12th-16th. The events that were eligible were Lead, Bouldering and Speed. There was also an Overall category which you would be scored in if you decided to do the 3 events. There was also the Para-climbing championships with only difficulty climbing. [singlepic id=440 w=500 h=480 float=center]   I’ve been thinking about these World Championships since the last one in Arco. I didn’t make finals in either Lead or Bouldering in Arco, and finished 4th place in the overall. I decided a long time ago to compete in everything in Paris including the overall. Some people may think that it’s a bad idea or that I should concentrate on just one so that I have a better chance. I personally think that I wouldn’t know which event to pick if I had to choose between lead and bouldering. I hate the thought of having to pick one discipline, and maybe picking the wrong one. You look at my bouldering season and it includes 3 podiums (2, 2, and 3) and a win at the Adidas RockStars. Then I look at my lead season which includes two podiums (2 and 3) and the last 2 months of training. So which would I choose…? [singlepic id=441 w=320 h=450 float=left] I choose both. On a side note, it’s nice to be in 2 different disciplines because I can think to myself that if I screw one up, I still have the other… I know that Jakob Schubert (our lead champion) made a very hard decision in not doing the bouldering. He wanted to concentrate on lead, and that is a personal choice. Even if he had done bouldering, maybe he wouldn’t have made semi-finals; maybe he would’ve also won… Maybe he would’ve come an average ranking in bouldering and felt tired in lead… after all, we will never know because that is not the choice he took. He wanted to focus on lead, and now he walks away with the gold. Some people could say “Sean, you should’ve focused on lead, maybe you could’ve won…” Yeah maybe I could’ve won, but at the end of the day, again not the choice I made, and I will never regret that decision. I climbed perfectly in finals… and Jakob climbed even better. All that aside, this post is about the competition, how it went and how I felt. I’ll be splitting the post into 3 parts as I tend to be able to write a lot of words in small amounts of time. The first post (current one) will only be up until day 3 with some of my thoughts on random aspects as well. Then I’ll post another for bouldering finals, (click here) and a completely separate one for the lead finals and final thoughts. For now, only the first two are written, the current one, and the second here. [singlepic id=442 w=320 h=420 float=right] I’m also going to skip over most of the girl’s competition. Because of the hectic schedule and the amount of time I spent in isolation, I didn’t even get to watch much of the women climb. I’ll of course add small snippets of the stuff I caught, or the exciting moments! Day 1 (September 12th) The day before was the registration meeting and for the first time in Canadian history, Canada actually nominated a real manager (still volunteer of course…) so I didn’t have to do anything except climb this weekend! Kimanda was team manager, my dad Terry McColl got team coach and my mom Anna Lee got Medic/Physio. The first day was exciting, it was bouldering qualifiers and I was excited to start the weekend. 120 boulderers, and only 20 advance. I was 2nd out in my group just behind Rustam. The qualifiers went well, and I managed to do all 5 boulders in 8 tries. Even better for me was the fact that I flashed the first 4 boulders, and only struggled on the opening jump of the 5th boulder. A couple of goes, and I jumped correctly one time and did the boulder. The one thing to note for this day was the level of stress in between the boulders. I’ve never felt so nervous going through a qualification in boulder which was shared by the two Russians, Kilian and even Guillaume. It’s good to be nervous during the competition if it’s manageable. All the climbers I just mentioned were nervous, but still able to do all 5 boulders in relatively low attempts! [singlepic id=443 w=320 h=420 float=center]   After the first day, I felt fine; I finished my round before 10am, which meant I got 24h of rest before my next session of climbing! Day 2 (September 13th) This day was my lead qualification and because of the flash format, I didn’t have to spend any time in isolation! I was up 23rd on my first route and 56th or something on my second. This left me with a healthy time to watch some of the first 20 climbers for a perfect sequence up the route. Because there were 4 routes in qualifiers, (2 each group) the routes went straight up the wall and weren’t very long either. My first route was easier than my second, but I managed to top both which was nice. After being at the competition for almost 5 hours, I went back to the hotel to get some rest for day 3. After this second day, I still felt very good. With the rest after bouldering, and the fact that I had only climbed 2 routes today, I was still going strong. Day 3 (September 14th) [singlepic id=444 w=320 h=420 float=left] Day 3 was bouldering semi-finals and I knew this was the most important round of the competition. I wasn’t tired from the first two days, and semi-final bouldering is the hardest. It’s the hardest because it’s a circuit (5 minutes on, 5 minutes off) and the finals are not. I can say that the semi-finals did NOT go as I had planned, but I still managed to get through to finals. The first semi-final boulder, I was unable to unlock the sequence, and could only get zone. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to not be able to do the first boulder in semi-finals, and I spent most of the 5 minutes rest just trying to regroup my head. You have to believe that you can still make finals without the first boulder, and that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done up until now, it only goes 1 boulder at a time. I try to remember to climb a round one boulder at a time, and remember to keep cool in my head. There’s no point in harping over a boulder that is in the past because after all, you can’t change it… There is nothing but the next boulder, so only think about that… I managed to keep cool, do the 2nd boulder second try, and finish the 3rd and 4th boulder as well. I didn’t climb perfectly, but it was enough. In finals with myself were the two Russians, Kilian, Jan and Rei. There was no shock to see those others in finals and I knew that the battle for the victory and also the podium was going to be fierce. [singlepic id=446 w=320 h=420 float=right] I also waited for like 6 hours to do 2 speed climbs… They had problems with the timers, didn’t record who was false starting, and at the end, everyone just waited and they did the time by hand, taking the average of 3 different stop watches… I didn’t really care, I just wanted to go home and prepare for my next day of climbing! I would like to take a moment out of my normal recap to talk about some stuff I’ve been catching wind of on the net. Why does everyone insist on knowing the difficulty of the boulders… does it really matter? I guess it’s a good starting point for someone to think about, but normally in competitions, it’s not just the difficulty of the boulder that counts at all. It’s the fact that we only have 5 minutes to climb it… I’m sure that I can find a 7A boulder that will take the top climbers more than 5 minutes to solve. Take for example just 50 holds on the wall without chalk, with one solution… It’s ridiculous, yes, but makes a point. Bouldering competitions is not only about power, but also about problem solving, being precise, being smart, and executing. If we wanted to know who THE STRONGEST person is, we would create some sort of machine that takes a blood sample (or muscle, or something ridiculous), and VOILA, we have a winner… This is not the point of a competition; the point, in my opinion, of a competition is to find the best competitor… [singlepic id=445 w=320 h=420 float=left] People say that X has trained the hardest… Well maybe X doesn’t compete well in front of a crowd… Maybe X can only do 8 billion pull-ups when there isn’t a camera on him, or a crowd behind him. I once listened to a man talk about training and sports while shooting free throws for half an hour. He missed 2 free throws out of 500… When people ask him why he doesn’t play in the NBA, he simply replies “because I can’t shoot the ball under pressure”… This is what truly separates the “strongest” climbers from the best competitors. Granted I know that setting has a huge role in deciding a winner and you can always say that it was easier or harder for certain people or body types. You HAVE to hope and believe that the setters are setting to the best of their ability as to not swing the chances in any one person’s favour… For this post, I don’t want to talk about what I thought of the women’s bouldering because I ONLY had a chance to watch 2/3 of the finals. I will focus more on the men’s. This is my 2 cents, and think what you will. This is the end of the first 3 days, I’ve written most of day 4 already and haven’t even started on the lead final. It will be good though, or I wouldn’t take the time to make a separate post! Feedback is always welcome 🙂

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Comments (12)

  • Avatar

    Sheila McCarron

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    Having done the commentary with Daniel and read the posts on the live chat on ifsc.tv, I totally agree with you. People are for EVER asking the rating of boulder 1 or route B… I just don’t get it. In a competition situation, it’s completely academic, surely. It’s about who does the best job on the day. After all a 7b with a dyno or a 7b slab or a 7b mantle will or won’t suit certain climbers depending on their style. I thought the routesetters got a great mix of styles to make sure it was the most complete climber that won out. Would you agree ?

    Reply

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    Joel

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    Sean, Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Climbers that can climb the hardest of boulders and routes are great but if they aren’t putting themselves out there for the world to see, they are doing nothing for this sport. In five short years that I have been following the sport, I have seen this sport grow and see and hear more people talk about it every day.

    It is people like you who have an attractive style of climbing, are eloquent and active through social media, and now winning world championships, who are carrying the load right now. This blog is part of what is making this sport visible and attractive to sponsors, money, and general development of the sport.

    Decades from now, you are going to see a sport that you don’t recognize because the next generations will be doing things that we cannot imagine right now, and you will be watching them on TV or whatever major media outlet we will be using at that time. You can look back and know that you helped make that happen.

    Until then, Congratulations and Climb On!

    Reply

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    Aidan

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    Great job Sean.

    Reply

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    David Kimber

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    To maybe take a stab at why people want to know grades, I think they like to know what the athlete is up against in a concrete, digestible way. When we see a 100 meter runner line up, we know the world record he’s up against, or the fastest time that year of his competitor. When a team goes head to head vs. another team, they’re working against that team’s record.

    Another way of looking at it is people like to compare themselves to the ‘gods’. “Oh, that’s a 7B? Damn, I’ve climbed 7B before! I could crush that thing!”.

    Of course, where it matters is in your point Sean, about standing up to the pressure. I’ve said that you can talk about who the ‘best’ in tennis is all day long, by comparing stats, forehands, serves, etc., but the argument about who is the ‘greatest’ is inarguably whoever has won the most grand slams (Federer). A champion finds a way to win even when they’re not at their best, or in their best element.

    This is what I look for in these competitions. I could care less about the grade. It’s when I see them throw a problem out there that a climber is clearly not necessarily suited for (some massive dyno, or a weird slab, or some bizarre sequence). I wonder how the hell are they going to deal with that???

    Keep on doing what you’re doing Sean, it’s really fun to watch you learn how to be a champion 🙂

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      well put. I like when people think about what they say before just writing it down. As I mentioned a second ago in another comment, I think the best way to put it in terms of a “7B+” grade would be to ask someone “can you flash/do EVERY 7B+ boulder put in front of you in under 5 minutes”… then the answer may sway from yes to… maybe. Thanks for the support!

      Reply

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    John Meget

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    I think I can answer why people are interested in grades. It helps them put their own climbing in perspective. Or so they think anyway. The grades give them a rough estimate of how hard the boulders are that the world’s best climb. “If I can flash 7B+, and that’s what these guys are climbing…”

    Of course the suggested grades are only rough, and they are only estimates. Plus there are all the other factors Sean talks about. Still the grades serve as some kind of measure to compare ourselves with the world’s best. That’s the thinking, anyway.

    More congrats to Sean on a fantastic comp. My son said it looked like you were flying out there. Bet the best is yet to come for you.

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    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      Yeah I understand, people should also think more along the lines of “can I flash EVERY 7B+ put in front of me”, that’s probably a better description. Thanks for the support, day 4 just went live, hope you like it as well!

      Reply

  • Avatar

    nmq

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    Great post/report from someone on the ‘inside’ of the competition scene, pity there’s not more doing it!

    Congrats on the result, and fascinating that you were your own ‘manager’ up until now at events. be interesting to hear your thoughts on optimum setup and support structure here at some point also.

    Looking forward to other posts….

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Martin

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    Great post again Sean!

    The grades are irritating – event at my local gyms you can not compare the 7a routes … and also on my local crags – old routes are mostly harder than new ones …

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Francesco

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    First of all I’d like to congratulate Sean for the amazing eclectic skills that he’s able to show in every competition…keep on pushing hard like this!

    Then about grades: I am often myself wondering what grade can be a certain boulder problem. Better than “grade” i should use the term “difficulty”…I mean, I don’t care about the number itself, I’d just like to have a rough estimate of the difficulty of the problem that the athletes are facing.
    Of course we cannot compare grades on “real rock” and indoor…I would not be able to use FB grades for indoor problems, it’s not comparable. Then as Sean has pointed out before, there’s the issue of “reading” the boulder problem… This is one of the most interesting aspects for me in bouldering, smth that goes beyond the simple strength. A significant part in bouldering imho is to figure out the right betas, you could try to put together “7C” moves, when it could be a “7A” with the correct sequence.

    This digression, just to say: ok if people want to know the grades just to have an estimate of what the climbers are facing, but know that a number just cannot represent everything.

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  • Avatar

    Raymon

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    “2012 World Championships (day 1-3) | Sean McColl” honestly makes me personally
    think a small amount extra. I adored every particular part of this blog
    post. Many thanks -Raymon

    Reply

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