Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Demo, A Comp and One Stupid Grip Taped Feature...

Wow, last weekend was busy! Sorry for my late update about it, but I think I spent most of this week playing catch up and suffering from shear exhaustion. Ok, so to begin, and I'm warning you right now this will more than likely be a picture heavy post, Last Friday (the 23rd) I drove out to Climber's Rock and helped Aaron Eden and Francis Scherer host, put together and run The 2011 Summer Sweatfest Finale. The format was crazy, attendance was less than expected and on top of that it was one of only a handful left, nice weekends in Southern Ontario basically, we the Route Setters were psyched, but worried that however brilliant we made things, the turnout might be too low. So before we even stuck a hold on the wall, Aaron and I sat down and hashed out, tweaked and rendered a vision for the comp that was, in all complete honesty, the battle plan. I posted before about the heinous mess that is setting for a comp but I'd like to elaborate just a little, especially with this comp so fresh in my mind. Don't get me wrong, I love setting for comps, I love the result of, on comp day, competitors smiling, having fun, trying problems, figuring out sequences, however, it takes a ton of effort, blood sweat and tears to get to that point. Being both a competitor and a setter, I have a unique perspective on comps, since I know that they need to happen for the sport to grow and I appreciate all the work that goes into them, however I know that when I setting a comp, there will be stress, there will be exhaustion and at some point, at least one point in the process, I'll be ready to throw in the towel.
I know it looks like scribbles but it actually made a ton of sense to us...

I know this post is going to be long, so be prepared for some rants but I'm going to try to keep the rants to a minimum. So lets talk about the format. The format for this comp, I felt, to be honest, was a little ambitious especially since the turn outs for each stop of the tour had lower than last year numbers but I think there was also a positive in this format that a lot of competitors that would not regularly get to climb in this style of format, got to experience the strategies and pressures of climbing in these formats. So now that I referenced the format a bunch of times, but haven't explained it yet, here it is:
Qualifiers: All categories had a 22 bloc, friendly format scramble qualifier on the Saturday, UNLESS, unless you had series points saved up and you were in the top eight in OPEN cuz then you got a buy to semifinals held on Sunday morning. These blocs were great, I think I only managed to set one of these and it may have been bloc 16 o 17 however, I did manage to forerun everything in this comp.
Semifinals: Yea you heard it, we had a semifinals round on Sunday morning for 20 competitors for both Men's and Women's OPEN. We didn't get the full quota for eithe category but Men's was closest with I think 16 competitors total. The format was 4 blocs, 5 min on 5 min off. I set Men's #1, Women's #1 and again fore ran everything. I liked this round a lot, although it did offer a huge challenge as a setter since we did have a bunch of competitors with no experience in this type of format so the blocs had to have a large range of difficulty and kill sets and still allow us to get a separation from the field and allow for the competitors still to feel like they got to climb stuff right? Ugh. More on this later.
Finals: International format finals, 4 blocs, 2 min preview for each and then 4 min + rule for attempts.
So while Qualifiers went on, I dragged some Evolv Athletes (Max Dugal and Iyma Lamarche) out to do a shoe demo since I recently got the demo kit dropped off to me. The above picture is of Max and Iyma doing what they do, get people into great climbing shoes. On the left, you'll notice a Crash Pad. That's the new Evolv Iceman that was sent out to me last week, I was going to make a post about it but I haven't really had the opportunity to try it out. You can check it and the bigger version, the Maverick out here.
After the qualifying round, Francis, Aaron and I stayed at the gym for an easy night of throwing Semi's back up and giving them the once over. Our semi's definitely had their work cut out for them, since we hadn't even seen half of the Men's field climb and all of the women got a buy into Women's Open. Like I said there were good and bad things about this format.
Me doing last minute inspection of Francis' Men's Semi #2 and Aaron's Women's Semi #2
Ma boy Eric Sethna crushin through the campus moves of Men's Semi #1
So Semis finished off with a bunch of ties, and yes it didn't go the way expected but every bloc got sent, maybe a little too much but  that's how it goes sometimes. You can do everything possible and at the end of it, it comes down to knowledge of the field and a little bit of luck. On the Men's side we ended up with three ties, one for 1st, one for 3rd and one for 5th. Not so bad, no great, would have rather had perfect separation in Semis and be able to chill out for finals, but no such luck. On the women's side is where we, the Setters, were crying inside; five way tie for 1st. UGH! Yea, we screwed the pooch on that one right? Oh well. Nothing we could do about it save tweak our finals to do their jobs hopefully.
Now I had gone into this comp with an idea of a problem I wanted to set for a while now. I think I had called Aaron about it maybe 2 months ago. It wasn't anything super unique but it was something I hadn't seen done in a while and I wanted to know how competitors would handle it, especially a field with such a wide range of experience. First thing I'll clarify is that it was Men's Open Final #4. The field for Men's Open was really broad, from my friend Eric Sethna who just got back from competing at the Boulder World Cup in Munich and finished off his Youth career this year by attending the World Youth Championships in Imst, Austria. But this idea, this idea I had I wanted to put it on the wall and see if Competitors could figure it out in the allotted time. I find that it is easier to introduce more complicated blocs to competitors, to sort of ease them into a different style, if there is a preview period. So I presented this blocs concept to Aaron, he agreed we could try it, and I put it up for Men's #4 final. I won't give away the whole bloc, but Evolv Athlete Max was the first one up, with my buddy Kieth Mackay giving it a super valiant attempt, honestly I think that's the hardest I've seen anyone try on a bloc, if I can find the video I will post it but the other send was from Eric Sethna, who ended up taking first place. Here's the video of his send, slightly epic:

So the opening move was meant to be a one handed dyno to the ring that Eric desperately stuck but other than Eric, everyone else did it the way I intended. The way Eric did it made it look much harder and very low percentage but it turned out never the less. The idea for this bloc was to force the knee bar above your head, which I feel was achieved, and I don't feel like this style of bloc comes up all too often in our comp circuit, the Tour De Bloc. Anyways, I was really please with this bloc and my Men's Semi #1, which had the dropped down campus move. The other bloc that I set, and again will continue to search for video, is my Women's #4 finals. Although a bit too easy, I think it was really cool to see that many volumes used and again I got to force another knee bar. 
So now we get into the one really big thing that went wrong at this comp, that taught me a valuable lesson. No more grip tape. Ever. I'm done with grip tape. The reason being, during Will Johnson's first attempt on Men's Final #2.This was this awesome line set by Aaron starting with a big crossover off a jug undercling to this nose style triangle feature with grip tape on it that you wrapped, matched and move to a screw on pinch on a big triangle feature, then heal the grip tape to fall into an undercling on that feature before moving up to another feature with a very subtle screw on sloper on it. From there, you made a tensionie throw to a pinch way out and right to another big throw over the lip to a sloper and finally topping out. This bloc was a lotof fun however, the grip tape came off in Will's hand the minute he grabbed it. I wish I had a picture of all our faces but i can share this pic with you guys.
How many route setter does it take to fix the grip tape...

Worst thing ever. If I ever do use grip tape in a bloc again, I'll make sure to have enough spare to put an army of teenagers through their skate boarding careers. Amateur and Pro. Seriously after the grip tape came off we had to move the guys on to the next bloc and send someone out to buy new grip tape. No easy feat on a Sunday night at 6 pm.
I think overall the comp turned out, we had some great blocs although I will admit we were worried and that they were a touch to easy. In the end Eric Sethna took it home for the men and Sasha Vince took it home for the Women. Photo credit goes out to Zen Ng, she knows how to use my camera better than I do and Video credit goes to Michelle. I'm kind of lucky to have to media ladies eh? I'm looking forward to a little bit of down time before the comp season begins. I've been training, and working on my weakness and trying to get my fitness up so we'll see how the first one goes. The first comp is at the start of November at Joe Rockheads, come out and I'll see y'all there. Peace guys and gals, as always keep your psyche up!

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