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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Vienna World Cup 2012

I am once again back in my apartment in Toulouse, France after 5 weeks of competition. It’s been an adventure and I’ve come back to Toulouse for some more training until the next world cup which comes up in a mere 3 weeks. The next world cup is on the May 18-19th weekend in Innsbruck, Austria. As mentioned before, I competed in 5 different competitions in 4 different competitions in 5 weeks. Yes it’s a lot, and I’m pretty tired. I’ve already been back to the gym once for training and it felt good. I’m a bit sore in my shoulder, specifically my right from Log-Dragomer. [singlepic id=348 w=450 h=350 float=center]   After my last post, I headed to Zurich for a photo-shoot with Mammut. It`s kind of a “secret” for what we were working on, although Stefan Schlumpf (the photographer) released a sort of teaser photo which is just below. [singlepic id=349 w=500 h=350 float=center]   Yes, I look a bit scary, although can’t we just imagine that I’m sort of superhero? If you’re wondering if I’m wearing a bit of make-up, the answer is yes… 30 minutes of it, and touch-ups here and there :). We worked on a couple shots with this sort of persona, and then another one for the Mammut one. It was a fun time and my first real photo-shoot in a studio. It’s actually a lot more work than I gave credit for. The photographer has something in mind and if you don’t get it 1st, 2nd, 40th try, you shoot again… I was busy doing this for a day just before I left for Vienna. Thursday morning, I took the train to Vienna with Jorg Verhoeven and Nikki De-Leeuw from The Netherlands. It was a pretty easy train ride, and before we knew it, we were taking another couple trains to the hotel. Once in Vienna, I met up with the engaged Alex Puccio and Chris Webb-Parsons from the USA and Australia respectively. Rules meeting… blah blah, sleep. [singlepic id=350 w=350 h=500 float=left] Friday morning was men’s qualifiers and it went pretty well. I did 4 boulders in 5 tries with 5 bonuses in 7. I secured a 6th place position heading into semi-finals. It turns out that for my group, you had to do 4 problems in 7 tries or less…. close. In the other group, it was even closer, and you had to do 3 problems flash or more. The problems in Vienna were actually pretty cool as they made the two groups on almost identical problems. Two of the 5 problems were 99% identical, and I say 99% because 100% is impossible. The other 3 problems were all pretty similar moves, just in different angles. It was pretty cool to see and I find they did a good job. They did the same thing for the women, and after knowing their style from the men, again it was pretty cool to see. Saturday were semis and finals, with semis passing in the morning. By 8:30, I think I was back in isolation with Alex Puccio. She had a somewhat bad qualifiers and hasn’t felt so good ever since being a bit sick in China. I tried to tell her that she looked strong and would do fine. I believed it too! I hoped she climbed like I knew she could and just crushed the semis. I came out after a standard warm-up and was feeling super good. I felt good in my warm up, and looked at the first problem with eager fingers. The first one had all massive holds on it, and looked like a hard top. I fell a couple of times before the bonus, trying to figure out where to grab it. I finally ended up crossing to the bonus on my last try but falling on the last move, tickling the final “sloper, pinch”. It turned out that if I’d have stuck that last move, I could’ve just packed up my stuff and waited to finals. I didn’t know that and didn’t do the problem so I continued. The rest of the semis can be summed up in two words…. TOO HARD. Only half of the semi-finalists grabbed zone on the second problem and one lone competitor from France (Jeremy Bonder) managed to do the seeming impossible slab. I got 3 bonuses in 5 tries although I couldn’t get bonus on number 2. It turned out that all you had to do was put one finger on the zone “volume” to get credit for the hold. [singlepic id=351 w=500 h=350 float=right] You may ask why I wouldn’t have known that, being a world cup competitor. Well the thing is that I’ve done that exact thing, one finger on the hold, and they didn’t give it to me (Vail 2011). I locked off, touched the hold with one finger for the 3 seconds, came down and then fell. They said I wasn’t in control of the hold…. I appealed…. and lost. I figured this was the same thing… although it wasn’t…. so the IFSC rules still bug me a bit. I could write many thousands words on this matter so I’ll leave it at that. I finished in 9th place, in which I was pretty happy. If I would’ve lifted my middle finger while hugging the volume on 2 and touched the bonus volume on the bottom, I would’ve been in finals…. That’s just part of the game, and I lost this round. Oh well, I still came 9th 🙂 I went out for lunch with the Austrians after that, and then figured out where to stay that night. Because some of the French team was going to be on the same flight as me back to Toulouse, I crashed with them. After a few pre-finals drinks, we were back watching finals, and the route setters made up for their poor performance in the semis. On the men’s side, all 4 problems were done, and the winner, Rustam Gelmanov did all 4. Second place went to the other strong Russian Dmitrii Sharafutdinov. Third place was secured by none other than the Austrian superstar Kilian Fischhuber. On another note, one of my French friends Jeremy Bonder made his first finals and although still managing to do 2 finals problems, he finished 6th! Full results for men can be found HERE. [singlepic id=352 w=500 h=350 float=center]   On the women’s side, it was also a great finals with Akiyo Noguchi taking it down by being the only women to top all 4 problems. Mina Markovic of Slovenia did 3 problems are took second. American Alex Puccio flashed two finals problems and took 3rd. It was a great finals followed by dinner and some festivities! Full results for womens can be found HERE. [singlepic id=353 w=500 h=350 float=center]   As I said before, training is back in full swing for me, and I’m still stoked for boulder World Cups. I leave May 17th for Innsbruck!  

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Log-Dragomer WC 2012

Sometimes I like to blog just after a competition and sometimes I like to wait a few days. It’s also always nice to have a few pictures to grab to add to the post as I find it uncontrollably hard to take pictures while competing… This time, I’ve waited a few days before recapping on how the World Cup went in Log-Dragomer, Slovenia. [singlepic id=347 w=500 h=300 float=center]   If you didn’t know how I finished, I ended up 15th after having a pretty hard semi-final round. I rolled into Slovenia Thursday after taking a flight to Venice, a train go Gorizia and getting picked up by Klemen Becan from Slovenia. I spent most of Friday just relaxing, playing games, surfing the internet and checking flight costs. It was a pretty uneventful day although I was mainly just resting for the Saturday qualifiers. Qualifiers rolled around and I was 6th out. We went to isolation, had some coffee, warmed up and before I knew it I was out on my first boulder. To sum up the qualification round, I find it a bit strange. Qualification
  1. The first was a super awkward jump that I still managed to flash but shaking my head as I was heading back to isolation.
  2. The second was way too crimpy to be any good and I kind of missed a side wall stem so I actually didn’t do this one.
  3. Third was crazy reachy and it took me 3 tries just to do the first 3 moves. I managed to get up to the zone, and the last move was a sort of blind dyno around a huge spherical feature. I snagged the final hold, controlled the swing and was 2/3 in qualifiers.
  4. I came out for the 4th feeling psyched and consequently flashed that problem. It was only 4 moves, but I managed to stay on the problem for probably a minute…
  5. The last problem was very straight forward and hard. It had pretty high feet, but perfect for me. I flashed to the second to last move when I was reaching far right. My foot popped and I fell. I rested until 2 minutes left and did the boulder second try.
To the right is a shot of me on Q3.
[singlepic id=345 w=300 h=440 float=right] Qualifications total went 4 tops in 7 tries and 5 bonus in 7 as well. I felt like I had climbed well, except the number 2 in which I just should’ve been able to do. I figured it’d be good enough for semis, but you never really know. An hour later, I was in third place with no one else extremely strong showing any signs of doing more then 2-3 boulders. Keep in mind that the climbers with the highest world ranking go first, so it’s usually unlikely that a climber that is late in the running order makes semi-finals. This ranking system gets a bit skewed when climbers like Jakob Schubert and Jorg Verhoeven climb in boulder as they don’t have a high or any world ranking thus they climb later in the running order. Because the groups are also split in half with top 10 making semi-finals, it kind of screws up that system as well. You just hope that the random climbers will also get split evenly!
There was a good few hours before the girls went and I went back to Klemen’s house to chill. We were lazy and because of the live stream, we didn’t have to leave the comfort of our own living room to watch the comp. As it was a 20-30 minute drive, and qualifiers are usually pretty boring for the women, we decided to just watch the live stream instead of driving. The girls qualifiers was pretty standard, no one didn’t make semis that should’ve and everything was pretty normal. Onto Sunday, semi and finals. Another standard morning including a bit of food, warming up and coffee… A couple hours later, I’m running out to my first boulder in semi-finals and feeling super excited. Semi-Finals
  1. First boulder was easy, maybe too easy. I flashed it, felt good and walked calmly back behind the wall.
  2. Second boulder was much hard. First two moves to bonus took me 3 tries, although I think I should’ve done it first try. After you get bonus, it’s kind of weird climbing on volumes. Usually I’m really strong on these types of boulders, but I just couldn’t put it together… I fell a couple times on the last hard move, but had to move on.
  3. Third boulder was pretty ridiculous, and of course I’m going to b*tch about the fact that if you’re taller, the problem (in my opinion…) was much easier. So here’s me complaining. The boulder revolved around keeping your feet low, then holding onto small volumes and jumping into the death star from Star Wars. The problem looked awesome, and I’m strong at compression, but after flashing to just before the jump to the Death Star, I was pretty unmotivated. I didn’t even come closer to touching the Death Star… I then spent 3 minutes trying to do the first move because the foot was super low. My last try, I made it up to where I fell again. I changed around my method to see if something could click, but it didn’t. NEXT
  4. The fourth and last problem was equally dumb as it was a dyno straight out a roof into a jug. An added note is that if you’re tall, it’s not a jump, just a span. The hold you’re jumping from was very good, and the victory jug, was well a victory jug! Once you did the dyno, it was easy to the top… I bet me trying this jump was probably pretty funny to the crowd as I was taking some epic falls on the jump. First try, smash my face on the pad… Second, third, fourth, who knows? I just remember hitting the pads very hard every time, bouncing off them, then pacing around the mats trying to walk it off… Fifth and last try, stuck the dyno and top the problem. I was so relieved, happy. I screamed at the top of my lungs as I top the problem and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
[singlepic id=346 w=320 h=420 float=left] For a sense of the 4th boulder, here is Austrian Lukas Ennemoser (about same height as me) struggling with the dyno. He completed the dyno as well after a few flailing attempts I only imagine.
In total, my semis were 2 tops in 6 tries and 4 bonuses in 10. I doubted it was enough for finals, but I was pretty happy with my performance. The only problem I felt I could’ve actually done was number 2… and maybe the last in fewer tries. As it turns out, you needed 3 problems straight up… or 2 flash and 4 bonus flash. I finished 15th because of the number of tries on 4. Contrary to what most people thought, I was pretty happy with my result considering the problems. Yeah, I’m complaining pretty hard on some of the problems, but I wasn’t the only one… Take one of the girl’s semi-final problems. It was a downwards / sideways jump from one side wall to another. Because of the lack of feet, they had to just jump and do a giant belly flop against the opposite wall. I only saw 2 girls do the dyno, but it looked like one of the most awkward moves I’ve seen in competition. On top of it all, it’s not even allowed according to the rules. In the rules, it states that there may NOT be any downwards jumps in competition. The routes setters said they knew it would be controversial, but still wanted to try it…. Ludicrous…. After the bad problem and me not making semis, there was a finals… heh. It was awesome to watch and came down to the wire for the men. In the women, Mina Markovic flashed all 4 finals problems are secured her victory. Full results for men can be foud HERE, and women can be found HERE. So that sums up my first world cup of the season. When I look at my result, I’m not overly happy, but I find I made a few errors, but still did lots of hard moves. If it was point per hold, I think I would’ve been in finals… It’s not, and I wasn’t in finals, but it’s still something to think about. I know sometimes I complain, but once it’s in my post, I tend to forget about it. Probably a good thing, so I just write it down 🙂 Onto the next competition in Vienna this next weekend! I’m currently on the train to Zurich to do a photo-shoot for Mammut. I can’t tell you how fun/crazy/good it feels to say that. It seems like something out a movie…I’m also meeting another photographer to get some really cool artistic shots done. I can’t tell you any more than that other than I’ve seen a rough sketch and I think it’ll be pretty cool! Just wait and see! It also revolves around one of my favourite concepts. When I get back from Zurich, I’ll be heading to Vienna for the World Cup there. Second one of the season and I feel my surge for bouldering world cups again. I still love competing and being going out to a boulder, I try to think of that. Bouldering, Lead climbing, I just love being in a competition and trying as hard as I can. When I do well, or top a route, I can feel it paying off and it gives instant gratification. Check back in next week for the recap of Vienna. The two competition photo’s in this post were taken by Austrian Team Manager Heiko Wilhelm

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