First Competition of 2013I have now started my 2013 competition season with the first one of the season was in Auzat France this past weekend. Although I’ve been training Bouldering since the start of the year, this one happened to be a lead competition. The competition in Auzat was a French Inter-Regionals. The top 11 men and top 10 women are selected to compete in the French Lead Nationals in Nyort at the end of May. Because I wasn’t qualified from 2012, I had to make the cut. Although I knew there wouldn’t be any super strong competitors there, I still had to make sure I didn’t slip, skip a clip or do anything that would cause me to make the cut. It was the first time in a long time that I HAD to not fall to make it to another competition. It was a strange feeling and I try to treat every competition seriously. [singlepic id=495 w=500 h=300 float=center] “If you aren’t nervous, it means you don’t care about the competition” -my coach. I’ll remember that my whole climbing career. I left Saturday morning from Toulouse with Manu Lopez and Mathilde Becerra. Mathilde was already qualified having come 5th place at the 2012 French Lead Nationals. We were driving by 7am and made the hour and a half voyage out to Auzat. We got to the competition with plenty of time to spare for the qualifiers. When we got there, we saw many friendly faces including Cindy Sararak, Gauthier Benquet, Bastien Gerland and many others. The format of the competition was 2 qualifiers (one after another with a 30 minute rest in between), an on-sight semi-final and an on-sight final. It was all in one day which meant it was going to be a big day. Mathilde was in the first 1/3 of the start list and I was one of the last 5. The qualifiers took the longest but at the end, we both had 2 tops. Overall, the first qualifier was very easy (seeing everyone top) and the second was a bit harder (seeing between 5-10 tops for both). After the two qualifiers, I was starving. We had brought a big bag of food in which we consequently destroyed and then started the 2 hour wait until we would be climbing again. After the nice break, an observation and another wait, it was my turn to climb again and I was pretty excited. I knew if I topped the route, I will have qualified for the Nationals which was my main goal of the weekend. Barring a very confusing and scary first 3 moves of the semi-final, I entered my head-space and topped the route. I felt as if the semi-finals was slightly easier than my q2 mostly because it was on an overhanging part of the wall and I felt in my element. A few climbers later, I also had the chance to watch Mathilde effortlessly top her semi-final. [singlepic id=496 w=500 h=350 float=center] Going into finals, there was a 4 way tie in the men and a 5 way for the women. This meant that if there was a tie in finals, time would be used. Although I generally climb pretty fast, I would try to climb a bit faster to make sure that if it came down to it I would hopefully be the faster climber. After another route change break, preview and isolation it was my turn again. Because I don’t have any points in the FFME, I was one of the first who topped semis to climb. The finals route looked very standard. No bouldery sections that I could see, 35 moves, took a nice line up the wall on fluorescent pink holds and was on the overhanging part of the wall. Before I left isolation, I felt the nervousness I feel before every round of competition. I knew I was ready. I left isolation confidently and the second I stepped onto the wall, I didn’t emerge from my head until I was doing the last move and I knew I’d top the route. As I was clipping the chains, I could hear the cheers coming from the crowd and I turned around and waved. I had given it my best and everything had worked out. The route was very well set, was pretty long and the last few moves were quite hard. While watching the last few men and women on the finals, none of the men were able to complete the finals route. 2nd place went to Thibaut Lair who fell on the last move and 3rd place was Manu Lopez who fell one move below that. [singlepic id=497 w=600 h=400 float=center] On the womens side, Cindy tagged the last hold as the 3rd to last climber. The 2nd to last climber topped the route in about 2:50. Mathilde was the last climber out and I knew she could top the route. She started the route and looked great the whole way up. She was moving quickly with a sense of urgency, but not too fast forcing herself to climb in control. She passed the two bouldery sections very well and got into the last head wall of the route. With 20 seconds to spare, she reached the last move and pasted her right foot on the front side of a volume. As she went to do the last move of the route, her foot slipped down the front of the volume and she hadn’t generated enough momentum. She came close to the last hold, but was falling. One small moment of hesitation or hastiness is all it takes and Mathilde would take 2nd, with Cindy in 3rd based on their finals climbing time. First place went to lone topout of Celine Fergeau. [singlepic id=499 w=600 h=400 float=center] A small ceremony with a trophy and garniture basket followed the finals and completed the long day. It was only 7pm by the end of the competition which made me very happy. We had time to drive back to Toulouse, eat a nice dinner and just crash after the long day. I was happy the I felt good in my first competition of the year and my next one will be on a completely different scale with the Bouldering World Cup in Millau France on April 5-6.
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