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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Riom French Cup

This past weekend I went to Riom to compete in a local French Cup. It was a lead competition which is a bit strange for me during this part of the year. Mathilde needed to be on the podium to secure a birth in the World Cups this year. Yes, I’m in bouldering mode, but I knew the gym wasn’t too high (roughly 13m) which meant bouldery routes. For me, there was two ways of looking at this. The first is that it would put me in the mentality of lead climbing; I wasn’t looking forward to this part of it because during bouldering season I remind myself all the time that in bouldering you need to take risks and try hard. When I switch to route mode, I’m trying to climb efficiently and make very calculated decisions. The second way of looking at it, as I tried to, was to take this competition as a weekend to try world cup class route setting, and it’s nice to see my friends as well. Both qualifiers were good, the first was in a vertical wall so it was a bit nerve racking. Mathilde and I both topped our qualifiers and had a nice pizza dinner with her parents. Semi finals were Sunday morning and again Mathilde topped, being only 1 of two girls to do so. The other women to top was Helene Janicot who has competed on the World Cup series for the past few years. I didn’t top my semi finals route but there was a really hard move near the top. It kind of took me by surprise because it was only the semi finals and I fell. Another 3 competitors who were tied with me also fell on that move. Finals were in the afternoon and because I was tied for first I actually went out 4th last. My finals route was very nice, a world cup style contender. It had a delicate vertical section to start it off, a dyno to get into the roof, then a long rightwards leaning traverse, a small downclimb and then the last 15 moves. Overall the route went perfect for me. I don’t have any endurance right now so it feels like I slam into a wall when I get pumped. I got halfway and felt pretty good. The clips are the hardest part and there were a lot of them… I worked quickly through the whole route and got past the down climb section, I was pumped. I almost fell on a few moves through the overhang but managed to burl my way through them. I fell on the last headwall with maybe 10 moves to go. It was the best I was going to do on that route, hands down. I fell, was smiling, laughing and wondering what the other climbers could do. As it turns out, the route was bouldery enough to secure my victory. Gauthier Supper looked better than anyone else through the whole route but had a weird foot slip after finishing the downclimbing section, he would finish 3rd. Romain Desgranges would take second place after having a hard time with the traverse and not finding a good enough rest to recover. [singlepic id=671 w=600 h= float=center] On the womens side, I actually got to watch quite a few of them climb. I knew that the highpoint was the 4th to last hold with a solid and I was nervous watching Mathilde. She climbed very well up to the top and didn’t make any errors I could identify. On the last few moves, she didn’t look comfortable on the compression. She did an alternate sequence when she realized she couldn’t do one of the moves and locked off to the second to last hold. She stuck the hold but was now in an impossible position to move from. She went to re-adjust the hold and fell. The last climber Helene got through the compression bit but fell two moves later, only slapping the hold that Mathilde stuck. I knew Mathilde had won because I knew IFSC rules. There was an awkward 10 minutes when the judges didn’t want to give her control, but I really didn’t understand why. We wrote the appeal and it went through, Mathilde had won for the women! [singlepic id=672 w=600 h= float=center] It was a bit strange, Helene had done more moves and climbed better on the route, but Mathilde had stuck a hold that was worth more points, a small route setting error in the end. Brilliant of Mathilde to see the skip and unfortunate for Helene.

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