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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Puurs Lead World Cup

Another weekend has passed and with it the World Cup in Puurs, Belgium. The event went incredible for me; I had my ups and downs but kept advancing in good position and managed to attain my first Lead World Cup podium of the season!

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My weekend starts with a Thursday afternoon flight from Toulouse. It was direct which made it very easy. One of many great things from this competition is that they arrange transportation for the whole weekend. For me without a car this makes my life much easier. I got a ride from the airport to the hotel on Thursday and back and forth from the competition all weekend! Thanks “Guardian Angel Service” as they so name it.

Qualifiers were on Friday and there’s nothing big to report here. I was 6th out and the first to top the black “right” route. It was speculated to be easier than the left and after a 2 hour break I was on the left one which I managed to top as well. The most important thing for me is that I was feeling good. I felt like I could stop, pause and take a look up the wall which is not always the circumstance. I know I can always climb quickly and efficiently; the hard part for me is when the route forces you to rest because of the nature of the climbing. All in all I was feeling good and excited for the semifinals and always hoping to be in finals!

Semifinals were Saturday morning and everything went normal. I’m so used to these weekends. Travel one day, 2 qualifiers the next, rest and then back for another couple of routes on the final day. I love it and I’ve developed such a rhythm it’s easy going through the motions. At the same time, I love going through these motions and would do it over and over and over again!

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The semis route took a line up the left side of the cave starting in the vertical. We thought it would be easy at the beginning and then get harder as we got towards the top. Nothing looked too complicated except a part in the very middle of the route. The feet were quite far and it just looked strange, most likely on pockets. My turn came quickly and I was excited. I started the route quickly as expected but had to slow down right away when I realized the beginning was actually pretty hard. They were the type of moves where you had to do them relatively slowly because you could slip at any time. I completed the first third and felt good, but wasn’t statistically “fast” for my normal climbing. I felt good which is what counts.

The hardest part came in the middle when I didn’t really know what to do. My first instinct didn’t work (a big cross) and the next foot hold was too far. I then thought about matching because going again was also too far. When I couldn’t match, FEAR set in. Maybe not fear as in scared but I knew I had to make a decision rather quickly or I wouldn’t be able to climb the rest of the route even if I got through this small section. I decided to do a 360 campus… It worked, better than I had originally thought as well. I knew the rope would get in the way so I swung it around my foot before completing the turn. A few seconds later I was past that part and tried to refocus on the route. I did well and end up falling off the second to last move. It was good enough for finals which made me even happier with how I climbed. Onto finals!

Here’s my climb!

On a side note, I was very happy to be in finals. The last two official “world cups” I had missed finals and although I try not to think about it, it’s always there tugging at me. Two WC’s ago was the one in Kranj where I was sick after doing 9 competitions (on 4 continents) on back to back weekends… The most recent was in Imst where I think I didn’t rest enough from my intense training. That was all behind me now that I had achieved my small win of being in finals once again!

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Finals were strange to keep it brief. We came out to preview and thought the route looked pretty normal. One thing to keep in mind is that I qualified 6th and the next 5 climbers were all tied. That is to say “time” would be the separator for them if they should tie in finals. In preview there was one spot in particular we were all a bit stuck on. As it turns out that is the “crucial” spot on the route and of the 9 competitors in finals it was tried a shockingly 3 different ways.

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I started my route and it felt hard right off the bat. Not hard like “omg I’m going to fall” but hard enough to feel the difference. I pretty quickly got to the half way mark just below the mini-crux. I glanced up and it looked like the way we thought it would work would indeed be fine. I clipped, grabbed one hold and crossed under. Something was wrong, it felt so hard… Always a bad sign as a bouldery route climber such as myself. I went down a move to give another overview of the sequence. With my heel hook in for the rest, I thought that was the key. I kept my heel in for the cross and committed to the move.

Once I let go with my left hand, I was 100% committed. I jumped across towards the left and knew the move was hard. What I had NOT anticipated is my right hand coming off. My right hand came off the shoulder hold and although I grabbed the left hand pretty well, I thought I’d be falling in a second. When I swung and my left hand stuck, I was baffled… I swung out and then starting swinging in and I was again convinced I was going to fall on the in-swing. I looked right and saw the previous hold as my hand shot as quickly as possible towards it. Even when I stuck that hold again, my feet weren’t on the wall and I thought I’d fall because there were no footholds. I got it on the volume and it was until my right hand came into the next hold that I knew I had gotten past that epic of a sequence.

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I was running on pure adrenaline and I knew I was tired. The next 5 moves were all about power so I did just that. I could even feel that the big undercling would’ve been a rest but I was past that point and I needed to keep going. I snuck a heel hook in over my hand, clipped the draw and kept climbing. I did the next two moves and knew it was over. As I looked up and saw the hold was a mile away I just jumped and touched it. When I touched it, it felt like it was pretty good but I was already falling, and smiling…

As I fell and swung, I tried to remember what I had done in the middle. Something weird with swinging on one arm then not believing I was still on the wall. Even as I write this post, I can’t really explain how it happened. I have convinced myself it’s because of the Boulder World Cups and a move like that is just normal. On top of that, I really like moves where you have to catch small holds with one hand.

Either way, I was being lowered, happy and smiling. To top it off, I was in 1st place after 4 climbers with another 5 to come. In my head I knew I was top-6 and my place in Puurs have been 6th, 6th and 5th. With the crazy move in the middle, it was really a craps shoot to who would be able to pass it.

Here’s my finals climb if you missed it 🙂

As it turns out Magnus Midtboe and Ramonet would fall on the jump and the other 3 would complete it. Sachi Amma from Japan executed a perfect two hand dyno after taking 4 minutes to get there! Jakob Schubert and Romain Desgranges had the best method for that move. Although I know it helped because they were tall, they could keep their foot on the small foothold thus eliminating the big swing. Romain looked the strongest after that part but unfortunately fell off a mere move before my highpoint. Sachi tied my highpoint thus beating me in count back and Jakob completed that move and climbed a few more before falling.

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So I was once again on the podium at a Lead world cup and my first for 2013! I was over the moon. The route was pretty crazy, I had lots of stuff roll in favour of me, I know I climbed well and sometimes you get rewarded like that. This is one of the moments and I was so happy. I knew as well that on an even crazier day, I’d be able to climb one move to beat Sachi and Jakob might mess up the dyno! It’s a funny way to think but in a competition anything can happen! On days where you win, of course you know you climbed well but there is always something else that happened that helped…

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On the women’s side, although I only got to see half of the finalists Jain Kim from Korea in unique fashion topped the finals route to take the win. I was confused to whether Mina Markovic from Slovenia timed out or used a bolt as a foot but she took the silver medal after also topping. Momoka Oda from Japan would take the bronze.

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Comments (8)

  • Avatar

    spicelab

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    Nice work, and great write-up as always.

    Be good to know exactly what the setters intended with that move. Sachi’s method actually looked the most orthodox even though it came with the highest risk.

    On to more important matters – what’s the beer you’re brandishing on the podium? Is it a La Chouffe or something else?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      Yes, I think they set a double hand dyno. If you executed it well, I think the move was relatively easy. As for the beer, they told me a it was a special Belgian beer. Don’t know what it was called though and we drank it at the afterparty 😉

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Nehbur

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    Did you like the routesetting at Puurs? I always watch most world cups and from the viewers perspective the routes in Puurs always look so spectaculair and gracious at the same time. Whats your thought on this?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I actually have always loved it. I find the route are long, but at the same time technical and powerful. It always feels like I have to be careful with what I do and the atmosphere is good.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    john

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    Nice write-up.

    Will you be competing in Russia?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      No I will not. The Visa is a nearly impossible task being Canadian in Europe and it was too expensive to fly to Russia!

      Reply

      • Avatar

        John Meget

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        Seems like a good reason not to hold the event in Russia.

        Reply

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