Thursday, 6 June 2013

Canadian Nationals

I always forget that I have a blog. It's terrible I know, cuz by now I should get used to using it and trying to keep it up but no, I just keep getting later and later with updating this thing. I also warned all of you that I suck at writing right? That coupled with the fact that every I set a comp I basically come back to Vancouver and need at least two days of recovery plus another day to catch up with all my work at the Hive....yea I know, all of you out there are just rolling your eyes thinking "excuses, excuses Dustin." Well you're right, so I'll stop.

Aaron Eden surveying the wall the first day.
So before I start ranting and raving about things, I'll give you all a little background of the situation. At the start of this comp season, I had just moved to Vancouver and was really psyched on seeing how I matched up against West coast route setters and how different the field was out here, but also I made a very serious goal for myself, to Chief this years Tour De Bloc Nationals. I based a lot of the comps I accepted to work this year, as well as the ones I offered to do despite having an already qualified Chief Route Setter (an example of this would be Calgary with Simon Villenueve or Coyote already having Jody Miall,) I still wanted to set these comps because I wanted that experience with those setters but also to get that knowledge of the field across the country. So I was a little disappointed when Luigi Montilla (the Director and Founder of the Tour De Bloc as well as the Owner of Friction Climbing Holds) called me and told me that I would have the Apprentice Position at Tour De Bloc Nationals. Now before you go thinking that I'm working my way into an online, 15 year old blogging pity party it was right after Luigi told me this that he informed me that the Chief I would be apprenticing would Tonde Katiyo! Now for those of you who don't know of Tonde, he's a freaking genius of Route Setting 1, but he's set a bunch of world cups, including the Eindhoven and Barcelona World Cup stops I attended 2 years ago 2, and 3, he was the one running the National Team Training camp I went too 2 years ago as well. This guys is one of the best in my opinion and at the bottom of this post, I'll be re posting the interview I did with him 2 years ago for Climbing Hold Review. Long and short of that whole above rant was that despite being disappointed that I didn't get Chief, I was really happy to get the opportunity to work with and learn from Tonde.

The crew doing what we do, not all of it is just throwing up holds

So I wanna do something a little different this time around. This comp for me was a lot of learning how to do things differently, to see what a different process creates and how to adapt to it, so in the spirit of that, I'm not going to cover all the problems, I won't tell you of all our trials and tribulations, what I will discuss is the things that I found interesting in Tonde's process of running a crew (some of this will include complaining.) So without further preamble by me, I give you, my experience of setting Tour De Bloc Nationals 2013.

Tonde's Board
Tonde's Board

Now all year I've been ranting and raving about how amazing the new program I've been using to order all of the scramble format blocs and I know it doesn't apply to an Iso round but I was incredibly impressed by the organization that Tonde used. This is just one of the tools he used, in conjunction with a crazy spread sheet, I'm currently writing this and scouring my emails and computer for a copy of this spreadsheet, to complete organize every step we took as a crew towards getting this comp set.

Tonde's Excel Sheet
So let me explain both of these really quickly cuz I think these two tools were both super cool for setting comps and I'll definitely be using these in near future. So the white board above shows each bloc, who was setting it, the style that it was, it's status, how many tops we thought it would get and it's placement in the circuit of the round. The cool thing about that board was really the use of keeping track of the status of each bloc. You can see the column with the "L's", "|'s", "U's" and boxes? That was the way that Tonde was keeping track of each blocs status. The "|" mean's its been set, "L" means its been climbed by one person and tweaked, "U" is when a bloc has been climbed by everyone and tweaked yet again and a box is when it is comp ready. Super cool way of keeping track of things especially since it allows you to just walk by the board and know how far behind, or ahead you are. 

His spreadsheet worked on the same kind of principle except that it added three more very important qualities to keep track of for each bloc:
Intensity: How physically hard it is. Just get your crush on. 
Complexity: How hard is this to figure out, doesn't necessarily need to mean the sequence is difficult to read, could mean very specific, learned movement. 
Risk: How committed do you have to be to send this. (ie if you can do some kind of dirty, weird match to get yourself back in sequence would be a 1 or 2 but a full, all points off dyno would be a 5)
Each of these were given a rating out of 5, 1 being the low and 5 being the high. It's a pretty cool way to look at blocs I think and it covers all the necessary qualities you want to look at when comparing blocs in a a circuit round. Specifically I think it allows you prepare a really well balanced round of climbing. 

Men's Finals #4, the all features nightmare on the left, Women's Final #2 on the right.
Qualifiers First
Now if you've been following my blog, or even if you haven't, I'll tell you right now, every comp I've set up until this one, with the exception of USASCS Youth Nationals in Atlanta about 4 years ago, I always, always, ALWAYS, set finals first. Gets them out of the way and allows you to basically go into the very casual setting of qualifiers. First day we sat down, all of us on the crew, and Tonde threw it out there, thinking of doing qualies first. My instant thought was "um, I don't do things that way." But out of iut came a lot of interesting things. When I talked to him later about it, Tonde said that he always likes shaking things up from a regular schedule and seeing the effects of that change. If you always do your routine then the products you're putting up will become routine as well. Sometimes shaking it up creates new ideas and interesting results. I won't say I'll be doing this in the very near future but I do think this approach provided a bunch of different results that we may not have come to without setting qualies first.

My way of ensuring the finals holds don't get lost or stolen
Now I like talking about boulder problems as much as the next climber. I admit to being completely infatuated and obsessed with certain blocs, specifically some in the world cups. (On a side note has every watch the Milau finals recap? Cuz if you haven't you need to, just to watch Women's Final #2. I don't know how long I've been talkiong about it with fellow Hive Setter Andreas Lerch but that problem is so insanely awesome and dope it makes me want to mail the Chief route setter of that comp the Bloc Of The Year award. Gah! It's so amazing! Anyways.) I enjoy discussing and talking about blocs BUT every night after setting we would discuss every bloc, how the field would receive it, how many people get up it, possible tweaks, things we liked, things we didn't....ugh! The night before finals we spent two hours talking about maybe tweaking finals only to come to the conclusion that we wouldn't. I know this sounds like all part of the process and what not but after nationals I never wanted to talk about a boulder problem ever again. I completely understand that the results and breakdown we got from this comp came from this whole process, and I think it was a very successful com, however this was just one of the things that I didn't see a whole lot of benefit in. I'm much more a judgement call, go with your gut feel, fly by the seat of your pants, shoot from the hip....yea you get the point. 

Matt Johnson flashing Qualifier #2

All The Forerunning 
This was the comp where we foreran the most. By far. I think we ran blocs at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. So much climbing. I think we climbed every bloc a billion times. Literally. The thought process behind this was that we would know how each bloc felt so that last minute changes would be easier but seriously Tonde, by Friday he's asking us, "how does that feel" and in my head I'm thinking; "I don't know! could be V0 but I've been climbing straight for days now man!"

National Champion Miles Adamson (left) and Tour De Bloc overall  winner Matt Johnson. Both Hive Team Members
So that'll be it for me for Nationals. If you want to watch the interview from two years ago with Tonde the link for the video is here. Keep checking in guys, I'm going to have another HUGE post really soon (I'm done giving you guys timelines cuz I never meet them) but I'll give you a little about what it's all about. 

On the way back from this comp, Luigi dropped me off at the airport and informed me that I would be on the crew that would be setting the World Cup in Toronto!!! SO STOKED!!! Ok, I'm out, I just got back from Toronto so I'll be posting about the world cup soon, I still need to go back to my gym and make sure my guys and girl didn't burn down the place and catch up to life. Alright guys, stay psyched and thanks all for reading. 

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