"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

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Lead World Cup Circuit 2016 - My Experience

Why did I not try this two years ago? That's the question I asked myself after my first lead World Cup experience in Chamonix just a few weeks ago. I had competed at four bouldering World Cups since the time I was sixteen but I had never really considered lead even though it's the discipline in which I've always excelled. In Canada, the competition circuit includes all three disciplines of sport climbing - lead, bouldering and speed - but over three quarters of open competitors just compete in bouldering, at least at international events. Maybe I never considered lead World Cups until now because of this focus on bouldering, the lack of female competitors attending lead World Cups and the Canadian "lack of psych" for lead.  But I'm SO glad I decided to compete at three lead World Cups this season because it was such an incredibly motivating experience! I now am certain that I want lead to be my focus for international competition for the next few years, which is super exciting for me!

The Team in Chamonix Photo: Kimanda Jarzebiak
A lil pre comp sightseeing with mom!! :)

When I arrived in Chamonix just a few weeks ago for my first lead World Cup, I was definitely anxious to see what the competition would be like. As much as I had competed at lead events at Youth Worlds over the years, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, especially when it came to how hard the routes would feel. Not surprisingly, the routes did not feel super different from what I competed on at Youth Worlds in Arco last year. Also not surprising is the fact that most of the competitors on the female side who are making finals are in their last years of youth competition or are freshly out of the youth circuit.

Friends are the best :)

Concentrating on the first move of route 1 in Briancon Photo: Sheila McCarron

Stepping off the ground on my first climb in Chamonix I felt confident through the first ten moves of the route, right up until the first angle change of the wall. I knew from watching other competitors that there was a big move right at the angle change that looked awkward but the hold that was next looked quite good. When I got to that section I was hit by the intensity change of the route. Until then the route itself hadn't been particularly hard but once I reached that move I panicked a bit because I hadn't rested on the hold before and was feeling out of juice. I went for the move anyways because it was too late to backtrack and peeled off, just missing the good part of the hold by a few centimeters. Luckily my next climb was much better and I was able to really give it my all. I ended up placing 33rd at the comp thanks to my better performance on the second route, only missing semi finals by one hold.

Quali 1 Chamonix Photo By Sytse Van Slooten

The trend of having one great climb and one not-so-great climb continued with me throughout the next two World Cups in Villars and Briancon. In Chamonix my first climb was the worse of the two, so initially I thought maybe I wasn't warm enough or rested for too long before I climbed. But when I had a better first climb in Villars I was back to square one trying to figure out what was happening. What I began to realize is that World Cup routes are just unforgiving. It is very easy to make a small sequence mistake, place a toe instead of a heel, have a foot pop or just not commit far enough to a hold. These small mistakes proved to be devastating. As much as I was frustrated with one of my two climbs at each of the World Cups, it never felt like I physically couldn't do the move or that I was too pumped - I just made a mistake. Mistakes can be fixed with more attention to detail and being smarter while on the wall!

Villars Quali 1 Photo: Eddie Fowke @thecircuitclimbing
An uncomfortably high high step in Briancon Photo: Sheila McCarron

After the three comps came to an end, I wasn't necessarily pleased with how the results ended up, but as competition climbers we all know that results can be deceiving. Most of the time the difference between five or more placings was only a hold or even just a plus to the next hold. What gives me hope for the future is that I know I am not far off from making the semi final round. That being said,  I do need to have two good climbs (which is easier said then done!). With more specific training for lead and some new cross training I am implementing in the fall with the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence, I know I will be able to come back to the World Cups stronger and more prepared next year!

Try Hard Face Quali 2 Briancon. Best Climb of the trip :) Photo: Sheila McCarron
Cool Shot of quali 2 Briancon....no I didn't kick the German guy ;P Photo: Eddie Fowke @thecircuitclimbing

As for the rest of my summer, I am now back in Canmore outdoor climbing lots...and hopefully sending lots :) before I head to the University of Victoria at the end of August. Training officially won't start back up for me until September so I will have a nice break to rest my body until then.

Until next time,


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