"Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it, so it goes on flying anyway. "
-Mary Kay Ash

Sunday 8 June 2014

Hamilton World Cup 2014

I remember watching the Hamilton World Cup last year on the live feed, analyzing every move, every problem and watching intently as the seemingly impossible boulders were completed by the world's best. Last year the World Cup seemed like a distant dream for me, almost unattainable. But this year things changed; at every competition I tried to keep a smile on my face and climb every problem how I did at training - with determination. And after my first Tour De Bloc Nationals this year, I qualified to compete in the Hamilton World Cup. It was an experience I'll never forget!

The morning of the comp, I watched the men's qualifiers. I sat down in the second row of the stands with my teammate Alyssa Weber and my mom, only to find Juliane Wurm, Alex Puccio, Shauna Coxsey and Anna Stohr sitting in front of us. That's when it hit me. I would be competing against the top climbers in the world...wow! As the men's qualifiers got underway it became increasingly evident that the problems were EXTREMELY challenging, so I had more of a sense of what to expect during my qualifying round in the afternoon.

Alex Puccio and I :) - Photo Creds - the amazingly fabulous Alyssa Weber

At 3:30 I walked into iso with the Canadian girls. At first I was really nervous; I didn't know what to expect or what the vibe would be like in iso. But the first thing I noticed when I arrived was all the top-ranked girls warming up together, laughing and just having fun. I was quite surprised by this; I was expecting the vibe to be serious at an international competition but it was just like they were climbing on a normal training day which made me happy and stoked to climb.

After a long 3 hours in iso, it was my turn to climb. I was brought to the gym on a golf cart and I had ten minutes to get my shoes on and get my mind psyched and ready to go. Once I was in the on-deck chair I reminded myself to just go out and have fun. In what seemed like a few seconds, I was walking towards problem 1 with a smile but ready to crush. Unfortunately, problem 1 didn't go so well :( It was a vertical problem that consisted of a press into a corner and a jump sideways to the second hold...I bet you can all guess how that went for me - haha. After my not-so-successful attempts on problem 1, I was pretty frustrated but told myself to release all my anger on the next boulder.

Problem #1-MK Photography

Problem 2 was more my style. It began on a complete roof; the opening section was three campus moves before a giant purple volume. Once I got there, things got interesting. After I grabbed with my right hand around the volume, it was a massive bump again to a giant sloper. It took me two tries to just stick that move as I was fully extended and could only do the move with a heel hook around the right side of the feature. Once I got that move the bonus hold was next. I matched the bonus hold and campused to the second-last hold. I was so close; my heart started beating faster and the crowd began to cheer loudly. I threw for the last hold, grabbing it on the very edge. Immediately, I felt myself falling backwards. That happened two more times. I never topped problem two but after I had gotten so close I knew that the problems were actually doable and that maybe I could pull off one of the next ones.

Gearing up for the big move on problem 2-MK Photography

Problems 3 and 4. Ohhhhhhh man, where do I begin? The move to the bonus hold on problem three was the stopper move. There were two really crappy flat crimps on a feature, then it was a big pull over the lip to a tiny slot (the bonus hold). I tried time and time again to heel hook the feature, to push off the feature, to bicycle the hold to the right of the feature. But nothing was working. I later found out that a knee bar may have been slightly useful unless you're Shauna Coxsey and can do it with a double heel hook! Problem 4 was a giant sideways dyno off two very bad flat side pull crimps. Knowing dynos are not my strong suit, I was a bit worried. I tried super hard and actually managed to catch both holds every time, but had too much momentum so I swung off every time.

Then came the last problem. I turned around to look at the route and thought, heck yah! As I scanned up the route I noticed the bonus was the second-last hold. I paused for a moment and thought what in the world.....the span between the bonus hold and the last hold was massive. I saw the top of the wall was not taped out and I knew I had to shuffle my way along the top to reach the finish hold. On my first try I got to the last move but fell trying to match the lip. Every time the same thing happened, no matter how much I hung down on my arms and kept my core tight I was just one inch too far from the finish hold. So with that I knew my time competing at the World Cup for this year had come to an end. As much as I wasn't happy with how I climbed, I put a smile on my face, waved to the crowd (that felt SO cool) and walked off the mat to join my fellow teammates, my mom and my Dad sitting in the crowd.

Good ol' last move on problem 5 - Creds: Miguel Jette

Quali routes getting done by the world's best!

I think what I learned the most from the weekend was to really think about the different possible ways to do problems. The reason I got stuck on problem 2 was that I was basically trying the last move the same way and not pressing my foot against the right wall, which would have been way easier. Normally at local competitions, I'll think about many different ways because if I try a move and it seems really difficult, I always think I must be doing it wrong or missing something. But when I got stuck at the World Cup, I thought I was doing the correct beta but the move was just too hard because they're World Cup-standard problems. But I shouldn't have thought of it that way. For me what it came down to I think is experience. Looking back, I know I had the strength to do problem 2 and 5, but I need to gain a lot more experience which will evidently come with time.

My first World Cup experience was one I will never forget. It was amazing to see so many young up- and-coming climbers in Finals...so motivating! I ended up placing 35th, not the result I would have liked, but so grateful for the opportunity to represent Canada. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me get to where I did this season. You all rock! :)

Current Word Ranked #1 Akiyo Noguchi

Just a quick update on what has been happening with me recently...my sister and I were featured in the June Gripped issue - shout out to Brandon Pullan for making that happen. As well, Sara and I were on Banff Center Radio last week talking about our climbing experience so I will try and find an online version of that when it is released! As for what is next, competition season is over for the summer. I'm stoked to be attending the National Team training camp here in Canmore in July. I'm going to keep training hard for the Pan American Championships in Mexico in November and try to get outdoors as much as I can!

Happy summer shenanigans,


The not so photogenic but awesome Canadian Team

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