So the really quick and dirty update of the last year is this: I moved to Vancouver to become the Purveyor Of Destiny and Head Route Setter at The Hive Bouldering Gym (which by the way is amazing!) If you live in Vancouver, or even close and you haven't been, get there. You're missing out. I set Tour De Bloc Nationals last year as the only official apprentice position at Vertical Escalade in Montreal. I apprenticed the one and only Jody Miall. I taught two more route setting clinics, one in Waterloo for the good old boys at Grand River Rocks and one at the Beyond The Crux in Kelowna, BC. Um, what else. Oh, I was the Chief of the first ever Tour De Bloc at the Hive in November. Not only was this the first Tour ever at the Hive but this had a first for me too. We, my crew of Andreas Lerch (now officially one of The Hive's very own,) Josh Tuffin of Grand River Rocks, Andrew Coffey, the owner of The Hive and Shayne Russel, Manager of the Hive, plus all of our madly amazing volunteers, set this comp in 2 and a half days. 2 and a half days people!!!! It was insane! I mean yes, we were completely obliterated after and fore running was the single worst thing on the planet but we did get it done. Definitely a first for me (for those of you who don't know usually I get 4 days.) What else? Oh! With the support of The Hive, I flew to the Calgary Climbing Center to help set their Tour De Bloc in Dec. I worked with Chief Route Setter and friend of mine Simon Villenueve, who in case you were wondering is a true baller. Man's got a wife, two kids, two gyms to look after and still manages to crank hard and set like a mad man. It's pretty impressive. I think that's all. I mean, granted there was day to day setting in there and one gnarly week bouldering trip to Leavenworth, Washington where I managed to get into the US with an expired passport (I know, go figure right) and going back to Ontario for the holidays to drive my car back across the country. Yup that about covers it.
|Ayo Sopeju staring down the final hold on Men's Final #3|
So I flew back to Ottawa, for those of you who don't know, I used to live there when I was in University way, way back in the day, to help set the Coyote Rock Gym Tour De Bloc. This comp was really, REALLY cool for me. I was really excited to get the opportunity to help out with this for a bunch of reasons:
1. I used to work at this gym. This is the gym that started me down all of this craziness. Competing, Setting, Running Comps, all of it. This is where the spark of motivation ignited the fires of desire. Ha! Oh god that was so lame right. I know most of you just vomitted in your mouth a little bit at how lame that was but you know what, I leave it in there. Just for all of you. Anyways, I've often called this my home gym, the gym where it all began and although I started climbing in Rock and Chalk in my hometown of Newmarket, Coyote was where climbing went from something I did, to something I live (see that, I got another lame one in there.)
2. This is where Jody Miall, one of my route setting and competing inspirations works as the Manager and Head Route Setter. He's been a longtime friend of mine and has been a great mentor to me so I was really excited to be working with him again.
3. Finally, almost every year since the Tour began, this comp has been the biggest, the most epic, the most cash money prizes and the most registrants in all of the Tour. This is by far, in the Eastern Bloc, the DO NOT MISS comp. I've known tons of climbers who don't compete but will go and climb in this comp. Coyote has a very illustrious history of hosting the best comps in Canada and I was really excited to actually be a part of the other side of it this time around.
So I rolled in on Monday night, Jody picked me up from the airport and we went straight to it. I joined a very stacked team of route setters; Kellen Tapley, Freed Caap, Chris Linklater, Alex Bain, Chris de Kergommeaux (thanks Kellen for the correction) and of course, our Jody Miall.
Like all comps, you start with a vision. What do you want? No, the answer to that is not just a good comp. Thanks guys. No, it's more than that. How many tops do you want in finals? What kind finals problems do we want to present to the finals? How do we want qualifiers to go? All of these things go into that and you start talking about it on the first day. We all agreed early on the we wanted a lot of tops in finals, it's always a better show, we wanted to run Men and Women at the same time and we wanted a quick and dirty qualifiers. What I mean by that is every problem should go and for the top 8 competitors in both fields, a lot of them should send the same problems but there should be no ties, it should be broken up by attempts.
And, qualifiers went down just like that. The 8 qualifying men were only separated by only 66 points, with the top 3 being separated by just 5! For those of you unfamiliar with the Tour scoring in the scramble format round, 5 points is the difference between your 1st and 2nd attempt. We had a really really good break down and I think a lot of that comes from knowing the field and tons and tons of fore running. Women's Open was a similar story but they were a little further spread out. Having said that, we still got a perfect break down.
Now, onto the important stuff. Finals. Like I said above, we ran this finals all together. Men and Women, at the same time, classic format (5 min on 5 min off.) Now Coyote is an older gym, nothing wrong with that I'm just saying that there were a couple of small hiccups in the preparation for finals that come with older gyms. Jody Miall did have to go in behind the wall and replace a T-nut because we did pop one putting on an old school, resin, Pusher Boss that probably weighs as much as a full $100 order of polyurethane holds. You know, small things like that but we did have an hour and a half for change over so everything went up pretty casually.
|Clarie Lam staring down the last hold of Women's #1|
|Carl Desnoyer grovelling out the top of Men's #1|
|Clarie Lam staring down Finals #2|
|Ville Tiukuvaara going to for the final hold on Men's #3|
Men's #2, was just to the right of Women's #2, climbing out that roof. This is also one of the two technical incidents in Men's final. You started on two thin underclings and crossed right hand to a good pinch. Once you got your foot up and you through to catch a tooth-style hold and control a pretty involved swing. once you controlled that you brought your foot up and fell in to a decent undercling with your right hand just above that pinch before throwing for the zone hold which was a the Granite Block from Friction climbing. A dirty toe scumb helped you come in to another undercling right below the lip that you used to do a big movve with your left hand to a pinch way up on the face. From here you caught a gaston out right and again, controlling a decent swing, leading to a top out on one of the ugliest holds I've ever seen.
|Marieta Alkaski starting the fight that was Women's #3|
|Ville Tiukuvaara sticking zone on Men's #3|
|Marieta getting into the knee bar on the final Women's problem|
All in all I think women's final was a good mix of styles and definitely a different pace for the ladies. There was a little bit of trickiness, some weird form of volume boxing, some dynamic climbing and some straight up burl. I think it was a good mix and the winner Kerry "Briggy Smalls" Briggs really showed that she was the most well rounded competitor. We'll see what happens at the next Tour De Bloc out east, which will be at Grand River Rocks where I'll be joining that crew to be chief. Should be interesting, we'll see what the ladies bring to the table at that comp.
|Fellow Flashed Athlete Dave Hareema working out the funki on Men's Final #4|
As far as men's finals was concerned I really feel that we did a good job of keeping the men honest in their abilities. I don't think there was anything insanely tricky, no weird volume bloc or anything but overall, we got a perfect breakdown. I really would have liked to see a flexibility bloc for them, I find that's the one skill set that usually gets left out of men's final. I think a lot of male competitors, myself included, have gotten away with coasting through and not having to stretch or work on their flexibility. Gentleman, its a skill set. The ladies gotta learn to dyno, we gotta learn to stretch. In fact, Imma stretch right after this. Maybe...maybe when I go climbing tonight...you get my point.
Congrats to Yves and Kerry again for their awesome win, both members of Coyote Rock Gym Climbing Team so a nice home turf win for the two of them. Full results can of course be found at Tour De Bloc
Alright, I'm out! Thanks for reading, I'll be head to Abbotsford, BC to Chief up the Project Climbing Center's Tour De Bloc in two weeks, so look for that. Alright guys, stay psyched! Peace!