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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

The Last Boulder WC of 2013

The last Bouldering World Cup of 2013 was in Munich this past weekend; the competition would not only give a victory to yet another new athlete but also decide the overall rankings for 2013. I came straight from Vancouver on the 22nd and after a solid 10 hour flight I was in Munich at my hotel and prepping for the competition. I stayed in the official hotel mostly because there were free shuttles between that and the venue. Since I didn’t have a car this weekend, I was pretty stuck either at the competition or at the hotel. Throughout the weekend I actually got pretty lucky with people I knew from the competition giving me rides (most notably the Swiss Team, thanks!) [singlepic id=555 w=500 h=350 float=center] Joining me at the final stage of the season was fellow Canadians Sebastian Lazure, Marieta Akalski, Jelisa Dunbar and Thomasina Pidgeon. There was no shuttle for the technical meeting so I chilled in my room, tried to adjust with jet lag and finally slept for qualifiers. The men were in the morning with the women’s in the late afternoon. The qualifiers went very well for me. I “dropped” to 2nd in the World Ranking but since there were two groups I still went out first in one of the groups. It’s always a big strange going in the first 4-5 climbers in the groups. You never know if the boulders are going to be easy or hard. You just have to relax, climb well and hopefully top some boulders. I’ve seen qualifications in World Cups where 4 bonuses get you through the semis. On the opposite side, I’ve seen people do all 5 boulders and not advance. We all try not to think about this and just climb and have fun. I’ve by default hidden my qualifierse recap if you want to skip to semis! Click the “Show Me” to expand it. I qualified first in my group tied with Thomas. [singlepic id=558 w=500 h=350 float=center] In the afternoon, the girls went and they were all spaced by enough climbers that by the time Marieta got to the third problem, we had 3 Canadians all climbing at the same time! Jelisa even managed to top her first world cup problem finishing the best of our girls at 38th. Semifinals were the next morning and I did everything the same as the qualifiers. Pretty soon I was ready to do the first boulder. The first one was weird, a sideways traverse to a jump finish. It took me 5 tries to do the problem, but I eventually figured it out. What sucked is that a lot of climbers skipped every hold and just climbed up the corner from the start holds to the finish. That was a small mistake by the route setters. [singlepic id=560 w=300 h=450 float=right] The second boulder was straight slab. It didn’t look complicated but I didn’t figure it out in time. I spent some time trying to crimp the edge, my foot slipped a couple times and the one time I was close to doing the boulder, I was just too tired. I had to walk away from that one underachieved. It was also hard trying that boulder knowing that the climber just before me, Kilian Fischhuber, also couldn’t do it. Third boulder was the nicest of the round. My hands kind of dry fired on the second move and I sent it second go. Just before going back behind the wall, I checked the scoreboard and knew I had to top the last boulder to make finals. I thought only 1 or 2, or maybe no one had done the last boulder but in my mind I told myself it was possible. I had to! It turns out the 4th boulder was impossible. Well at least in 5 minutes for those 20 athletes… I tried very hard and I felt like I was close. It was a weird mantle with a jump finish. Another mistake by the route setters was the the “only” way to do the boulder was to crimp the edge of the volume and mantle like that. Unfortunate for me and as my time ran out, I knew I’d be finishing 8th. I thought about the incredible season that I’ve already had and the fact that I still loved competing. I was disappointed about missing finals, but happy to be here, doing what I love and competing. I waved at the crowd one last time, knowing the 2013 World Cup Season was coming to a close! Overall, the semis were hard; I made a couple small mistakes that cost me the finals but still finished 8th. [singlepic id=559 w=500 h=350 float=center] Not a bad round, not a good round, but just outside the finals once again! It’s a big frustrating when you know you’re out of finals, but I realized all this very quickly. When I checked the results closer, a lot of the very strong climbers who are normally in finals were also out. Kilian Fischhuber and Jakob Schubert from Austria finished 14th and 10th respectively. Cedric Lachat from Switzerland was 11th and German favourite Jan Hojer was 7th. The final round was very good (barring Men’s problem 1) and exciting all the way to the last competitor. After all the dust had settled, Anna Stohr had won her 7th World Cup of 2013 with Alex Puccio and Shauna Coxsey completing the podium. On the men’s side, underdog Rei Sugimoto had an amazing finals and took his first victory (and first podium) with Thomas Tauporn and Rustam Gelmanov completing the podium on that side. Mens Results HERE Womens Results HERE Between semifinals and finals, I had 4 hours so I crunched the numbers for the overall 2013 Bouldering World Cup. Everyone knew that Dimitrii had won even before the competition but 2nd and 3rd were up for grabs. When I finished 8th, I didn’t think I had a short anymore but most interestingly I was still in the race. The race before the competition started was between 6 different athletes (Me, Jakob, Guillaume, Jorg, Rustam and Kilian). All 6 of us had enough points to be 2nd or 3rd which was pretty exciting. Of those 6 people, 2 missed semis and another 3 missed finals. I crunched the numbers and found Jakob in second with me in third. The only one with an unknown number was Rustam! I had to check all 6 places for Rustam and what I found was pretty interesting. If Rustam was 1st, he’d come 2nd in the overall and for every place he went down in finals, he dropped one place in the overall. (To 5th place overall). Complicated, yes. I watched the finals without caring too much about how he was doing, but when I realized he was only able to be 3rd or 4th in the finals, I knew I had come 3rd in the overall rankings! [singlepic id=557 w=500 h=350 float=center] Mens Overall Rankings HERE Womens Overall Rankings HERE This is the overall podium for the women! [singlepic id=561 w=500 h=350 float=center] This was the first time I’ve been on the podium for one single event. I’ve finished in 2nd place (twice, 2011, 2012) in the Overall world cup rankings that take the top-5 finishes from Lead, Speed and Boulder but I’ve never been top-3 in one individually. I also end up missing one or two world cups every year in every discipline which usually makes the overall title hard for me to be competitive for. Even this year I didn’t go the first one of the year which means that would be the one that I got to drop. It’s never been much of a goal of mine to be on the overall podium but it was a really feeling regardless. It’s nice to have that personal achievement of 3rd place in the 2013 Bouldering circuit! After a pretty good after-party which included dinner and free beer, I traveled back to France where I get a nice rest for just over 10 days. I’ve been traveling for almost 30 days now including my trips to Colombia, Austria, Canada and then Munich! I’ll be heading to the Gorges Du Tarn this weekend once again to try a couple projects I spotted last time I was there!

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Imst WC and Youth World Championships

After the World Games in Colombia I haven’t even been back to my home in France. I flew directly to Innsbruck to attend the World Cup in Imst. [singlepic id=552 w=300 h=450 float=right] All in all, the competition wasn’t so great for me. It was the first time competing on the gigantic wall outside and I knew it was going to be tough; it was anti-style so to say. I knew the routes were going to be endurance based without many cruxes. My strengths in lead climbing rely on boulder style routes and quick decision making in the 40 move range. When I won my first lead world cup in Slovenia in 2011, I only climbed 35 moves! The qualifiers went alright; I came off the 3rd to last move on Q1 and similar on Q2. I was tied for 3rd moving into the semi-finals. The semi-final round went worse than the Qualifiers. It’s hard to say anything than what it really was. I didn’t climb very well, the route wasn’t great for me and I didn’t get very “lucky” at all. [singlepic id=551 w=300 h=450 float=right] The first half of the route was very easy and I felt like I was bouldering too much through it. I didn’t relax on the holds, climb efficiently or smoothly. This was reinforced when my good Dutch friend Jorg Verhoeven and my girlfriend Mathilde Becerra mentioned those above points. I got halfway up the route and climbed the compression part quite poorly. Just after there was a small rest but I was too pumped to even do the clip. I fell on the next move. Looking back, I was only 1 move away from finals. On a “better” day, I’d just bear down and climb one more move. I finished 10th place and sadly out of finals; still a top-10 finish but not what I aim for! Another thing that I’ve tried to work on since then is clipping. I feel like my clipping is sub-par because I train on circuits all year and don’t clip physical bolts. I can climb 60 moves of circuits but I get very pumped letting go to clip. Since Imst, I’ve tried to focus on that exclusively and I’ll continue to do that until the Arco rock master and subsequent world cups! [singlepic id=550 w=500 h=300 float=right] I went back the next day to watch finals with a small after party in area 47 that night! The morning after the party, I was on another flight back to Canada. It was time to head to Victoria to be a coach for the Canadian National Youth Team. I joined another 4 coaches, our team manager and 32 athletes in Victoria for the competition. We were housed on the UVIC campus and had rented two big buses to get the kids around. I’m going to be altering between kids and athletes the whole post but they are all athletes. They’re also between 13-19 years old, so somewhat kids at the same time J. Although I arrived on the 11th and the competition wasn’t until the 16th, we had plenty of activities planned. The 12th was a training day. We booked the speed wall for our speed athletes and the lead athletes got the chance to test out the warm up area one last time before the competition. I managed to set a personal best on the speed route but unfortunately I didn’t hit the buzzer hard enough and the timer didn’t stop. I got it on video and it’s just under 9 seconds so I know it’s possible! I’ll get the opportunity to compete in another 4 Speed World Cups this year so look out for my sub 9 time! [singlepic id=548 w=300 h=450 float=centre] In the next few days, we had a number of activities planned. We went on a 3-hour kayaking, paddle boarding excursion as well as whale watching on one of the days as well. On the whale watching tour we saw a pod of 40-50 Killer Whales (Orcas). They were saying that in 10 years it’s only happened a few times so we were very very lucky! It was pretty cool seeing 3-6 of these huge animals just coming out of the water completely in unison. Some were bigger than others, there were babies and they said that when they jump out of the water, they’re just trying to play around. One of the nights was also spent watching the meteor shower from the beach. We walked down at night with the team, a few guitars and some warm clothing and just laid out beneath the stars. It had been such a long time I hadn’t done it; it was a very mellow evening. Just lying there beneath the stars, imagining what’s out there, thinking about how big the universe is and seeing the occasional meteor burn up was pretty relaxing. With the soothing sounds of the guitars, it made for a nice evening. After all these small excursions, you might wonder if they did any climbing at all. Yes they did. It started on August 16th. [singlepic id=549 w=300 h=450 float=right] Most of the team (lead athletes) spent the 15th relaxing while I took a small group of kids (speed athletes + alternates) to the Crag-X climbing gym for one last practice. We had fun making up problems amongst the volumes and I tried to train as hard as I could including dead hangs, campus board, volume problems and some conditioning. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to climb during the actual competition. The 16th was Q1 with Q2 on the 17th. We got to the gym early on the 16th and looked up to 6 individual routes. They had mostly cool lines with the left most line only going up 2/3. I guess there was a problem with the distance to the lights in behind so they couldn’t go to the top on that side. The routes looked aesthetic, powerful and overall very good. As the day went on, small bottlenecks were discovered and there weren’t many tops. I think in the whole day 1 there might have been 5 tops? The Q2 day was similar to the first. The route setters had smartly altered some of the bottle necks and since the separation was already done, they made the routes slightly easier on some of them resulting in a few more tops in day 2. After the dust had settled, we had 9 athletes in semi-finals. We had 2 climbers in Youth B Boys, Youth B Girls and Junior Boys with another 3 in Junior Girls. [singlepic id=546 w=500 h=350 float=centre] From the organizational standpoint, the competition went really well. There were no technical incidents throughout the competition, there were minor adjustments here and there and they had plenty of volunteers. The isolation was a small gymnasium which gave enough space for the 300 athletes and coaches. Although the warm up walls were busy, it was 3 times the size of the Singapore 2012 Youth Worlds which seem to make everyone happy. The 3rd day was the Speed day and our 8 Speed athletes went to the gym earlier than the rest. The first 3 hours of the day were their practice runs and then the real qualifiers started. Of the 8 Speed athletes, I think 6 of them posted personal best results. 3 of them also advanced to the round of 16. Coaching Speed climbing is pretty fun. I’ve always enjoyed Speed climbing and now with the official route, the times can keep going faster and faster. With the standard route, the climbers know exactly what they are going to do, hand for hand and foot by foot. I find this makes the coaching of it even easier. The biggest thing to do is point out what they’re doing wrong based on their “normal” run. This is also where track mentality will come into play. I imagine there are the 3 parts of any Speed race as well; the start, middle and finish. Although I’m still learning how to coach Speed better and better, I find we do quite a good job with what we have. In the round of 16, sadly none of athletes advanced to round of 8. After it was over, our best place was 11th by Alison Stewart-Patterson. [singlepic id=547 w=500 h=350 float=centre] For the lead athletes in semifinals, the Speed day was a rest day. They all came to support our Speed athletes and tried to rest in the Canadian tent and stay out of the sun. The next morning, we were back in the buses heading to semifinals isolation. They had a standard warm-up, preview and slowly went out one by one. My job in semi-finals was to discuss with the climbers when they got back from preview. I knew where the semifinal lines were and what type of holds they were using. Along with the angles of the lines, I could imagine what type of routes there would be (compression, technical, powerful, endurance). I tried to point out little things about the routes that would put the climbers a bit more in confidence. I stayed in isolation until our last climber went out so I only got to watch one climber. When I went out and asked how we had done with our first 8 climbers the said that we were doing really well. We also had 2 climbers that were in first place with about half the category done. I watched our last climber climb and waited for the rest to past. The hype was high and I knew how many climbers had to fall for our athletes to advance to finals. By the end, not enough climbers had fallen and it looked like we wouldn’t have any climbers in finals. Our best results were Iyma Lamarche in junior girls placing 10th and Lucas Uchida in Youth B Boys placing 11th. Of our 9 athletes in semifinals, 8 of them went up in rankings with 1 of them staying the same. The 9 we had in semi-finals was the best result we’ve had since Ecuador back in 2007 where we had 3 in finals! I hope the upward trend that we set will keep on growing heading into 2014. We stayed around until the finals and watched it as most of the team was running around trading t-shirts. As we didn’t have any Canadians in finals, I offered to help Dan commentate the live stream for the IFSC. I had done it last year in Singapore and had a great time doing it. They accepted so I spent the finals just under the routes helping with how the routes were going. It was great and if you didn’t get a chance to hear it, here’s the link to the replay. I’d love to know how I did as well so if I do it in the future I know what to work on! Let me know what I did well too so I know to repeat some stuff hopefully.

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2013 World Games, Cali

For the past 6 weeks I’ve been training, climbing outside and getting ready for the lead season. It has now officially started and my first competition is finished. During my training, I was doing circuits, some bouldering and trying to push the upper limit of my endurance for 6 weeks. I also had the opportunity to go outside climbing a bit and that was fun as well. I found a few projects in the 9th degree (5.14d ish) that I really want to go back and try. [singlepic id=545 w=550 h=350 float=center] My first lead competition of the year was the French Nationals. I managed to walk away with a win but it wasn’t a very good representation of my fitness. I was in boulder shape and I knew if I got bogged down anywhere, I’d be falling low. I had a perfect finals route and almost topped. My first “real” lead competition of the year was this past weekend at the World Games in Cali, Colombia. It’s my first test because I’ve been training lead and feeling really strong. You never really know how strong you are until you see how you climb and where you rank. You obviously have to happy with how you climb and I always hope that if I climb well, I can make it onto the podium! Also, with other years, the first lead competition is a world cup so you have a few qualifiers to get the feel of clipping draws again. Here in Colombia, we didn’t get that and it was straight to semi-finals. I arrived on July 31st after a very long “day” (30 hours) of traveling. I had prepped my jet lag sleep patterns to be on Central time leaving Europe. It worked out great and I fell straight into my rhythm. I spent the first two days resting, checking out other sports and just taking it all in. With the exclusion of climbing in the 2020 Olympics, for now this is as close as it gets! On the 3rd, I watched all of the Speed competition and it got my psyched for my own competition day. Alison Stewart-Patterson finished 15th in the Speed event. Because it’s The World Games, they only take 8 to finals instead of the normal top-16. The next day was the lead portion which meant my turn! [singlepic id=544 w=320 h=350 float=right] I did my routine warm-up and felt good. It was warm for the semifinals so I was mainly focused on just keeping cool. The wall was top-30 which wasn’t great but at least it was new and there were a few volumes on the wall. After previewing the route, I thought it looked good. I went out 11th of 16th which gave me about an hour after preview until I’d be going out. From the crowd and just listening to the reactions, by the time it was my turn the route hadn’t been sent. It didn’t look too complicated with no defined cruxes. I went out and climbed awkwardly I’d say. It felt weird to be back on a rope after training circuits for so long. Clipping also felt like a burden. The route was very awkward, with hard moves with no feet low down. I just bouldered through them as best I could and kept going. By halfway I was pretty pumped and starting to get worried. Normally if I’m pumped halfway up a route, it’s going to be a bad day… I kept my mind out of it, tried to rest a bit and just kept going. Once I did a hard move at 2/3, the route turned a lot nicer. The moves flowed together a lot better and the feet seemed to be placed much more accurately. I fell off on the 3rd to last move but was happy with my performance. I found out that I was ranked 1st for the moment with 5 more climbers to go. Jakob and Ramon both got one move further placing me in 3rd after the first round. I was happy to be in finals. Like I said before, it’s always awkward to do a competition route the first time after not competing in lead for so long. It’s good to know I’ve been training well, I fell strong and I can still perform with the highest competitors. [singlepic id=543 w=320 h=350 float=right] Finals were a few hours later and I just laid down until then, relaxing. The finals started at 1:30pm, getting to the hottest part of the day. For presentation, I went out in my long sleeve team top and started baking. I left it on for the presentation, but took it off immediately to preview. The finals route looked better than the semis which was nice. I did another standard warm-up and was soon on deck. I could feel the heat even from the shady isolation zone. When I was tied in and called to climb, I stepped out into the blazing sun and looked up at the wall… no more shade. During preview, it was shaded but now that it was an hour and a half later, there was no shade to be found. I chuckled in my head then started walking towards the route. Everything felt good. In the route, nothing went too poorly until the top. I climbed the start quickly and efficiently, feeling good. Near the top of the route, I naturally started to get tired, but I felt really strong. The first of two mistakes I made was the 3rd to last draw. I knew I should clip it, but I was looking for a better hold. I kept climbing and eventually had to make a very awkward clip near my feet. I climbed another few moves and was within 5 moves from the finish. There was one more clip and then the final one. I reached out with my right to a good side pull and said to myself I should clip. When I setup my feet, I thought I wouldn’t want to clip and fall, so did the next move. As soon as I crossed over, I knew it was a mistake. [singlepic id=542 w=550 h=350 float=center] Now I had to clip from a worse hold because I figured if I went to the next hold, it wouldn’t count because it’s too far away from the draw. Knowing it’d be impossible to clip and being this high on the finals, I knew I had to clip now. I grabbed the rope with my right hand and started pulling towards the draw. I got halfway and knew I had to abandon it. I knew I’d clip (or maybe not clip) and fall immediately. Panic hit me and I dropped the rope. I needed to grab something with my right hand NOW; I looked at the draw quickly and said that was against the rules. I flailed for the previous hold, knew I was falling and lept towards the next hold, almost tagging it. I was falling, and I was not happy. In the air, I was frustrated. I shouted “no” as I was falling because I knew it wasn’t my best effort. I had messed up not one, but two clips and the second one really cost me. Doing circuits all the time makes my clipping a bit worse than it should be. I still feel like I’m good at clipping but here it cost me a few places. I finished 5th after all the dust had settled. Ramon Julian-Publanque took the win by falling on the second to last move. Jakob Schubert was second with Magnus Midtboe in third by completing the clip, grabbing the next and getting a +. Hyunbin Min hadn’t clipped and just kept climbing. The also gave him the next hold with a +. I think he should’ve just gotten solid because if he completed the move, he would never have been able to clip. It didn’t matter because Magnus won in a count back to semis. So to summarize those results, if I would’ve skipped the clip and done one more move, I go to 4th. If I climbed smarter, clipped with the draw and then did that one move, I finish 3rd. After that, who knows? Overall, I’m happy with a 5th place finish for my performance. I didn’t climb extremely well, but I didn’t get a bad rank. 5th is awesome and it gives me confidence for the competitions to come, which is almost as important as making finals in itself. I need to tweak very minor things while climbing but overall I felt strong, confident and felt like I was moving efficiently through the routes. I also hope the next competition routes I climb are a bit more bouldery. After talking to the other athletes we felt that the finals were just not very special. They were normal moves and no moves harder than any other and really awkward clips. It would’ve helped if all the holds were the same color as well for aesthetic reasons. That being said, it was one of the best competitions I’ve seen and/or competed in in South America. On the women’s side Mina Markovic took the Gold with Jain Kim and Dinara Fhakiknova completing the podium. [singlepic id=541 w=600 h=350 float=center] That night, we all went to the closing ceremonies of The World Games and I think that experience was the best of the week. They lined up all the coaches/managers/athletes in a giant parade into a soccer stadium of 20,000 people fanatically cheering and waving. It felt like I can only imagine the ceremonies at the Olympics feels like for the athletes. Following the parade was performances by a dancing group, multiple singers and a finale of fireworks. After that, they just kept playing music with everyone in super high spirits and just having fun! That marked the end of the World Games and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had while not physically competing. The vibe of the Columbian spectators created such energy, I feel honored to have been a part of it. I’m not in Innsbruck, Austria awaiting the World Cup in Imst! It’ll be on the big outdoor wall which means it’ll be cooler! Hopefully it’ll be cool enough that I get to wear my green harness pants, my favorite!

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