"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

Saturday 27 December 2014

Pan American Championships 2014

Hi Everyone,

It's been a while since I last posted…I wanted to save my newest post for after the Pan American championships in Mexico City so here we go! I’m sorry this is quite lengthy, so I separated the paragraphs into the different days of competition if you guys only are interested in a specific part.

First of all, I would like to say how incredible the Canadian team is, not just as climbers but also as people. I had such a great time the whole week in Mexico getting to know everyone even better; we shared so many laughs and had tons of fun competing. On top of that, our team brought home a total of nine medals including three gold, one silver, and five bronze and had 19 Canadians make finals in a combination of Lead and Bouldering. That is 17 more people then we've ever had! Such an amazing job team :)

It’s a bird it’s a plane…its superman Creds: Shane Murdoch

Where do I begin? For me, Pan Ams is always a very interesting competition given the fact that it only happens every two years. If you are reading this as a competitive climber you probably know how much everyone improves over one season let alone two, so for me one of the most enjoyable parts of Pan Ams is being able to see how much other teams improve as well as how much I personally improved since the last Pan Ams in Chile. Going into the competition this year I really didn’t know how I would fair against all of the other youth competitors in my category. With the exception of the bouldering World Cup in Hamilton, I hadn’t competed in any international competition since Pan Ams in 2012 since I decided not to go to the World Youth Championships in Noumea this year. So I must admit I was a little bit nervous but nevertheless always excited to get the opportunity to represent Canada in Mexico City.

DAY 1-Lead Qualifiers
The first day of competition was on Wednesday and this consisted of two lead qualifying climbs, with the top 8 advancing to the final round. Our first climb was up the right side of the wall, a somewhat vertical/slightly overhung technical climb. Earlier that day I had watched the youth C climb an easier version of our route so I already had a pretty good idea of the crux. From what I could tell looking at the route there were two cruxes; one about halfway up on some side pull crimps with small feet and the other being near the top, consisting of large moves in between features and finally a stand up to an undercling.  For the majority of the route I felt solid; it wasn’t until I got past the first crux that I started to feel a bit pumped. About ¾ of the way up just at the end of the second crux is where things started to get interesting. After I stuck a small side pull I swung my left foot over a small roof and leaned over to reach a small undercling, I stuck that hold with my pinky finger and used all the strength I had to pull up and get the rest of my hand on the hold. After being very close to falling I hung on as tight as I could for the rest of the climb and managed to top the route a few moves later. After completing the first climb I knew most of the Americans would top so I had a feeling it would all come down to how well I could climb on the second route.

On my way to sending route #1 Creds: Shane Murdoch

The second route was the steepest roof I have ever climbed in my entire life. The holds weren’t bad for ¾ of the roof until the footholds became sparse and I had to resort to double toe hooking or heel hooking.  Just as I was nearing the lip of the massive overhang I stopped to take a rest and evaluate my next moves. The next move was a one arm throw over the lip to a hold that looked like a jug from the ground but ended up being a sort of round and greasy ball. As I jumped over the lip I latched onto the hold and screamed as loud as I could; I swung my foot over to the feature on the opposing wall only to have my foot not be able to reach the hold. After two great climbs I qualified in fifth for lead finals.

Thank god the roof is over....14 draws later Creds: Shane Murdoch
Route #2-Creds: Shane Murdoch
DAY 2-Bouldering Qualifiers
Day two was bouldering qualifiers. After a great showing of strong climbers on the previous day it was evident the problems were going to be really difficult. I stepped out onto the mat mid morning ready to pull hard. I flashed the first slab problem and topped the second problem on my second try. I tried incredibly hard on the third slab problem but I didn’t end up being able to get the last few moves. The fourth problem was a big overhang, more my style but so powerful. After a good qualifying round, I was tied for 6th with fellow Canadian Beth Vince going into the semi final.
Getting my slab on-Qualifier #3 Creds: Shane Murdoch

Qualifier #2 Creds: Shane Murdoch

 DAY 4 Lead Finals
After a well deserved rest day watching speed it was finally time for lead finals. I woke up that morning feeling a bit off; maybe it was my nerves kicking in or the mystery meat I ate the night before but either way I accepted it and got prepared to give it my all. About an hour after we got into iso it was our category’s turn to preview. We walked out to the wall, facing the crowd - a moment later we got our first glance at the wall. My first thought was wow, what a perfect route. Slightly overhanging, crimpy and powerful - this is going to be so much fun. Fourth to climb, I stepped to the wall, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and smiled beginning my journey upwards. I moved confidently through the first three draws then moved right to a gaston before going over the lip and up onto the headwall. I grabbed the gaston with my right hand shifting my weight over to match then bang, just like that my left foot popped and with that I was flying through the air. What just happened? When my feet touched the ground it hit me. My dream of making the podium at a continental event was gone and a rush of anger and frustration washed over me. It should've been my perfect route. I had climbed so well in qualifiers and I knew I was capable of getting so far on this route but unfortunately things don’t always work out. As much as I was really upset with my performance I realized I had to forget about finals so I could perform well in bouldering semis the next day.

 My foot is still on the wall right?! Creds: Shane Murdoch

DAY 5-Bouldering Semis
Bouldering semis and finals were a bit different at Pan Ams this year. The format was still five on five off, however instead of four boulders there were only three each round which leaves little room for mistakes or for that matter falling at all. Semis problem number 1 was a technical route with a mix of slopers, small finer rails and non existent feet - a theme common at the competition. I managed to flash problem number one, which gave me the confidence boost I needed to tackle problem number two.  The second problem was a 40-degree roof, which I was beyond excited about. Looking at the problem to me it seemed like there were two possible ways to get to the bonus hold. Either a big move from the second hold or a few extra moves left on some flat looking holds. I was torn between which way I should get there but in the end I went with my gut instinct and took the long way around, as it looked like the way the route setters intended it to be climbed. I got to the bonus my first try and jumped and screamed my way up the rest of the wall (literally) securing a flash on the second problem as well. The third and final problem was a balancey slab problem with the smallest flattest crimps I’ve ever held onto. I secured the third and fourth hold rocking onto my left foot in an attempt to reach the bonus but every time I moved my foot slipped off the hold. I didn’t end up getting that move but later learnt that many people had trouble with this move as well. After my semis performance I moved into finals in fourth place from count back to qualifiers.

Semis problem #2 Creds: Shane Murdoch

Semis Problem #1-Shane Murdoch

Bouldering Finals
Bouldering finals was that same night. After three stellar climbs that morning I knew I had to climb just as well or better in order to keep my position or move up in finals. The finals problems were on the opposite side of the wall from semis…the more vertical section. Problem one consisted of a split start on two pinches for the hand and two features for the feet. After the start move to a small edge there were four more precise moves on large slopers before a rock-over to the finish hold. I took my time to look at the problem and figure out the sequence to make sure I didn’t make any dumb mistakes. I hopped on the wall and made my way to the top reaching the finish hold with my arms in full extension. Problem two was a 9 move awkward problem that moved out of a corner and traversed left on some big flat holds then one move upwards to a feature with a foothold for the finish. It took me two tries to get the first move but once I did, I made it to the last move. I set up for the final move and just missed the seemingly non-existent finish hold. After that attempt I was sure I could do it, however with about 1:30 left on the clock I had no time to rest. When I attempted it again, I couldn’t get the last move. I ended up with only the bonus hold on this problem. As I was sitting waiting for my attempt on the third problem I couldn’t help but notice the continual and familiar thumping noise of feet hitting the mat. I chuckled to myself the last problem is a dyno…nice! In the months leading up to the competition I had been working on dynos so I was ready to give it my all. After what seemed like only seconds it was my turn to climb the final problem. I turned around and realized I was right…the first move a double hand dyno from two pinches to two round slopers over a lip. I got on the wall, glared with anger at the two holds looming above me and geared up to jump with all my might. My fist attempt was not great but the move felt possible. On the attempts following I would grab the holds with both hands sticking them for a second but I wasn’t able to hold on long enough to stop my swing. Unfortunately I had to walk away from this problem empty handed, although my scorecard was full with 13 attempts.

Finals problem #1 Creds: Shane Murdoch

My try hard face Creds: Carlos Cardona
I ended up placing 8th in Lead and 5th in Bouldering. Initially I was frustrated as I didn’t achieve my goal of a top three finish, but I was half a move away from making the podium in bouldering. With the exception of one climb I can honestly say that I climbed the best I ever have at any competition which is a feeling that in my opinion no result can top.

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to the event organizers, route setters, judges, my incredible parents, teammates, my super amazing coaches and my sponsor Flashed. Without you guys none of this would be possible. Also a shout out to Delaney Miller’s parents - you guys are wonderful - thank you so much for your support!

Full results of the competition

Next up is a TDB at my home gym Jan 10th - can't wait!

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and have an awesome New Year!


Sending fist bumps with Dad-Shane Murdoch

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