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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Arco Rockmasters

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Arco Rockmasters; at least 4 years to be exact. In 2011 I went to the World Championships and in 2010 were the pre world championships. This past weekend I took off from Toulouse with Mathilde Becerra to compete in all 3 events; speed, bouldering and lead. It’d be 4 events if you include the duel but I kind of lump that in with lead.

Mathilde has already written her story so I’ll skip over most of her performance. You can read it on her blog. It’s written in French, but she added a Google translator similar to mine. Sometimes it translates poorly but the message is still there.

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We started on Tuesday morning, drove 5 hours into Italy and stayed the nice in a little hotel. It was nice to split up the journey in two days to avoid any fatigue. Wednesday we drove the rest of the way to Arco and Mathilde had to compete on Thursday and Friday. She did 2 lead qualifiers on Thursday followed by 5 boulder problems on Friday. She qualified for both events as well which meant she had a 4 day weekend compared to my 2. Another great thing about Arco is the Ice Cream as noted on the right by Panda.

My events started on Saturday morning with an early breakfast and even a run to the competition. Yes, I actually ran to the competition. It felt nice to be running at 7am and I knew cardio is essential for speed warm-up. With the classic Arco delays, I didn’t even practice until well after 8:30. I did two practice runs; the first run I set a personal best at 9.51 and then on the second one I fell on the second to last move.

My real qualifying runs for the World Cup went super well. I’ve embedded the video of my run so you know I’m not lying when I say I shattered my personal/competition best!

8.83 seconds if you can believe it. I was through the moon with this time. It’s the first time I’ve been sub 9 and to think I don’t even train this very often makes me smile. I’ve had a few practices where I’ve tried the route and I’m seen videos of me enough times that I know where my hands and feet are going. What makes it even more fulfilling is that the Speed athletes congratulate me for my personal achievements as well! (Even though I’m “so much slower” than them)

Next were lead semifinals. The last time I was on a rope was in Imst and I didn’t make finals so I had to focus more than usual to make sure I climbed well and stayed relaxed.

The route was very hard all over the beginning and I ended up qualifying second going into finals. The finals here in Arco is a special format where you get 20 minutes to work the route and the finals is pretty much a 2nd try competition. I’d expect the route setters to open something really sweet, around 50 moves so they can make it complicated and cryptic. Maybe they could throw in a strange clock, or a dyno? While we were in isolation for 4 hours during the work session, Jakob, Magnus and Sachi came back one after another and just said it was too long. When it was my turn, I came out to a ridiculously long route. I just don’t understand why they do it. It’s almost 70 moves long and goes back and forth along the wall when the wall is already long enough. Seems dumb to me and every year I hope they’re going to learn that it’s just plain boring to watch. Here’s my video!

As it turns out, every competitor made mistakes during the final climb. Some at the beginning, some just before me and a couple after me as well. I finished 4th place just behind the podium. If you’re wondering why I fell like that, it’s because for that move I was supposed to keep my foot on the foothold. For some reason, I wasn’t concentrated enough and I tried to jump into the little crimp. I ended up jumping away from the wall and as soon as I was committed to the move I knew it was bad news. I still tried to hang on but couldn’t stick the little crimper… Oh well.

Sunday morning was another early start and I went to the boulders for another “after work” session. To keep this part short, I was pretty disappointed with the boulders. There were 4 boulders to work and in the finals it’s knockout each boulder. The catch is you don’t know in what order you will climb the boulders. I ended up trying them all just in case but the boulders just were unappealing in my opinion. Every boulder had little crimps that just hurt to grab. There wasn’t a single sloper, volumes were scarce and we were pretty sure the opening boulder would be the running start.

The moment of finals came and low and behold, run and jump was the first boulder. I had never stuck the run and jump in the work session but stuck it first go. I fell on the second move when my fingers were on the first hold very well. When I fell on the run on my second try and another couple guys topped, I didn’t even get my third try on the boulder and it was over. What really annoyed me about this first boulder is that the only hard move was the first one because you had to jump so far from the foot and the handholds really hurt your fingers. If I got through the first two moves, the rest of the boulder was relatively easy for me.

It took me just over 15 minutes from being knocked out before I started to feel happy again. It’s super frustrating when that sort of thing happens but life goes on and I know that. Next on my plate was the duel in lead so I watched the rest of bouldering finals and then started getting psyched up for speed lead climbing!

First race in duel was against Dmitry Fakiryanov and I had a time of 1:52. I could tell that by halfway I was ahead so I made sure I climbed the route well and didn’t fall. My second race was against Magnus Midboe and the last time I dueled it was him that knocked me out! We both had great starts but by the roof I could see I was ahead by a bit and didn’t have to race through the last few moves. I sent me second route at 1:29. My last race was against Stefano Ghisolfi who I knew knocked out Jakob Schubert in the first round. It was stressful but here’s the video:

It was a close race and we both messed up the clips before the roof. It’s really hard when you’re behind by a little bit because you say to yourself you need to go a bit faster to catch up. The instant you start to think that, something always goes wrong and you spend 5-10 seconds clipping. In this format, most of the time is spent clipping and sometimes you’re just not lucky with that sort of thing.

It’s also the first time that I’ve gotten a gold medal here at the Arco Rockmasters which is a great feeling! The first time I did duel, I came 2nd to none other than Adam Ondra!

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After the 3-4 event marathon I did, I’ve spent the last couple of days just resting, sleeping, eating and gaming. My next appointment is in Stuttgart for the Adidas Rockstars this coming weekend!

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Comments (2)

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    Congrats – and great post! I have to agree re: speed. Your time, given you don’t train in the discipline, is proof of what a great athlete you are.


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      Lucas Rocha


      agree…. i´m a huge fan from Brazil. Your vibe is amazing when you climb…your training videos keep my vibe high to keep going….
      see ´ya


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