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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Another Day At The Office

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As a professional athlete, a rock climber to be more specific I am very grateful and lucky to have such cool experiences. A good friend and coach of mine Mike Doyle named one of his routes A.D.A.T.O. which stands for “Another Day At The Office”. Whenever I’m climbing outside or on a cool trip, I try to remember that my office is constantly changing and many would love to be in my position. I love what I do and I work hard to make sure I can continue doing it! Another cool fact is that Josie Hetyei from Vancouver just became the first Canadian Women to redpoint 5.14b by doing ADATO!!!

Over the past week I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve been at the World Cup in Briancon France, climbed in Ceuse and got to test out a new knee-pad by SEND Climbing.

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Before I left, I received my knee-pad which I’ve been pretty excited to try out. It’s too bad I didn’t have it while trying Hubble 8c+ up in the UK but at least if I go back I’ll have something for that task. I broke it in a bit at the gym and my first impression was just how well it strapped to my leg. I’ve always hated knee-pads that you have to put on from your foot because everyone’s leg is a different size. With the buckles on this kneepad, you don’t need to take your shoes off or anything and it could be the last thing you put on before a climb! I’ll talk more about the knee-pad with my adventures in Ceuse.

Briancon was the weekend of the 19-20 and a cool part of the weekend was that the Tour De France was going through the town on the same day as the qualifiers. There was also a big chance of rain and storms so they chose to move the semi-finals to the first day. There wasn’t too much of a surprise in qualifiers. As it was almost the same route setting team as in Chamonix, they were hard qualifiers. Of all the routes, there was only 4 tops, 3 on one of the women’s routes. The slightly poor result of the qualification was that 2 of the routes were “impossible” or merely not done on that particular day.

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On my first route which was out right, I knew the top 6 moves were very hard. Because it’s flash, I chose prior to my attempt to skip the last draw all the way until the last move. I chose this because I was wondering if I’d fall if I clipped. In the end, I kept advancing on the route, had a huge run out for the last draw but still managed to clip it and tag the final jug. If the route had been a semi-final or final, I would’ve just clipped earlier and probably topped the route.

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Because I chose to skip the draw, I eventually had to clip on the second to last hold in a slightly awkward position. Once I had done the clip, I couldn’t go back to rest so I just looked up and the last hold seemed pretty far. I jumped but didn’t think I’d get the distance. When I DID get the distance, I wasn’t anticipating having to catch anything so I fell out of a jug!

I was the last competitor on my second route and got up near the top in 6th position or something. The left route was much less enjoyable to climb as I was the 74th competitor to touch the first 20 moves and it felt like they were so slippery.

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Semi-finals were later that evening as the weather forecast for day 2 was terrible. I went out 20th and the route looked similar to that of a final. I climbed pretty well and only got bogged down on one move in the roof after I was convinced my foot had to go high. I got to a big yellow hold as an undercling and knew the next move was going to be hard. I found a hand-foot match heel hook and grabbed the next hold out of sequence. From there I could easily clip the draw. As I was a little pumped, I was trying to think quickly. I knew I had to have my left hand on the hold, but there 3 different methods possible, two of which were crazier than the obvious. I could match hands (risky), I could match hands out left and cross (less risky, but still not what the route setter had intended), or I could do it as the route setter intended and go off the big yellow undercling. I chose the third one because I thought I would do the move. As I was coming in, my left foot came off at the last moment, followed by my hand.

I wasn’t happy with how I climbed that last move, but was very happy with the rest of the route. On top of that I wasn’t too pumped and I think I could’ve done at least a few more moves. Such is life and I was wailing off the wall. My try was over and the crowd was cheering. Unable to know if I was in finals or not, it changed nothing, my attempt was over. I waved at the crowd as I always do and smiled for my love of competing. It’s in these moments where luck plays a small part in competition. If I climb perfectly, I usually advance to finals. Here I didn’t climb perfectly, but there was still a chance that others also made errors. After finding out the results, I was indeed in finals!

As you probably already know, the finals for the World Cup had to be cancelled due to bad weather. The next day, it rained most of the day and the wall was pretty wet. We were all in isolation waiting for the wall to dry out when a lightning storm started. The lightning got closer and closer until finally struck the building next to the wall. Our whole block of power went out and we were in the dark. 5 minutes later, the organizers came in and said they had to cancel the finals.

It’s very unfortunate to have finals cancelled especially for me because I normally thrive in finals. In semi-finals, most of us are just trying to “make” the next round so we aren’t taking many risks. In Finals, everything is on the table and normally climbers who take good calculated risks come out on top. They took the results of the semi-finals so I finished in 6th place. Sachi Amma from Japan took his second victory of the season and Romain Desgranges from France and Jakob Schubert from Austria completed the podium. This was Romain’s first Silver medal so that was pretty cool to see.

On the women’s side, Jain took her 3rd straight victory of the season with Magdalena Rock and Anak Verhoeven taking second and third.

Full results for MEN here, and WOMEN here.

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After Briancon, we took off to Ceuse for a few days and it was so much fun. I have so many good memories of being in Ceuse with JJ Mah and Marshal German from our Europe trip in 2008 that they all came rushing back and brought so many smiles to my face. I remembered us getting lost or not having enough food and could even remember where everything had happened.

I climbed in Ceuse for 3 days, but our first and third days were only half days. I knew I wouldn’t be there long enough to try anything crazy but I worked out all the moves on “Le Cadre” as well as “Biographie”. The next photo is me at the top of Biographie setting up a static line.

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I’d love to go back there for a longer period of time, but finding the time to do that with my double world cup season is hard. I also got a chance to test out my new kneepad more.

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The knee pad starts out a bit “hard” but just like a climbing shoe after a few times using it it breaks in quite nicely. I hope I can find a route that really uses a knee bar so I can take full advantage of my new tool!

For this knee-pad, it comes in two sizes and mine is the smaller one. I thought it was a perfect size though and like I said before, the ease of which you can put it on is extremely comfortable.

Next on my plate is the World Cup in Imst which is August 1st and 2nd. After that, the trade show in Salt Lake City!!!

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By Half A Move, Twice

In the past two world cup competitions I’ve missed the final round by a mere half a movement. Such is the nature of the game when competing at a high level but it still stings to think about it. I also try to think about the times I’ve been lucky this year including my double silver medal in China! [singlepic id=726 h=350 float=right] Two weeks ago was the last Boulder World Cup of the year held in Laval France. It marked the 8th boulder world cup of the year on the season and the 7th for me. Qualifiers were a nail biter for me as I still felt like I was recovering from the China weekend 4 days prior. Getting home from China was a nightmare with 7 hours of delays to my flights including landing at an alternate airport because no one could land at the one I was supposed to land at. Eventually I did get back to my home and had days of rest before heading to Laval. As I said qualifiers were tense as I did 3 boulders in 5 tries. After watching my position fall lower and lower I was in 10th position in my group with only 10 competitors advancing to semi-finals. [singlepic id=729 h=350 float=right] I watched at least 4 other climbers climb multiple problems and if they topped it, they would knock me out. I didn’t climb well in qualifiers but it was still a stressful hour. By the end of the day, I would be the ONLY climber advancing to semis with only 3 boulders. In semi-finals, I climbed well but fell off the final move of the first slab boulder. I did the other 3 boulders in 5 tries. That last move of the first boulder cost me my finals and to make finals you merely had to top the 4 boulders. It sucked to finish in 7th place, one out of finals but in the end I just couldn’t do that last move and it cost me. In Finals for the men would be Jan Hojer, Rustam Gelmanov and 4 French athletes. There was a lot of chatter about how so many French made it to finals but that’s not what this post is about. [singlepic id=730 w=500 h= float=center] I watched a pretty interesting finals for both men and women and in the end Rustam was the only man to send 4 boulders and Akiyo Noguchi sent the women’s 4th boulder to secure her victory. For the Overall it was also Akiyo who won and for the men it was Jan. This past weekend was the 2nd lead world cup in Chamonix France and I had a good week to get back to lead training. It’s always the hardest in the first two weeks of lead training but the last training day before Chamonix I finally had my small breakthrough and felt confident doing my circuits. In China I knew I had gotten lucky and I felt like I would be able to climb more normally for my style here in Chamonix. Joining me in France would be Elan Jonas-Mcrae and Matthew Wellington for lead and Robert Stewart-Patterson for Speed. [singlepic id=731 w=500 h= float=center] The qualifiers went super well for me and by the end of that day I was in 2nd place. Unfortunately none of the other Canadian athletes made the semi-finals. Speed qualifiers were the second day and everyone felt like the holds just seemed better at this competition. In the qualifying round, I set a close to personal best with 9.11 (pb = 8.83) and Robert set his personal best of 6.80. The world records for both men and women were also achieved but unfortunately the wall didn’t pass the homologation so the times cannot be official and will not be written to the books. Semi-finals for lead were Saturday morning and it was much warmer than during the qualifications. That’s a good thing because most people got frozen fingers during the qualification. After preview, we knew the route looked hard but we weren’t expecting what we got when we climbed it. I was 2nd to last out and the route was insanely hard right off the bat. Everyone move seemed hard and uncomfortable. I climbed up near half way before royally messing up a sequence and falling. The hard and annoying part was that I previewed it the “right” way, but chose to adapt my sequence while climbing and it turned out to be my failure. Here’s the live stream queued up to my start. There were also another 7-8 competitors who made the same error as me so that made me feel better. I also found out a while later that while I was messing up the sequence, if I would have just faked a match and jumped towards the next hold, I would’ve gotten the “plus” and advanced to finals. That made me a bit sad but the thing was I wasn’t too tired when I was messing up the sequence. I thought I could reverse it and keep going. If I would’ve been really pumped, I would’ve just jumped for the next hold but instead I tried to do the movement and it cost me the finals. It’s unfortunate but that’s just the nature of competitions! This time I was unlucky but I still feel like I’m climbing very well so I’m pretty excited for the next world cup which is next week in Briancon!

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