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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Hamilton Finals

Qualification and Semi final recap can be found HERE.

As I stepped into finals isolation, I felt strong. I was still warm from the semi-final round. In between the two rounds, I had gotten something to eat, relaxed and played an online game with my cousin back in Vancouver. It was nice to just relax and get away from the competition for a bit. Now it was time to get back into the competition, I still had 4 boulder problems to do.

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Soon enough, we were all warmed up heading out for presentation and observation. Being the lone Canadian in finals, I have to admit the cheers for me were maybe the biggest, at least among the men. We previewed the 4 boulders and they looked interesting. The first one was a slab corner with a dyno. The second one looked like a normal boulder. The third one was the strangest. It was a roof problem into a mantle. The roof was mainly just pressing out with your hands and looked a bit uncomfortable. The 4th and last boulder looked the best. Some crimps at the beginning, then some campusing and an easy top.

After digesting the 4 boulders, we started on boulder one. I was 5th out and got to climb the round with Shauna Coxsey from Great Britain. We had also climbed together in semi-finals and I had done pretty well. Among the girls, she gets a lot of love from the crowd, so I imagined that us climbing together could really generate some noise.

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Of the first four men, no one had done the boulder. I came out and was pretty eager. I started reverse and had some trouble standing up. Once I was there, I flashed bonus but fell on the dyno. The second time I started the boulder the stand-up was painfully easy. The dyno was still the crux move for me. I got there another handful of times and was so so close. My last two tries were the best and I was mere millimetres away from sticking the jump. Jan Hojer who climbed just after me was the only male to complete boulder one.

On boulder two, I could tell that most of them had done the boulder with the exception of Rustam Gelmanov; I went out knowing it was possible. I spent most of time figuring out how to do the first move. What bugged me the most about the problem was that it seemed so much easier if you were tall. I try to forget about it and just focus on the boulder. Eventually I stuck the first move and fell on the next. From there I knew how to do the first move, it was a sort of double dyno. I waited for my last attempt and went. I stuck the first move and knew it would be my last try. I stuck the weird foot movement and moved into the big feature that was bonus. From there, there wasn’t a lot keeping me on the wall. You couldn’t really grab the holds, and the next one was a feature pinch. I moved my heel to a toe and the next one looked far. I had to jump for it but when I jumped I knew I wasn’t going to stick it. I tried my best but slowly slipped off. I was devastated; I knew no one else who got there had fallen. I could feel the anger setting in as I ran the numbers through my head. I grabbed my chalk bag, did my best to smile, gave a little wave to the crowd and went back to the isolation.

Boulder 2 (all queued up)

The next 20 minutes were hard for me. I was the maddest I’ve been in my whole competition career and I’ve done over 100 competitions. I knew Jan had two tops, and another 3 competitors had 1. It was going to take a huge comeback for me to be in the top-3. The part that made me so angry was that I couldn’t shake the concept of being screwed over by my height. I took the 4 climbers that had done the boulder (James Kassay 6”0, Jan Hojer 6”0, Jongwon Chon Fellow 5”11, Guillaume Glairon-Mondet 5”10) and compared it to the climbers who hadn’t done it (Rustam Gelmanov 5”6, myself 5”6 ½). I imagined that the tall climbers could keep their foot on for the move that I fell and it was the jump that hosed me. I sat there in my self-pity for what seemed to be a long time. No one talked to me, which was probably a good thing. After a while, I tried to re-focus. I was in Canada competing in a world cup and I was already in finals. I kept telling myself that the crowd didn’t care where I finished, just that they got a good show, or something like that. It made me feel better. I’d be a huge hypocrite if I just gave up; I’m always telling people to enjoy the process, enjoy being in finals and smile and wave. I promised myself I would enjoy the last two boulders no matter what happened. I could tell the 3rd problem was hard, but still getting done. Because I had no tops, I wasn’t really looking at how fast anyone did it, mostly just if they were doing it or not. I knew the boulder was possible so I tried to think of that.

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I went out and running on the mats, taking in the crowd and waving made me feel better. I took a few deep breaths and tried to focus on the boulder at hand. It was a reverse start and something I haven’t really done in competition. It was basically traversing facing the crowd into a mantle. I did the first few moves much easier than I had thought and was close to the lip. I found some cool positions and went toe hook feet first into the bonus. I felt like I was climbing smart and efficient. Now came time for the mantle. I threw my right foot over the volume because that’s my strong side. I went from feeling good, to feeling awkward to a struggling feeling. It wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting high enough. I grabbed the intermediate but it didn’t do anything. I made the decision, it was time to reverse. Reversing the movement was just as hard as going up in the first place; I had now been climbing for roughly a minute. I wrapped my legs around the massive hold and steadied my breathing. It was time for the other leg, my “weaker” side. I did similar movements and it didn’t seem to be working any better. I finally got so tired, I couldn’t really move anymore. I looked up and the final hold was in reach. I knew the whole time I was mantling that the hard part would be matching the final hold, not just 1-handing it. I reached up and the last hold was bad as expected. I was pleasantly surprised that the bolt hole felt sharp. I clenched my whole body on the volume and released my right hand. I knew I was going to do it, unless something crazy slipped. I matched the final hold and let out a big roar. I had topped a problem and was thrilled. After the match I just leaned backwards and fell on my back. The crowd was going crazy and I was exhausted. I got up and could feel the energy from the crowd; they were feeding off my struggle and rewarding me with cheers.

Problem 3 (all queued up)

With the one flash, a lot came back into play. On top of it, Jan couldn’t do the mantle which brought the Gold medal position back into play. From what I had gathered, Gui-Gui Jan and Jongwon had 2 tops in whatever. I was in 4th with a flash, but James also had a top. Rustam hadn’t had a great finals yet with 0 tops. As the competitors started the last boulder, the math became easier and easier. Gui-Gui was first and sent the boulder. He had 3 tops and would beat me for sure. Rustam flashed it as well, but I was still ahead of him. I thought James had 2 tops, but in reality he had one. Jongwon also couldn’t do the last problem which opened up the podium for me. I just had to do the boulder and I’d be on the podium. In my mind I was shooting for 3rd, because I knew Jan would also do the boulder.

I came out and I was motivated. It was one of those boulders where you basically have 2 tries, plus one at the very end as a maybe. I started the boulder and the first move was pretty basic. I crimped the left hand as hard as I could while jumping to the next. I grabbed the zone and reached out right. This move was going to be hard. It was a campus but I just needed to tense my right arm. Just don’t let go I said. I campused down and was now on the “crux” move. I was campusing off two good holds and I knew the next one was good as well, it was a distance thing. I started my momentum and swing in the right direction. One pump, two, on the third I knew I was going for it. Everything worked perfectly. I had enough swing to get the distance, I could feel the energy running through my body and I exploded out right. My left hand stayed on the wall and I felt a jug on my right hand. I knew the boulder was done; I had done it, a podium after such a crushing start.

Problem 4 (all queued up)

As I let go of my left hand, I was one arm campusing. I clenched my fist but held back too much celebrating. Save it for once I’ve matched the finish I said to myself. My left foot went up and I cruised to the finish. I matched the hold and started to scream. It was official in my mind; I had secured my 3rd spot. [singlepic id=690 w=550 float=center] I turned to face the crowd on top of my boulder and started screaming. The position was so comfortable and it was such a nice feeling looking over the crowd. Everyone was cheering and people were starting to stand up. From the presentation, I knew where my mom was sitting so I scoured the crowd and found her. The look on her face was nothing but joy. She looked so proud to see what I had just done and was close to tears. I felt like it was appropriate so I just stuck out my arm and started pointing at her. Everything was in slow motion and I couldn’t have been happier. I scream because I’m happy and shake my fist because it feels just so right in those moments. [singlepic id=694 w=550 float=center] I jumped down to Pete Woods on the MC and gave him a hi-5. I waved at the crowd, kept them cheering and passed them off to Shauna who had fallen on her last boulder. The IFSC judge Graeme Alderson told me I was in 2nd, but I knew Jan just needed a top to put me to 3rd. Jan sent the boulder 2nd try after a small slip on the first move. Funny enough that slip cost Jan the gold. [singlepic id=695 w=550 float=center] In the end Gui-gui had won his 3rd boulder world cup, Jan was 2nd and I came 3rd. Some other fun facts were that if I hadn’t of slipped off the top of boulder 2, OR had done the dyno, I would’ve won! Always fun to look to see how close it really was. On the women’s side, I had no idea what was going on. I knew all their boulders were being sent and Alex was in the lead with 4 tops in 11. Shauna fell a couple of times on their last boulder but on her last attempt put forth an amazing attempt to secure her 1st or 2nd place. Akiyo came out last, sent the boulder and secured her win. [singlepic id=696 w=550 float=center] Akiyo won with 4 tops in 5, Shauna was 2nd with 4 tops in 7 and Alex took bronze with 4 tops in 11. Full results for the MEN can be found HERE. WOMENS are HERE.

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Hamilton World Cup

This world cup was special, it was at home. I left France last Tuesday knowing I was going on a small road trip. I arrived in Toronto a few days early; I ran some errands over the days leading up to the competition and had enough time to train at Joe Rockheads. The competition started on Saturday morning with the men. I felt good coming out for qualifiers. The first boulder of the set was the weirdest. The bonus hold was only a few feet off the ground with the start holds just below that. There were no holds for a good 6 feet and then there was a bad finish hold. It wasn’t necessarily a very hard boulder, just hard to do with no beta and in less than 5 minutes. I tried to palm the wall for a couple of tries before trying a jumping method. The jumping method felt better and I did the problem on my 4th try. [singlepic id=686 w=600 float=center] The rest of the round was pretty standard. I flashed the 2nd and 5th boulders, sent the 3rd on my 3rd try and did the 4th one second go. In total I had all 5 tops in 11 tries. Only Rustam Gelmanov from Russia bested me in qualifiers by one try. I stayed until the very end of the competition and after all the dust had settled only one other Canadian made it through to the semi-finals. That one other person was Jason Holowach from Saskatoon. We had a lot of Canadians just out of semi-finals as well. Eric Sethna, Marc Eveleigh and Lucas Uchida were 23, 24 and 26th respectively. On the women’s side Celeste Wall, Elise Sethna and Beth Vince were 21, 22 and 23 respectively. It came down to redpointing only one more boulder for all of them to advance. [singlepic id=684 w=600 float=center] Semi-finals were Sunday morning and I got to isolation with my venti coffee and had 4 bite size brownies for breakfast. I sat in there for a few hours before it was my turn, but there was plenty to do. I came out for my first boulder and I could tell the crowd was going to be loud. There was a pleasant hum in the air just before coming out and I could tell people had been excited to watch Jason run through the boulders and now it was my turn. The first boulder started on some volumes and looked pretty basic. After discussing which part of the volume was the finish hold with the judge, I stepped on for the first time. I jumped left hand and I felt like I just wasn’t ready to tense up. I fell, rested for maybe 10 seconds and sent the problem second go. [singlepic id=680 w=600 float=center] The second boulder was on holds I was not a fan of; they were those dual texture low profile ones. The good part was that it was around a corner which meant compression and I’m comfortable in those types of climbs. On my flash go, I got all the way to the last move but my foot slipped as I was going for the last hold. It took me another 3 tries and almost my whole time to get up to the last move once again. When I got there, I was thinking of going with the same hand but I was worried about the foot hold. I took a split second decision to jump with the other hand and it paid off as I topped the boulder then and there! [singlepic id=682 h=430 float=right] When I saw the third boulder, I thought it was a feet first boulder. I previewed it like that and on my first try tried just that. I got into a completely upside position and it just didn’t feel like it was working. I fell straight on my back and the crowd seemed somewhat quiet. On my second try, I went straight on and the boulder worked out very well. I was soon on the bonus in the middle and in my element. There was a high heel toe cam but the last two holds were bad. I shifted my left foot from heel to toe and slowly started locking off towards the final hold. The final hold was bad and I grabbed it in 3 spots before starting to shift my feet for the match. [singlepic id=681 h=430 float=right] Once I shifted my weight into the right position, I knew I had done the boulder. I was 3 for 3 going into the last boulder but in 8 tries. They had decided to not show the scoreboard so I was competing blind so to say. It’s always better to assume you have to keep completing the boulders than to assume you’re ok for finals, not try as hard and be 7th or 8th. The last boulder had a strange start and a neat looking finish. I did a nice beached whale to start the boulder and was soon just past the bonus. Up near the top on the last 3 volumes I didn’t really know what to do. I thought it was a sort of jump because the way I tried it first felt pretty hard. Here I have to take a moment to thank and congratulate the volunteers. There were tons of kids running around, escorting athletes to the washroom, or getting them water, whatever it took. On every boulder, it seemed as if there were 2 people always ready to brush the holds. In semi-finals, when you’re one of the last to go, it’s a good thing to have. It’s more of a mental thing, but sometimes they get a bit dirty. (those dual text on SF2 for example) I even asked if one of the brushers could brush a certain hold, and jump up to blow off the chalk. He did it perfectly and I was psyched. [singlepic id=683 w=300 float=right] On my second try, I figured out how to do the last 3 moves, but when I knew I was ready to swing my feet I went just a tiny bit too fast. My left hand slipped a bit and I was on the ground. I rested as long as I could and left the ground at 40 seconds, enough for one last try. I got to the move I had fallen on last go and did it slightly slower. Once I controlled the swing, the last move was easy. I checked the clock quickly but saw there was still 14 seconds. I made sure I did everything right and completed the 4th boulder. I knew that 4 boulders would be enough for finals, there was no doubt in my mind. I waved, did a few fist pumps and thanked the crowd, they were awesome. I found out I had definitely made finals and only Jan was ahead of me. I had done it again, made finals here in Canada. I knew I still had 4 more boulders to do but I was happy. It’s a cool feeling knowing that because you’re on home soil, it pushes you to do better. People often ask me if I feel more pressure competing in Canada; even if I feel more pressure, it just helps me perform better. I don’t really feel more pressure; I’m just more motivated to prove to all the other Canadians that I can compete alongside the world’s best… Finals recap can be found HERE. Enjoy! Photos from: Bonuel Photography.

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Innsbruck World Cup

My second world cup of the season has put me on stride. Although I finished in 8th place, so much went better than in Switzerland. I felt more comfortable, climbed pretty well and didn’t make too many mistakes.

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Qualifiers were Friday morning and I was 3rd out, pretty normal. On the first try of the competition my foot slipped off the starting hold, not a great start. After that I went through the 5 boulder problems and felt confident. I ended the round with 5 tops in 8 tries, putting me in second place in my group.

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My group had easier problems in the other group and I needed to do 4 boulders to get through. In the other group 2 boulders was enough to make semi-finals. In the end, it doesn’t matter the difficulty of the boulders, only how many you need to do to make top 10 men in your group.

I came back in the afternoon to watch the girls and cheer on the other Canadians that were competing.

Semi-finals were Saturday morning and I was in isolation pretty early. I had a nice wait so I drank some coffee and just relaxed for the first couple of hours. I warmed up in normal fashion and felt good.

I didn’t like the first boulder of semifinals. It was basically a running start and press into a roof. I (as representative for the athletes) explicitly got rid of run and jump starts because they just caused problems. This brought back all those memories and just made me mad.

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After doing the dumb starting move, it took me 4 tries to stick the first hold. The reason I am so against these types of problems is because if you’re tall, you can just set yourself on the starting position, press into the start and reach out to the next hold. If you’re small, you have to run into the start so you don’t really get to pick where your limbs are. From there, you have to jump around the corner, which I find is unfair. That was problem 1, so my rant ends here.

I flashed problem two which was a very good compression boulder with plenty of volumes around a corner.

I also flashed problem three which was a weird slab with a hard last cross move on a bad sloper.

Before starting B4, I knew it was possible as the two previous competitors before me had done it in 1 or 2 tries. To my dismay, I couldn’t complete the boulder. My first try, I did a harder sequence after missing a part of a volume I wasn’t acquainted with. On my second and probably best try, I mis-judged where the good part of a sloper was and hit it too high. Even hitting it high I almost stuck the move. On my 3rd, 4th and 5th tries, I was just too tired to stick the hard move. At the end of my 5 minutes, I smiled and waved at the crowd, something I try to do regardless of my performance.

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In the end, I was 1 try out of finals. I could’ve also done the 4th problem and secured myself for finals but we know I only did 3 boulders. That was the mistake of the competition, not completing a boulder I should’ve been able to do. I just have to eat that mistake and get ready for the next competition!

I watched the finals round a few hours later in the “athletes’ area” and had a blast. In the end Shauna Coxsey from Great-Britain won her second World Cup with Anna Stohr and Akiyo Noguchi completing the podium. Kilian Fischhuber took gold for the men over a false start from Adam Ondra which cost him first place. Adam settled in at second place with Rustam Gelmanov taking third.

Full results for the men can be found HERE and for the women can be found HERE.

Next competition is on home soil in Hamilton, Canada. This competition went 50/50 for me, I was so happy to be in top-10 again and mad at myself for making small mistakes and missing finals. Looking forward to the next one so my home crowd can cheer me into finals!

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