Thursday, 28 March 2013

Finally back from 4 comps in 5 weeks....

I don't know what it is about this blog but it seems to be one of the hardest things to keep up on. I think, at least for the last month its been set a comp till Saturday, get home to my apartment on Monday or, go to next gym pending on the point I was at during the last month, rest till Tuesday and begin the process all over again. At some point I would sit, very briefly and think about how I should be updating my blog but it didn't happen. Obviously right? Anyways, I'm finally back, I've got five days before I leave to set Tour De Bloc Nationals in Edmonton and someway, somehow, I'm going to punch out 4 blog posts of my last month. So without further excuses I will get right into it.

Hive Team Coach Matt Johnson up on his last attempt of Men's final  #4
So, I rolled out on the Thursday morning, a week and a half after returning from Coyote Rock Gym and drove the 50 minutes, I remember this morning being a little over an hour because I'm convinced Vancouverites, despite complaining and telling you constantly that the only kind of whether they get is rain, (FYI as I write this its beautifully sunny and gorgeous out) they cannot for some reason drive in the rain. Anyways, I rolled into Project Climbing Center  to chief up a crew that, to be honest, didn't really need a chief. I joined Tim Catcher, Gary Foster, Simon Parton and owner Brock Tilling. When Brock and I talked about me being Chief, I didn't think I was going to be getting myself in a crew with some of the best setters in the west and it really showed. 

Finals went up very quickly and got forerun even quicker. I think we were done with finals by almost 2pm. This was the comp, I will admit, where I set the least. By the time I got there, Simon already had his first men's final up, Gary had half of his up and Brock was working on his second. It was crazy. Qualifiers went up just as fast. It was a very fast pace and every time I turned around, another bloc went up that looked quality. By the end of Thursday, I was driving back to Vancouver (I knew I wasn't going to be sleeping in my bed a lot over the next month so I was taking all the opportunities I could,) with a small relaxed feeling of "we're so far ahead" and of course the very large worry in the back of my head "how much of all of that needs tweaking?"

I want to talk very briefly, at this point about an opinion I have. I know, I know, I know that some people will disagree with me about this but that's why I'm prefacing it with: this is just my opinion. I don't believe that, in Canada, at the local Tour De Bloc events, or for that matter, at any Tour De Bloc event, we should be doing finals in World Cup Finals format. For those of you unaware of this format, it is, as it is described, used in Finals at all World Cups and most, if not all International events, as well as most countries national level competitions including our neighbours to the south. I know, I can hear the thoughts right now "But Dustin, if it's used everywhere else, why shouldn't we use it?" Yes I get that but here is the point of reason for my opinion; the only person from Canada who is making finals on a consistent basis and would need the practice in this format is Sean McColl. Fortunately for him, he's getting a poop ton of practice at that format by 1, competing at every World Cup and international event under the sun and 2, he lives in Europe and trains with all the top competitors at training camps and the like so although you can always get more practice, I think, he's good. So what type of format do our Canadian National Team athletes need to practice? Well since most of the time a good portion of our athletes are not making it in to semis, and if they do make it into semis they rarely place high at the end of that round, it is just my opinion that our athletes need to get better at 5 min on 5 min off format of World Cup qualifiers and semis, which coincidentally is referred to as "classic format" in the CEC rules. Again, the above is just my opinion, I do like World Cup Format Finals, we ran the finals that way at the Calgary Climbing Center when I was out there in November but, I believe we should be training and preparing our athletes to get better at what they're not good at yet. 

Anyways, the reason for the above rant was that we ran the finals in Abbotsford in the World Cup format, which meant there was no change over, both finals blocs (men's and women's) were on the wall at the same time. 

Qualifiers for women worked out very well. Gary Foster did an excellent job of knowing a field that I have been becoming more familiar with and after the last month I feel very confident going into Nationals with both the men's and women's field, but this break down was good. There was a clear first place, while the other 7 women we're defined through attempts and their bloc choices in the scramble format qualifier. One or two blocs separated 3rd and 8th. 

On the Men's side I think we were a little generous. The men sent their top blocs and the only thing separating them were attempts but that's the way it goes sometimes. The men, like the women, are so close in strength to each other so it's always a challenge in qualifiers to get the separation you need, especially since they're going to watch each other for beta, so anything tricky isn't going to be as soon as one dude figures it out. Pretty much, the tactic I've been employing more and more this year, especially at The Hive for any of our comps, has been too make sure that the top 6 qualifying blocs separate through styles. Meaning that they may all be the same grade, but there is one slab, one power endurance, one raw thugged out power, one vertical tech (not necessarily crimps) one roof (if able) and one kind of sequency funk bloc. 

Anyways, onto finals. 

I can't remember this climber's name, it was all the way back in February but she is crushing the top section of Women's #1

Women's #1 was powerful climb out a large bulge on the right side of the gyms bouldering wall. You started underneath the roof on ok holds, moved into a good incut gaston on the roof and then threw out right to around the lip to a good hold. All the women's feet cut here and it created a little bit of a swing leading to a powerful compression head wall to top out. All of the women topped this problem, most getting the flash.
Hive Team Member David after the balancy crux of Men's #1

Men's #1 saw the boys bring their technical skill and their balance. It started by traversing left onto a volume with no holds on it, to turn around an arete with big, bulbous sloping feet. After that you made a couple of powerful moves on slopers to a HUGE lock off leading to a sketchy finishing move off a very bad crimp. I believe that most of the men didn't get this and the ones that did I think podiumed...but I could be wrong. I know Matt Johnson, Elan McCrae and I think Robert Stewart-Patterson did this bloc and I think that was it. 
Erica Carlson high up on Women's #2

Women's #2 was a slightly overhanging balance battle. Starting standing on a volume, you crimped out a hard lock off move to a getting your foot on another volume which lead to a big move while balancing in to the wall on the large foot on the volume and reaching way out to a bad sloper before gaining the finishing hold. Erica Carlson, above is on that large balance move. It gave more of the women trouble then I thoughtt but it was cool how simple, yet devious this bloc was.
Fellow Flashed Team Member Elan entering the crux of Men's #2
Men's #2 was, what I think, every dude is looking for in the gym to boulder. Steep powerful moves out a giant overhanging spine leading to big moves on good holds out a roof to the finish, if you're a guy, I know that description made your palms sweat. I'm having trouble typing cuz I'm thinking about how much I love that style of climbing. Anyways, at the end of this bloc, we intended a 180 campus move to a high toe hook hand foot match finish but all the guys that got there didn't read it. In fact both the sends that happened on this bloc, Matt and Elan, they both matched out the first hold in the roof to avoid the campus. This though, lead to a really hard undercling unwind smearing against the side wall.
Tiffany Melius getting ready for the final sequence of  Womens #3
Women's #3 was all about how much you had left in the tank. It was a power endurance fest, with the first crux coming from transferring into an undercling on a slight overhang while the second found the women up high on an almost vertical wall on thin holds with big moves in between. Four of the women got up this but they earned every inch and there were attempts between them.
Matt Johnson getting his crimp on for Men's #3
Men's #3 was all kinds of heinous thin messiness on a slightly overhanging wall. There was some funk in the upper section of this bloc, with having to use a bunch of those thin 21 set crimps from Uncarved Block, multiple times by each hand. Only Elan managed to send this bloc, let it be known, the boy can crimp!

Women's #4. I wish I had a picture of you. Unfortunately, every time I end up MCing, I never get any pics. All the photos you've seen here were actually taken by Gavin Johnson, I don't have a website for him but I will get it and leave in my blog somewhere.  Anyways, this bloc climbed out that overhanging spine that Men's #2 cranked out. It was slopey, there were a lot of compression moves and just like #3 it was a long endeavor. At the end of it, only one woman dug deep and sent, on her first go actually, Hung-Ying Lee (Kris for short.) She was the only one to finish Women's #4 and with it, she took the win.
Robert Stewart-Patterson staring down the epic dyno of Men's #4
Men's #4. Up there on the list of coolest blocs I've seen this year. Started on two underclings, you dynoed out right to two holds sloping away from you. You couldn't stick these holds, no matter how much Simon tried in forerunning, but you used the moment catching them created to pop to the next long rail and catch that long orange rail. Such a cool movement, lots of big props out to Simon Parton for forcing this out. I believe Matt Johnson was the only one to stick the dyno and he battle for every inch of the disgustingly hard Squamish style top out that followed but despite best efforts put forth, this bloc went without a send.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed working with these guys. They had their head's on straight  they're truly a talented group of individuals and man they went to work. Awesome comp, good separation throughout each round, the crew lived up to, as Brock it to me in an email "the who's who of Western setting." Big talk but they delivered.

Alright, I'm off to take a break and go climbing before I start my next post about a Youth comp I did back in Ontario. I hope you guys enjoyed it and stay psyched., Climb safe.

Oh!!! One more thing really quick. Huge props to my sponsors; Climbing Hold Review, Climb It and Flashed for providing me with these new hats.

For those of you who don't know, I practically live in my hat. I use it to control thew giant mane that is my hair (although my comp beard is getting pretty fierce too,) I'm always wearing one of these, I think there is actually a picture on this blog somewhere of me napping with my hat covering my face. Sometimes, I'll even admit, I use my hat to carry extra bolts and foot holds. Anyways, HUGE thanks to the companies that keep supporting me and Climbing Hold Review, Climb It and Flashed, thank you so much for the fashion stable of my life/usable tool and storage. 

Alright guys, stay psyched and climb safe. 

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