Thursday, 30 May 2013

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.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Scottish Youth Bouldering Championships by Rachel Carr

The Scottish Youth Bouldering Championships (SYBC) was started back in 2009 by Scott Muir at his climbing wall Extreme Dream in Aviemore.  That was only my second year in climbing and I finished 4th in the 11-13 category.  In 2010 I was part of the GB Youth Climbing Team and as the event wasn't endorsed by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) I was 'advised' not to  compete.  In 2011 MCofS came on board so I took part and won the 14-16 yrs category following this up with another win in 2012 - the first year the competition was made into an Open and climbers came from Ireland and England to join the Scots at the newly opened The Climbing Academy in Glasgow.

2013 saw another development with the SYBC now forming part of the British Junior Bouldering Championships and being used as a selection day for the GB Junior Bouldering Team.  Would climbers be good enough to get on the team and would existing members be able to show they were climing at the right level to go to France and Bulgaria for the next euros? In all 137 competitors ages 8 - 19 travelled to TCA from around the country for what was a brilliant day.

We had 15 qualifying problem which I found quite easy. I didn’t expect to top them all, never mind flash them all. I wasn’t the only one but that didn’t matter, I was so pleased and surprised at my achievement. I’d been training hard and I knew I’d gotten stronger but I didn’t think I was capable of this. I was going into the finals in joint first with Molly and Tara. 

Qualifying photo by Sandy Carr

I was extremely psyched but also nervous about what the problems would be like. I wasn’t sure if they would be as easy as the qualifiers or too hard to top. I always hate when the finals come down to attempts on tops. 

After sitting around for a few hours, waiting to see who else had qualified for the finals, the results were posted and we were called into isolation. The final problems had been set before hand and hidden with a large sheet. We heard them drop the sheet, then the disco music started up and the crowd began to buzz. It became real that the finals were here and I had a chance of winning.  

Everyone sat calmly waiting to find out what would happen and after ten minutes we were called for observation. We lined up for all the audience to see who was competing. They counted down and our 6 minutes for observation began. We ran to our first problem and figured out how to climb it, the moves looked awkward but doable and I was only really worried about a couple moves. After 2 minutes had gone I moved to the next problem. This one had simple moves but one move that looked like I would struggle, it had a sloping pinch, I had been training them since the team weekend but I still knew I’d struggle. I decided not to think too much on it or I’d get nervous so I moved to the final problem. This looked like a problem I’d enjoy. It was overhanging, powerful and had a massive volume that I’d have to crawl round. They called out time and we all made our way back to isolation. We only had a few minutes before we had to go out to climb.  There were 7 through in my category because there was a joint 6th. I was second last out so I had some time to wait. 

Last Final photo by Sandy Carr
I heard the first 4 go, not worrying about them as I was focusing on my own climbing. When Molly went out I got ready, calmed myself down and listened to see if I could hear whether Molly topped it. I didn’t, so I began to think the problem was a lot harder than I thought. I went to the problem and my four minutes began.  I jumped on the first move but my hand slipped straight away. I thought I might have the wrong beta so tried a different way. That was even worse, the start holds weren’t great and I was cramped. I tried the original way and I made it. I caught the hold and kept climbing. I got the second bonus and realised I could do this. I was almost off on the last move but I swapped my feet and reached and caught it. A smile immediately appeared on my face and I jumped off pleased at my success. I went back to isolation and waited to see how Tara would do. She had flashed it so I was sitting in second place.

The next problem didn’t go so well. I made it to the first bonus but by the time I’d got there I was so tired I couldn’t pull at all.  I didn’t have the lock-off strength to make the move to the second bonus. The pinch was too much and my fingers just couldn’t cut it. I dropped off and was disappointed because I knew Molly had flashed it. I assumed Tara would too but when she came back to isolation I figured out that she had got to the same place as me. I had a chance at winning if I could flash the last problem.  I went out and worked my way around the volume but couldn’t make the blind slap onto a small crimp. I missed it every time I jumped for it and despite trying until I couldn’t hold on anymore, I just couldn’t get passed the crimp. 

I’d come third overall behind Tara in first and Molly second, but being top placed Scot had retained my Scottish Champion title and won a trophy designed by Malcolm Smith.

Rachel and Tara with the Scottish Championship Trophy  photo by Sandy Carr

 At the end of the day I realised I had become stronger and that if I keep up my training I can continue to get better and that’s the only motivation I need to keep trying. I was selected for the 2 upcoming euros and I only have a couple weeks until the first euro at Grindlewald. Time to get psyched!