European Youth Bouldering Championships by Rachel Carr
It was this time last week that I began my journey to Gatwick where I would meet the Junior GB Bouldering team and leave for our first ever European. I didn’t know what to expect, whether I would be good enough, or how I would react in the new situation. When I met up with the team at the hotel we were all pretty psyched. It was a long journey to get to Grindewald, almost 12 hours, but it was worth it.
Two plane journeys, 3 trains and 1 quick car journey and we were at the hotel, right at the bottom of the Eiger. The scenery was beautiful and I was glad to see our hotel room looked comfortable because I really needed a good night’s sleep after getting up at 5 that morning. We had a team chat to decide whether we'd go to registration or not and we all chose to go along and see who we’d be competing against.
We ate first in the centre and watched all the teams show up one by one to register. I recognised some of the competitors from lead competitions and even the Denmark team that I had previously met in Font. After registering some of us went back to the hotel to get our bags ready and have a bit of a relax so we wouldn’t get stressed before the comp. Nathan, Tom and Michelle all stayed for the technical meeting to give us the information later on.
After playing a few card games and double-checking our kit for Saturday Tom returned to give us another team chat and tell us any final rules.
The next day we woke up sharp at 8 and headed for breakfast. Tom thought it would be a good idea if we had a bit of time in the morning just to relax so that we wouldn’t stress out about the comp. This really helped me as it was so different to all the lead competitions I'd been in in the past. We watched a bit of German TV and played more card games. For some reason playing really quick, high-intensity card games took the pressure of the comp. My Youth A Girls category was to start at 12:30 and was the first category for our team. We headed to the wall for half ten to scope out the climbs and watch the Youth B boys as we knew we would have some of the same problems. When we started warming up the area was almost empty, but by about 20 minutes before starting time the warm-up zone was filled with competitors, at this point I was glad to have Gracie and Tara with me as it was nice to see familiar faces in a crowd of unusual ones. With 15 minutes to go before the start we headed to the competition area to see what problems would be ours and for Tom to give us some last minute motivation.
With 45 climbers our category was one of the biggest so we had a 2 hour qualification time and 8 problems to attempt. Gracie and I managed to be first and second on problem 5. Gracie went first and fell off a crossover move, I went on and did the same, but looking back I think I could have made it if I had more confidence. We worked our way through the problems, not always together, but still helping each other with beta. I managed to reach the final move on the slab problem 3 times but didn’t trust my foot enough to get right into the wall so just missed the last hold. That raised my confidence as I knew I’d beaten a few girls by getting closer to the hold, even though I knew it wouldn’t show in the results. I got 5 bonuses overall but I didn’t top any. I wasn’t disappointed as I knew no one ever does well in their first comp. It was a totally new atmosphere and I just wasn’t used to it yet. I made it to the last move on 3 of the problems and made it past the crux on 2 of the others. I was pleased with how well I did on each problem and knew that the main reason I’d fallen off them was because my foot had slipped and not because I lacked the capability. I finished 31st out of 45. If I had topped one I would have been 27th and if I had topped 2 I would have come top 25. I know I have the ability to get top 25 next time and I’m already working on my weaknesses.
Hopefully next time I’ll have a better mind-set and I’ll be able to move through the hard moves first time. It was such a good atmosphere with the team over the weekend; everyone was so relaxed and had fun the whole time. We were focused when we needed to be and everyone made sure that no one got stressed out. Tom was really good at talking us through and gave me some great feedback. It was always so positive and I know next time the whole team will improve; we will get better from here. I’m so psyched for Bulgaria, it can’t come quick enough.