I was selected for the GB junior bouldering team last year, at the December youth open, but last weekend was the first time I’d had the opportunity to experience a European bouldering competition. We met the team in
airport, and after a bumpy flight, a long wait at the airport and negotiating
the infamous traffic of ,
we arrived in the city. The competition was being advertised everywhere, so we
knew the finals were going to be a real spectacle. Paris
After a long opening ceremony on the Friday night, we headed for bed, ready for an early start on the Saturday to watch the girls and prepare for our qualifications. The wall looked amazing, 4 blocs separate from each other on the raised stage of a stadium sized arena. We went for a run to warm up in the morning cold, and then headed to the warm up wall below the arena. While bouldering to warm up, I was impressed at just how strong some of the climbers were, and knew it was going to be a tough competition. I’d not experienced European blocs before, so was keen to get on them and see how they felt.
It was a frustrating competition for me. I topped the first problem I tried, a quite powerful but technical climb up a vertical wall on gastons, but it went downhill from there. I seemed to be close on so many problems, but could not get the tops I needed. I managed the first, easiest problem after that, but no more. The main difference I discovered compared to lead competitions, is that while there is less pressure on every attempt, as if you’re off that’s not it all over, you need to keep motivated and positive throughout the whole of the 2 hour period. If you fall in a lead comp you have hours or even a day between routes to reflect, get frustrated and get psyched, but in a boulder comp every fall builds up, and requires a quite different mindset to deal with, something that with my relative inexperience of bouldering I have not yet learnt. This will come with time, but its still going to be annoying to fall off with a hand on the finishing hold, or come within a move of topping 3 others.
For Nathan, the captain of the GB team, this was his last junior competition, and he went out with style! He won the final in an atmosphere of the best psyche I’ve seen in a competition. It really was inspiring to see, and it was great to see him on the top step of the podium, the first I’ve seen since I stared competing.
The next day was the turn of the Youth B’s, and they had their qualification in a separate venue. In their first boulder competition, Pete and William both managed to make a European final! I really do envy them for their qualifiers, a whole set of slabs and crimps, hopefully something I get more of, rather than powerful campus moves off slopers, not really my thing that! It was another great final, and we cam away with another podium, with William making 3rd place!
I really enjoyed my first boulder comp, and really hope I get to take part in more next year!