Friday, 20 February 2015

Winter Opens 2014

Over the last two weekends the final two national competitions of the year were held. The first was the first round of the British Cup at Awesome Walls in Sheffield and the second was the December Open bouldering competition held at the Unit in Derby.

This was the first British Cup ever held because before they were just stand alone competitions so all of a sudden this competition meant a lot more to me, because winning the cup would be a great achievement. I’ve had many competitions at Awesome walls, so I don’t really need to describe it but something that was different this time was; the amount of training I had done prior to the competition. I’d been advised to take the remainder of the year off so I hadn’t done any hard work for a good month before. My first two qualifiers were surprisingly steady and I managed to top them both out. I was safely through to the final. The final was on the overhanging wall with a little roof at the bottom. While route-reading I thought I could do this as all the moves seemed very straight forward. Isolation I always find stressful and end up sitting quietly focussing on my performance. My heart beats faster when I get called out and suddenly you are in front of a large crowd being expected to climb as well as you can. However this is probably the part I enjoy most about competitions that nervous excitement. I pull on to the route, the holds are red and I enjoy it as the moves linked together really well. I turn the lip and have a really disgusting match but then I’m off again. I start to feel lactic acid build up in my arms as they start struggling to hold on in a relaxed position, however I’m almost at the top and I cross to a sloper and find I can’t even hold it! I tried getting a better grip but nothing came finally I just gave everything I had a slipped out of the hold.

I found out I was in first with only Jim about to climb. He climbed really well and managed to go again to the hold I fell going to. In the end I finished in 2nd place after Jim which I was really pleased with because it kept me in the running for the cup. Also I did well enough to get reselected for the GB team for 2015

The following weekend was the Boulder open in Derby. I’d visited this wall a couple of weeks ago for a quick look about so I knew it quite well. This competition we only had three tries on each problem which was really annoying because it meant it was less like a real European competition, also it put more pressure on each try. We are given 8 boulders to complete. We had 4 slabby ones and 4 powerful ones so it was a good range of technics required. Our time started and I got my confidence up by flashing the first one which was really easy. Next I tried a vertical one and I fell on the last move! This knocked me and I knew I had to keep my head in a good place if I was to have a chance of making final. Next I flashed two more and did the one I fell on which was a relief. Sometimes I get lucky with my height and find a short person problem which happened on the next one. I was able to get my feet really high therefore allowing me to get it on my third attempt. The next two problems where on the competition wall. The first was a massive roof which I flashed and it was the coolest problem with loads of squeezing with the limbs. Next was a wall with a stopper last move. This killed me and I knew if I could get this I’d have a good chance of finals, however the last hold was awful and I kept not quite holding it. This left the last slab, I knew I had to do this to make finals. For once I had to really pull it out of the bag. First and second go I fell. Left was my third I felt the pressure. I gave it absolutely everything I’d got but couldn’t quite get the push to reach the top. I fell and was gutted for the first time I hadn’t made a boulder final.

Once the results came out I found out I was in 10th position, I wasn’t happy with this and I really want to improve it. Sitting out of the finals I saw the problems and thought that the final would have suited me. Although I did really enjoy both competition and it has made me psyched for the up and coming competition season so let’s see how it goes!!

British Lead Climbing Championships 2014

This year the British Lead Championships were held at the new wall in Sheffield, Awesome Walls Sheffield, which is a new BMC performance centre so one of the best walls to compete on a european style stage. The junior competition was held on the Saturday and there was a big turn out with about 20 in my category. The setting was done by Jan Genoux and gave some great routes. I was quite nervous because this was my first national lead competition this year. Normally I made finals with comfort but I wasn’t so sure this time! The first route had a hard top section but I felt really good on this and topped out. I felt really relieved. Next was a long steep route up the lip of the massive roof and I fell on the last move of this because of a poor foot placement which was really annoying! Anyway, only Will and Jim topped out and I qualified in 3rd joint with Alex, no surprise there! I was more chilled now but I realised that this was the competition for British Champion, the big title, and the competitiveness kicked in. I came second last year. Could I do one better?

Our final route was through the centre of the roof with hard moves all the way through it. I climbed fast and it all went really well; I made no mistakes but fell on the top wall going for a small crimp that I just couldn’t grab! I came down, feeling like I had done my best, and was please to find I had the high point at the moment. Alex fell one move before me, although I thought he looked more solid than me. Jim then came out and destroyed the route with an incredible top out! Now Will had to match it, but do it faster. Will looked strong to the last move but then dropped with the finishing jug in his hands. So close! I finished in 3rd place which I was pleased with because I couldn’t have done much better, but it still wasn’t a win.

The next day was the seniors. It was a massive jump in depth of the field, almost everyone was capable of making finals and only 8 spaces were available. We had two qualifiers as normal but both were significantly harder than youth routes. Both our route were about 8a+ which was right on the edge of my ability. I thought I had the fitness to make finals but it was just a question of how hard the routes were. The first was up the steep wall but not through the roof. I felt really confident when I climbed and enjoyed the experience. I managed to get a rest right at the end which completely saved me because I could rest before the final sequence. I felt fresh unfortunately there was an enormous move and I fell. This was good because only two people topped and I was in joint third! The next route was disgusting, like, really vertical with no positive holds and big stretched out moves, hell for me. I tried really hard and got to the crux but my lack of technique on weird moves showed itself again and I couldn’t really manage to do anything so I fell off. It wasn’t the worst effort and left me in a middle emotion of wondering if I had done well enough. After a nervous wait for about two hours I saw the results and was over the moon to have made it. Only just though; Ellis needed one move to kick me out.

5 Youth A boys made the final out of 8, which shows how competitive my category is and I’m psyched to be able to climb against all of them. The other three were men who were super strong but weren’t specialised lead competition climbers. Our final route looked amazing, unsurprisingly it went through the roof on big fat pinches with a dyno in the middle to get the crowd going. I was up first because I qualified in last position and climbed really fast and efficiently to the rest before the roof. At this point I had to clip from a set position which was really far away. I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach and was considering just dropping off but after three attempts managed to get it in. I did a little crowd raiser to get psyched and unleashed for the dyno, stuck it, yes! Next I missed a crucial kneebar which was a mistake and then my heel popped on a crucial move and I came down disappointed with my performance. I wasn’t surprised when everyone else got significantly further than me but still you get routes that just don’t go your way.

I really enjoyed the added pressure of the aura around the championships and the respect you get from winning it, however I was pleased with how I did and won of my goals is to become British Champion so next year I might make it one of my priorities to do well in.