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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Vail World Cup

Almost two weeks ago was the World Cup in Vail. I’ve failed to write a blog post because I have been moving constantly and I’ve finally had a few days to think for myself. The Vail weekend was that of June 7-9. [singlepic id=535 w=250 h=350 float=left] After a hard finals in Hamilton but a finals none-the-less I flew to Denver with my mom and dad. After a rest day on the Monday, I met up with the whole Austrian, German, and British, and Dutch teams along with a plethora of US climbers at “The Spot” for some much needing training. We didn’t actually need to train that much, but it makes sense to climb once between competitions to flush out our muscles and just do some sort of activity. I was still very sore from Hamilton which I felt right away. I still bouldered around with the various climbers for a good 2 hours. It was fun and the atmosphere was great. Just climbing with all my friends in a good session! I even got to catch up with my old friend Obe Carrion from back in the day! After a couple more days in Denver, we drove up to Vail in time for the registration and technical meeting. Sadly, the competitors weren’t given free goody bags which meant no free socks this year 🙁 [singlepic id=537 w=500 h=400 float=center]   Women’s qualifiers were the morning of the 8th. I went out, watched, and snapped a few pictures before feeling that the sun was quite hot that morning. After watching most of the round, I went back to the hotel rested for a couple of hours and then went to isolation myself. Nothing out of the ordinary happened and soon I was running out for my first qualification boulder. Of the 5 boulders, I flashed the three in the middle and fell once on each slab. The first one was a dumb mistake where I previewed one method and chose to climb and fall on it in another… The last boulder was very balancy and I missed a key thumb (or wrap) while going for the final hold and had to settle for 2nd try. Of the other Canadians competing, Elise Sethna and Stacey Weldon advanced to the semifinal round! [singlepic id=538 w=250 h=350 float=left] I went out last in semifinals after tying for first in qualification. Of the 4 problems, I managed to do them all but it was very scary. I miss-read the first SF boulder on my first attempt and spent over a minute trying to do it a certain way. I realized I was probably doing it wrong so I ended up jumping off. From there, I saw to try it another way but I was tired. I then fell off the last move because my left hand dry-fired off the arête. I got on the boulder for a 3rd time with only 40 seconds to go. I was too tired to do the third move the way I had done it on my second attempt which slowed me down even further. [singlepic id=539 w=250 h=350 float=right] By the 2nd to last move as seen to the right, I had 10 seconds left. I knew I had to take my time so I did; I took some deep breaths and topped the problem as the 5 seconds left timer started ticking down! I was very happy that I had completed the boulder and spent the rest time trying to recover as much as I could. When I came out and flashed the second boulder, I knew I had found my stride again and got a nice 8 minute rest before boulder 3. Boulder 3 was an interesting one, I read one sequence tried it and failed miserably. There was no way I was going to be doing it that way. At first I thought it was impossible for me, so I started thinking about creative ways to do the boulder. I thought of something that looked extremely weird from the ground, tried it and sent the boulder. It turns out that you HAD to do it that way if you weren’t named “Dimitrii Sharafutdinov”. I had a chance to watch a lot of other strong competitors that got “stuck” trying the same sequence and kept falling and falling because the move was incredibly hard. [singlepic id=540 w=500 h=400 float=center]   The 4th boulder in SF was a technical slab with the crux being the second foot movement. I fell once quickly and sent the boulder second go, crimping some t-nuts on the volume out left. For the record, you are allowed to use t-nuts with your hands on volumes but not on the plywood walls! You are always allowed to use your feet in t-nuts. After doing 4 boulders in 8, I was in 2nd place waiting for finals. You had to do 2 tops in 3 with 4 bonuses to make finals which is what Jorg Verhoeven from the Netherlands got. He slipped into finals in 6th place. For the women, it was disastrous semifinals with 2 bonuses flash being enough to advance to finals. Elise had gotten 2 bonuses in 3 tries which put her finishing in 9th place. This might be the first time a Canadian woman has placed in the top-10 at a world cup!? Finals started a few hours later and I did the same routine I had done in 2012. I got lunch with my parents then rested at the hotel. Warming up for finals took all of 10 minutes because of the short delay after the previous round. It was a bit colder than during the semifinals but still hot enough to wear shorts. [singlepic id=536 w=550 h=300 float=center]   The presentation started so quickly when we got there that I was still playing around with my stuff. They called out my name and I rushed to put on my jacket and run out, zipping up my jacket once standing out there 🙂 The final boulder problems went: slab, dihedral, power, power. On the first boulder, Jorg and Paul didn’t complete it where the two Russians did. I knew the boulder was possible so I went out with that in my mind. I don’t know what happened but I got very frustrated not being able to do the first move. I knew you had to step up and put in a left toe hook, and I thought that it was a dynamic move. Because I was so close to sticking the zone on my first try, I tried it the same way a few more times before changing anything. This is one of those problems that is extremely frustrating because the smallest changes can change your world. This is a perfect example of a problem that is not very hard if you’re told the sequence but having to onsight the boulder in under minutes is very hard. I spent 3 minutes trying it a few different ways and getting extremely rattled. Finally with 40 seconds left, I tuned into the fact that I had to place my toe hook before leaving the start holds, AHHHH! I was disgusted. I rested 35 seconds, effortlessly did the first move but was too exhausted to do anything else. So disappointing. [singlepic id=532 w=500 h=400 float=center]   I took the 20 minutes before the second boulder to compose myself. By the time I was coming out to try it, I was confident again and had brushed off the first one. I knew that I should only look forward and believe that I would do well on the last 3. Of the first 4 climbers, none had done the dihedral. I got bonus on my first try and spend another couple of tries figuring it out. My last try was the best and I even tickled the final hold but it was too hard. I was in the corner for almost a minute and I started to feel like I was going to just slip because my body was fatigued. I turned my body and starting jumping for the finish hold all in one motion but as soon as I turned around I realized the final hold was much further than I thought. I still went for it, but it wasn’t a jug so I wasn’t very close to sticking it. I got the highest of all the finalists but had to settle for zone. The 3rd boulder was a longer one with a straight forward sequence and hard moves. I knew that 3 people before me had done it so I was determined to flash it. I came out and executed perfectly. I only had a moment hesitation near the top when I was deciding whether to match a volume or go again. I matched it, tightened my body and finished the boulder! [singlepic id=533 w=500 h=400 float=center]   The last boulder was another powerful problem with a small jump in the middle but we didn’t think it looked very hard. The first two finalists couldn’t do it, which meant it wasn’t easy. When Rustam did the boulder second try, we knew he had secured 1st or 2nd with only Dimitrii able to pass him. When Dimitrii went out and flashed the boulder, there was only room for 3rd place now. I knew I was probably in 4th place and if I did the last boulder I’d move up to 3rd. I tried hard on the last boulder but I felt tired and the moves were not my style. I knew how to do the move as the setter set it, but I wasn’t quite tall enough to keep a left toe hook on the start hold. I found a different method which included a re-clutch to undercling wrap on my right hand but I wasn’t focused enough on the next move and my heel slipped. On my last attempt, I tried to get extra motivation from the crowd, but I was tired and couldn’t even do the second move anymore 🙁 When Kilian Fischhuber didn’t flash the boulder, I secured 4th place in Vail. He did it second go, giving him 5th place. The podium for the men went Dimitrii, Rustam then Jorg. For the women, 3 of them did 4 tops in 9 and it came to attempts to bonus! At the end, Anna Stohr had won her 6th World cup of the year with Akiyo Noguchi in 2nd and Alex Puccio completing the podium. Full results for MEN HERE and WOMEN HERE. Overall, my finals performance was about 50%. I felt like I had tanked the first boulder, done well on the second and third then was not motivated enough for the 4th. I still gave my best every time but I wasn’t a fan of the final boulders. I know sometimes it’s like that, and I guess I just try to look forward to those finals where everything fits, like in Slovenia. I’m also super happy that I made my 4th finals in a row where it feels like the caliber of the bouldering athletes is much higher and harder to even make finals, let alone a podium or a victory! After a couple days in Dallas, Texas touring the gyms and athletes down there, I’ve returned to Europe and started my lead training. It’s the hardest part because I get pumped after 30 moves, but it is supposed to only get easier and easier until the first competition when I will be able to do 50-60 extremely hard moves!  

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