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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Imst WC and Youth World Championships

After the World Games in Colombia I haven’t even been back to my home in France. I flew directly to Innsbruck to attend the World Cup in Imst. [singlepic id=552 w=300 h=450 float=right] All in all, the competition wasn’t so great for me. It was the first time competing on the gigantic wall outside and I knew it was going to be tough; it was anti-style so to say. I knew the routes were going to be endurance based without many cruxes. My strengths in lead climbing rely on boulder style routes and quick decision making in the 40 move range. When I won my first lead world cup in Slovenia in 2011, I only climbed 35 moves! The qualifiers went alright; I came off the 3rd to last move on Q1 and similar on Q2. I was tied for 3rd moving into the semi-finals. The semi-final round went worse than the Qualifiers. It’s hard to say anything than what it really was. I didn’t climb very well, the route wasn’t great for me and I didn’t get very “lucky” at all. [singlepic id=551 w=300 h=450 float=right] The first half of the route was very easy and I felt like I was bouldering too much through it. I didn’t relax on the holds, climb efficiently or smoothly. This was reinforced when my good Dutch friend Jorg Verhoeven and my girlfriend Mathilde Becerra mentioned those above points. I got halfway up the route and climbed the compression part quite poorly. Just after there was a small rest but I was too pumped to even do the clip. I fell on the next move. Looking back, I was only 1 move away from finals. On a “better” day, I’d just bear down and climb one more move. I finished 10th place and sadly out of finals; still a top-10 finish but not what I aim for! Another thing that I’ve tried to work on since then is clipping. I feel like my clipping is sub-par because I train on circuits all year and don’t clip physical bolts. I can climb 60 moves of circuits but I get very pumped letting go to clip. Since Imst, I’ve tried to focus on that exclusively and I’ll continue to do that until the Arco rock master and subsequent world cups! [singlepic id=550 w=500 h=300 float=right] I went back the next day to watch finals with a small after party in area 47 that night! The morning after the party, I was on another flight back to Canada. It was time to head to Victoria to be a coach for the Canadian National Youth Team. I joined another 4 coaches, our team manager and 32 athletes in Victoria for the competition. We were housed on the UVIC campus and had rented two big buses to get the kids around. I’m going to be altering between kids and athletes the whole post but they are all athletes. They’re also between 13-19 years old, so somewhat kids at the same time J. Although I arrived on the 11th and the competition wasn’t until the 16th, we had plenty of activities planned. The 12th was a training day. We booked the speed wall for our speed athletes and the lead athletes got the chance to test out the warm up area one last time before the competition. I managed to set a personal best on the speed route but unfortunately I didn’t hit the buzzer hard enough and the timer didn’t stop. I got it on video and it’s just under 9 seconds so I know it’s possible! I’ll get the opportunity to compete in another 4 Speed World Cups this year so look out for my sub 9 time! [singlepic id=548 w=300 h=450 float=centre] In the next few days, we had a number of activities planned. We went on a 3-hour kayaking, paddle boarding excursion as well as whale watching on one of the days as well. On the whale watching tour we saw a pod of 40-50 Killer Whales (Orcas). They were saying that in 10 years it’s only happened a few times so we were very very lucky! It was pretty cool seeing 3-6 of these huge animals just coming out of the water completely in unison. Some were bigger than others, there were babies and they said that when they jump out of the water, they’re just trying to play around. One of the nights was also spent watching the meteor shower from the beach. We walked down at night with the team, a few guitars and some warm clothing and just laid out beneath the stars. It had been such a long time I hadn’t done it; it was a very mellow evening. Just lying there beneath the stars, imagining what’s out there, thinking about how big the universe is and seeing the occasional meteor burn up was pretty relaxing. With the soothing sounds of the guitars, it made for a nice evening. After all these small excursions, you might wonder if they did any climbing at all. Yes they did. It started on August 16th. [singlepic id=549 w=300 h=450 float=right] Most of the team (lead athletes) spent the 15th relaxing while I took a small group of kids (speed athletes + alternates) to the Crag-X climbing gym for one last practice. We had fun making up problems amongst the volumes and I tried to train as hard as I could including dead hangs, campus board, volume problems and some conditioning. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to climb during the actual competition. The 16th was Q1 with Q2 on the 17th. We got to the gym early on the 16th and looked up to 6 individual routes. They had mostly cool lines with the left most line only going up 2/3. I guess there was a problem with the distance to the lights in behind so they couldn’t go to the top on that side. The routes looked aesthetic, powerful and overall very good. As the day went on, small bottlenecks were discovered and there weren’t many tops. I think in the whole day 1 there might have been 5 tops? The Q2 day was similar to the first. The route setters had smartly altered some of the bottle necks and since the separation was already done, they made the routes slightly easier on some of them resulting in a few more tops in day 2. After the dust had settled, we had 9 athletes in semi-finals. We had 2 climbers in Youth B Boys, Youth B Girls and Junior Boys with another 3 in Junior Girls. [singlepic id=546 w=500 h=350 float=centre] From the organizational standpoint, the competition went really well. There were no technical incidents throughout the competition, there were minor adjustments here and there and they had plenty of volunteers. The isolation was a small gymnasium which gave enough space for the 300 athletes and coaches. Although the warm up walls were busy, it was 3 times the size of the Singapore 2012 Youth Worlds which seem to make everyone happy. The 3rd day was the Speed day and our 8 Speed athletes went to the gym earlier than the rest. The first 3 hours of the day were their practice runs and then the real qualifiers started. Of the 8 Speed athletes, I think 6 of them posted personal best results. 3 of them also advanced to the round of 16. Coaching Speed climbing is pretty fun. I’ve always enjoyed Speed climbing and now with the official route, the times can keep going faster and faster. With the standard route, the climbers know exactly what they are going to do, hand for hand and foot by foot. I find this makes the coaching of it even easier. The biggest thing to do is point out what they’re doing wrong based on their “normal” run. This is also where track mentality will come into play. I imagine there are the 3 parts of any Speed race as well; the start, middle and finish. Although I’m still learning how to coach Speed better and better, I find we do quite a good job with what we have. In the round of 16, sadly none of athletes advanced to round of 8. After it was over, our best place was 11th by Alison Stewart-Patterson. [singlepic id=547 w=500 h=350 float=centre] For the lead athletes in semifinals, the Speed day was a rest day. They all came to support our Speed athletes and tried to rest in the Canadian tent and stay out of the sun. The next morning, we were back in the buses heading to semifinals isolation. They had a standard warm-up, preview and slowly went out one by one. My job in semi-finals was to discuss with the climbers when they got back from preview. I knew where the semifinal lines were and what type of holds they were using. Along with the angles of the lines, I could imagine what type of routes there would be (compression, technical, powerful, endurance). I tried to point out little things about the routes that would put the climbers a bit more in confidence. I stayed in isolation until our last climber went out so I only got to watch one climber. When I went out and asked how we had done with our first 8 climbers the said that we were doing really well. We also had 2 climbers that were in first place with about half the category done. I watched our last climber climb and waited for the rest to past. The hype was high and I knew how many climbers had to fall for our athletes to advance to finals. By the end, not enough climbers had fallen and it looked like we wouldn’t have any climbers in finals. Our best results were Iyma Lamarche in junior girls placing 10th and Lucas Uchida in Youth B Boys placing 11th. Of our 9 athletes in semifinals, 8 of them went up in rankings with 1 of them staying the same. The 9 we had in semi-finals was the best result we’ve had since Ecuador back in 2007 where we had 3 in finals! I hope the upward trend that we set will keep on growing heading into 2014. We stayed around until the finals and watched it as most of the team was running around trading t-shirts. As we didn’t have any Canadians in finals, I offered to help Dan commentate the live stream for the IFSC. I had done it last year in Singapore and had a great time doing it. They accepted so I spent the finals just under the routes helping with how the routes were going. It was great and if you didn’t get a chance to hear it, here’s the link to the replay. I’d love to know how I did as well so if I do it in the future I know what to work on! Let me know what I did well too so I know to repeat some stuff hopefully.

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Comments (8)

  • Avatar

    Andres

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    Hey Sean, I really like your blog, but just a tip: it’s Colombia, not Columbia

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I make this error far too often, thanks.

      Reply

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    Allie Warren

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    I was in victoria watching worlds for qualifiers and then I watched the live feed for semifinals and finals, and I actually found the live feed better in some ways. On the live feed I was able to see the routes up closer and I found the commentary better. I thought your commentary was very good- it was great how accurately you commented on when a climber was getting pumped (even which arm was pumped) and when they would fall. I also found it helpful when you reported if a climber had a new high point and when you said if a climber did a move differently or followed the expected beta.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Dina

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    Hei! You commenting during Singapore World Youth Championships 2012 basically lead me to this year’s live stream of the World Youth Championsip finals in Canada – you are So good in that role, very observant, kind and cheerful, and not overly talkative, just enough. Your vast experience as a climber definitely is what makes you a particularly good commentator. Thanks! You’re an inspiration! Keep up the good work! & the best of luck in the coming competitions!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Graham

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    Hi Sean…random question: What pants are you wearing in the picture ‘redqualifimst’?

    Good luck in Munich!

    Reply

  • A Very Busy August | Sean McColl

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    […] been a few weeks now since the Youth World Championships in Canada and I’m still going through what a cool event it […]

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