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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

2012 World Championships (day 4)

This is the second part of my full recap of the 2012 World Championships in Paris. For Part 1, you can click here. Day 4 (September 15th) This fourth day was going to be the most challenging (or so I thought) because it was the only day where I had to do 2 rounds in the same day. I woke up in the morning and went straight to semi-finals lead isolation. I had made finals in bouldering so I had attained one of my goals. For me, lead climbing is much easier on my body than the bouldering especially because of my climbing style. I climb quickly, and try to be very precise and efficient. I’ll go into more detail for the final route recap. Semi-finals went very well, and I fell on the 3rd to last move of the route. The first half of the route was fairly easy, and the only confusing part of this route was coming across the roof from right to left. [singlepic id=454 w=500 h=380 float=center]   There was a hard clip just before the roof, and I had to re adjust my foot on one of the footholds which is the only moment I had to slow down. We had mostly previewed to go feet first and I was over 90% sure I would do a hard cross under in the roof with my foot out left. When I did the first hard campus foot and set up to do the cross under, I immediately saw that it wasn’t a good idea. My mind raced for different solutions, and I came to the conclusion that if I hand foot match toe hooked, I could do the hard cross through and get back onto my main sequence. It worked, and although I powered through the move, I hadn’t spent much time coming up with the solution and felt good. A few moves over the main headwall, and I was in a finals spot. I managed to get through the bottle neck on a hard cross through move, and climb a few more moves before being maxed out and jumping up for a tag. I was 3rd to last climber and held on to the highpoint for a couple of minutes before Ramonet topped the route just after… I didn’t care as it’s just the semi-finals. I was almost relieved because I’m not a huge fan of climbing last, especially after Jakob or Ramonet or something… I had made finals in lead, which put me over the moon. I had finals bouldering in 3 hours, which wasn’t quite enough time to commit to going back to the hotel. Instead, I had a great lunch with my parents and Mathilde, sat in a coffee shop for another 45 minutes, then layed on a bench in a park until isolation opened. While I was warming up for finals, I felt tired… Unfortunately the fatigue of the competition was starting to set in. Even though I felt a bit tired, I would never admit it, and whenever someone asked me how I was feeling, I said I felt great. It’s one thing to feel tired, and another to admit it. I didn’t care if I felt tired; I knew I only had to do 4 boulder problems separated by half an hour of rest. It didn’t even matter if I was tired, as I only needed to have 3-4 minutes of energy. I kept that in my mind while warming up, and started feeling better as the hour approached. We previewed, came back to climb a bit more and then went out for presentation and the finals. During the presentation, I could only gaze out at the number of people in the stands. The stadium was full on one side looking down onto the stage and it was awesome! 10,000 people in stadium seating can produce an awesome ambiance. I could only look out at the sea of people and grin. Also, as there were no French in finals, I somehow became one of the crowd favourites. It was probably because Christopher explained to them that I live and train in Toulouse, France now so I was the closest thing that they had! Guillaume Glairon-Mondet of France missed the finals by 1 attempt to zone after only completing two boulders in the semi-final round… FINALS BOULDERING [singlepic id=447 w=320 h=460 float=left] The first boulder was straight forward with a weird start. It involved a couple big moves, compression style, but overall looked standard. When the first climber Rei went out and flashed it, we all knew that it was possible. Rustam followed and flashed it as well. To our shock, it took Dmiitri a few tries to do the problem, but still managed to do it. We didn’t really know why he hadn’t done it flash, but it was not that important. I was 4th out ran out to a cheering crowd. The first move was easy, and the second was a bit harder. I jumped into the big volume and it was really good. I pasted my foot back on the foothold and jumped up to the zone. I ALMOST jumped too low to the bonus and as my feet came out swinging, I just barely had enough of my hand on the hold to control the swing. We had previewed right foot hand foot match heel hook, but when I swung up my leg, it just felt really uncomfortable. I knew the next hold was a big pinch, and I went with my instinct. I put my left heel on instead, and went up to the hold with my left hand. If I could sit on my left leg, I could match and be just fine. If I couldn’t match, I knew this move wasn’t that hard, so I could always reverse it and come up with another solution. I was lucky and the match wasn’t too hard. I matched, grabbed the big volume again to set my foot correctly and slowly went to the last hold. A quick match and I had flashed the first boulder. Kilian and Jan came out behind me and flashed the first as well. [singlepic id=450 w=500 h=400 float=center]   The second boulder was harder and involved a whole bunch of round volumes and small crimps. The start was also a bit mind boggling. After Rei went out and failed to make even bonus, we figured that the boulder was quite hard. When Rustam went out as well and couldn’t make bonus, we started to wonder about our sequences. Dmiitri was third and after a few close attempts, he finally sent the boulder with massive cheers coming from the crowd. We knew the boulder was possible now and just had to figure it out. I went out and was excited for the boulder. The start was weird, and therefore hard. I got on and did the first couple of moves around the corner. I kept my foot low on the volume and as I went up with my left hand, I was 1cm too low on the lunge, and I didn’t grab the crimp. With a balancy throw like this, as soon as you don’t hit the hold, you fall. I was slightly mad that I had wasted an attempt like that, but still took a small breather before getting back on. On my second try, I brought my right foot up one foothold to have a bit more height. With my left foot balancing my weight, I hit the crimp perfectly, and it felt really good. I looked up at the zone, and knew I was going to jump. I did my best to keep the move as static as possible while one hand campusing on my left arm. [singlepic id=449 w=320 h=480 float=right] I stuck the zone, and it was much better than I thought it was going to be. I looked up, and knew that campusing to the next was probably going to be the best solution. I crimped hard on my right hand and campused up to the left hand crimp. From here, I knew I needed to put my left foot way out left and do one more hard move. As I started stretching my foot out towards the left, I was surprised to see that the foothold was actually very very small. I got it on pretty fast, and told myself that it wouldn’t slip. A small dynamic move straight up and my left hand was on another good screw on. Right foot came up, and the last move was relatively easy. I matched the finish hold and knew that at that moment then, I was in the lead… The crowd was cheering loudly and I encouraged them to give an extra cheer before jumping off the boulder. Next out was Kilian, who from what I can imagine happened, calmly looked at the boulder and then proceeded to flash it! Even as the crowd roared to his flash, I could only smile behind the wall. The last climber Jan, got up into the last couple moves of the boulder, but couldn’t secure his foot out on the far left foothold. Without it, the shoulder hold wasn’t good enough, and he fell a few times from there before his 4 minutes were up. [singlepic id=452 w=320 h=480 float=left] The third boulder was “the slab” one and started with a small mantle. The first Japanese climber was unable to complete the boulder, and we didn’t even though he got the bonus. We kind of also figured that if we could get bonus, the rest might not be so hard. Rustam went out second, and sent it 1st or 2nd go! After that, we knew that it was going to be something a bit out of the ordinary, but at least it was possible. Dmiitri was next and also sent the boulder although taking him quite a few more tries… I was 4th, and I was excited knowing that the slab wasn’t impossible. My first two tries were relatively the same. I did the initial mantle first move, but was really stumped on the middle move. We had previewed to have our right hand grabbing the green screw on, then crossing under a bit to the corner of the wall. I just couldn’t set up my hips right, and I thought THAT was the problem. It turned out (as I’m sure all the viewer’s already knew) that we had to have our left hand as a shoulder/gaston on the green screw on. I finally figured it out on my 3rd try, but had been on the wall for a minute so I fell. I only had time for a 5-10 second rest before trying it for my 4th and final time… I did the first mantle, although it was hard, then started coming across the right. I immediately got my left hand on the shoulders while setting up my feet out right. I used my right for balance and started to lean towards the right, it was working! [singlepic id=451 w=320 h=480 float=left] Slowly and slowly I came across the wall, although I was moving into new territory. I wasn’t sure if I could lock it off all the way, or if I was going to have to lunge for the hold. I kept getting further and further towards the hold until I almost had it. I made the last little lunge to the hold, and thought I was going to stick it… Again, I was half a cm too short and I didn’t get the hold exactly where I wanted to get it. As my body started to fall backwards, I knew I was falling and started to yell “noooooooo”. I also knew that I would almost 100% send the boulder next go. I ran around twice in a circle slightly outraged while looking for my chalk bag before realizing it was just beside the start hold. Still a bit rattled, I went back behind the curtain, took off my shirt and layed down. It turns out that Kilian did pretty much the same thing as me for the 4 minutes. He didn’t figure out the left hand beta until the last try, but again, it was too late… Jan also didn’t think about the left hand beta and was unable to complete the boulder. After the third boulder, Dmiitri had a commanding lead with Kilian, Rustam and me all battling with one less top. Going into the last boulder, I tried to shake off the fact that I hadn’t done boulder 3. Dmiitri was in the lead, but he had taken quite a few tries on boulder 1 and 2 so there was a chance that he wouldn’t win. It would have to include him not being able to do the last boulder, and someone else being able to do it. Rei went out, fell once, and sent the boulder second try… My heart hurt a bit because I was pretty sure Dmiitri was going to win. Rustam was 2nd and flashed the boulder quite fast. Dmiitri out next, and yes, flashed the boulder… It was over, for the win anyways. He took a bit of extra time to wave at the crowd, and we all knew he was the 2012 World Champion. I took a deep breath and remembered that there was still a boulder problem to do. As he was on the way back behind the wall, I ran out to confront the last boulder. I looked at it, and remembered it perfectly. I was excited and knew I should be able to flash it. I did the first move easily up into the volume as a shoulder hold. I matched hands and noticed that my feet were quite low. I felt good as I brought my feet up on the smears and then something pretty crazy happened. I remember thinking that the feet were quite low and I was very stretched out. I also knew that my feet were on a slight slab, so the friction would be very good. As I brought my feet up, I contracted my abs, but I guess not quite hard enough… I only had my left foot on the wall as the hold was pretty good as an undercling. I started to look up at the next hold when the unexpected happened; my left foot slipped straight down. Without even thinking and by 100% instinct, my right foot shot onto the wall to try and compensate for the left foot slipping. I held it for only a split second as my right hand immediately blew off. The left hand and right foot combination clearly wasn’t enough and I fell straight onto my back. A bit winded, but more baffled, I stood up almost immediately. I was a bit embarrassed but really just couldn’t believe I had slipped like that. I chalked up my shoes, took a few deep breaths, and then sent the problem second go. [singlepic id=453 w=500 h=400 float=center]   It was hard, but there was only one hard move, sticking the second to last hold. You had to release the heel hook and come around the corner. I wasn’t sure if I could just cut my feet, or if I should stab my left hand out left at the same time. I ended up releasing my heel and stabbing out left, and it worked. I matched the second to last hold to secure the finish hold and waved to the crowd. I jumped down with smiles across my face. It was over, finals bouldering and I had still done 3 boulders. Before I got on the last boulder, I knew Dmiitri had won, but I thought Rustam had already secured his victory over me. I thought he had flashed 3 of 4 boulders which meant that even if I flashed the last; I still would’ve come 4th (assuming Kilian also flashed or 2nd try). This is also why I didn’t look too upset about the slip. I didn’t find out until a good 10 minutes later that if I hadn’t of slipped like that on the last problem, I would’ve secured a podium finish… Even if I would’ve known that fact, I don’t think it would’ve changed how I climbed the last boulder, I think I might’ve just been more disappointed with the slip… Now that it’s over, slips like that happen, and I’m lucky that that was the only one of pretty much the whole competition… Now that the story is complete, I’d like to talk about the boulders in finals as everyone seems to be asking lots of questions, more so around this competition in Paris. Overall, I thought the finals boulder for men were VERY good. The only boulder I could even remotely criticize would be boulder 4. You could argue that boulder 1 was a bit too straight forward, but then again, Dmiitri fell 3 times… The second boulder was perfect, hands down. The 3rd boulder was very very good because although it wasn’t grade wise the hardest, it was very complicated to read. Whenever we have only 4 minutes to do a boulder, we go with our instincts. Kilian, Jan and I thought we were going to be grabbing the edge. When it wasn’t working out perfectly on our 1st try, we all thought it was something to do with our hips position, or maybe our feet. When you’re competing against the clock, you have to make smart decisions. Of course anyone watching the competition will already know how to “best” do the boulder because they just saw two Russians top it. I would bet money that if either Russian hadn’t of matched, and also thought the problem was within their lower body; they probably wouldn’t have succeeded in the boulder either. The boulder in that respect was perfect. The boulder separated some of the best boulderers of this 2012 season. It’s a bit unfortunate that the 4th boulder wasn’t a bit harder, but it could’ve been so much worse. Take for instance, if somehow the 3rd boulder wasn’t done. Then if the 4th boulder is too hard, we now have a finals competition based on the first 2 boulders… As it turned out, the second and third boulder were used for the main part of separation, and the 1st and 4th were straighter forward, but still took some competitors a couple of attempts. Yes, I agree that the last one should’ve been harder, but hindsight is always 20/20 and it is what it is. I ended up in 4th position after a very unfortunate “slip”. People say, “Maybe you went too fast”, but no I think I was just fine, and I didn’t contract my abs hard enough to keep my feet on. It happens, and it sucks. C’est la vie. The photos in the post were taken by Climbing Dyreco, Terry McColl and Austria Climbing Team. Thanks!  

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Comments (7)

  • Avatar

    Dave Flanagan

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    Good post Sean. Why did you chalk up your shoes on the last problem?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I had just slipped, and it’s a small thing to do so that mentally you don’t think about slipping a second time…

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Dave Flanagan

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        Thanks for replying Sean. I’m very concious that you are overall world champion and I’m a total punter when I say this, putting chalk on your climbing shoes makes the friction worse not better.

        Reply

        • Avatar

          Sean McColl

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          I think it’s just a mental thing, just changing something so that I don’t footslip again. I also walked to the problem, making the chalk fall off anyways.

          Reply

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    David Kimber

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    More than anything I was super-impressed that you went out in front of over 10,000 people (with many more watching through the live feed online!) and was able to focus on sending hard problems, instead of freaking out at the momentousness of the occasion. The World Championships. The big ticket item! You had incredibly good results all year (way better than any of us damned Americans…) and if you decide to get back on it again next year, will be that much more seasoned and primed for sendage! Good luck!!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Nehbur

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    That campus on boulder 2 was sick man!!

    Reply

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