Canadian Nationals, May 17, 2008

Saturday May 17, 2008 

Today was qualifiers for the Canadian Bouldering
National Championships in Edmonton, Canada. I've
never competed in a Canadian National competition
and was excited when I heard I could participate
back at the Western Regionals some weeks back, now.

Urban Climbing at the University of Alberta is
hosting the event.  There were 22 women and
about 40 men competing in the Open Qualifiers, which
took place today. I was competing as well. First, by
having a 2 day spread for the competition, they were
able to have a reasonable start for the open (iso
closed at 11am) and run it through the mid to late
afternoon. When I left, they were setting the 30 or
so problems for the scramble comp the next morning
(this would be the recreational and experienced
category for the non-competitive climbers). As a
bonus, the problems from qualifiers were going to
remain and anyone not making finals was welcome to
return to try them and the scramble problems the
next morning.

They had 2 heats of climbers and used the zone
scoring (flash, bonus hold, # of attempts) with
participants climbing or resting every 5 minutes. We
started very nearly on time and from what I could
tell, everything went out without any major
glitches.  There was a problem where a hold
spun, but it worked out fine to get him back on the
problem and still allow time for him to do his 5th
and final problem without interrupting the schedule.
Mostly, this was because they built into the
schedule 5 minutes where each problem would get
scrubbed meaning there was an empty spot in the
middle of the heats to correct for this type of

Mike and I were both competing as were a number of
the strong Canadians I have come to know over time
or have competed against in the past or a few weeks
ago. I was super psyched to be in this arena,
hanging out with such talent. And, the problems were
really good!

First, problem number one for the women. There are
rules and restrictions on climbing that as a
competitor you have to understand and keep in mind
at all times when competing. I didn't even realize I
was breaking a rule until I'd broken it and was
called off the problem after only 2 moves into it.
So much for a flash attempt. I inadvertently flagged
my foot too far right and caught the edge of the
wall, which was considered out of bounds. 😦 
ok, so, shake it off and try again. Now, thinking
hard to not do that again, I didn't put all of my
energy into the bonus hold and found myself unable
to make a move off of it or top the problem. The
problem was powerful, but it was within my ability
and I knew when the horn blew that this was an
immediate setback. I would have to hope for a bit of
luck on one of the other 4 problems…

Problem # 2.  Problem 2 wasn't as powerful, but
it was more technical. I was particularly humored
that it reflected a problem I was trying at
Edgeworks just a few days before, minus the funky
right foot toeing.  Anyway, the techy move
consisted of a long move out left to an undercling,
some foot maneuvering and matching nearby for your
right hand on another undercling…so you are double
underclinging on very crappy footholds. I got the
double undercling, but as I went to move to the
bonus hold, my left foot slipped off and I came off
the wall. ouch! so much for flashing problem # 2. I
got back on the problem and was very cautious with
that left foot and managed to stick it and the bonus
hold and top out the problem.  Ok, some
setbacks but there are 3 more problems…

Problem 3. Jump. It was obvious all I had to do was
jump, but I don't know if it was the heat or just
that I lost some ability to just hold crappy holds,
but I dyno'd to this hold and could not stick it.
For the life of me, I'd very nearly have it, you
would think that I would be solid and then slip. My
hands would grease off, my body would swing too
much…I couldn't find another way to get that hold
and I knew that my odds were just stacking against
me at this point. Walking away from that problem was
near certainty that unless I flashed the last 2, I
was looking at placing pretty low. Especially since
I kind of knew how the people before and after me
where doing…

Problem 4. ah, a good powerful and a bit technical
problem. It suited me well. I flashed the bonus hold
and nearly held the next hold after. So much for
another flash.  However, my spirits were lifted
because I was sure I could get that hold….only I
never made it that far again. I don't know what
happened. I was over eager, probably. On my next
attempt, I forgot my sequence, ended up with my feet
cutting and eventually burning out too early. This
was not good. I just drained the power I needed for
any further attempts. I got to the bonus hold on my
last 2 attempts, but I could not make the next hold,
which was one away from the finish. For perspective,
this problem was flashed by one girl.

Problem 5. tricky. This problem had a tricky start.
I lost one attempt in my effort to try something,
which didn't work before figuring out what did. I
got to the bonus hold on the 2nd attempt and for the
life of me could not make the last two moves to the
finish hold. The holds were horrendous to the
fingers, just tiny little things that we had to
squeeze and it hurt after each attempt so you didn't
want to try this too many times. It was also the
last problem so I did want to try it as much as
possible. I really needed another top out.
Unfortunately, this crazy, crimpy thing was not
going to be it. For perspective, not many girls
figured out how to start the problem and only 1 girl
topped it and she was not the same girl who topped
problem #4.

So, where did that leave me…well, with 22 girls,
they were cutting 12…with only 1 top I knew I was cut.
There were a handful of girls who topped 3 problems
and another who topped 2 problems. I needed to top a
2nd problem to place and I didn't so I didn't make
finals. It's the first time as an open competitor
that I didn't make finals. Feels weird. I'm going to
do the scramble comp tomorrow just to get in more

Erin-Ford from the East coast of Canada qualified in
first; she was super strong and the only woman to
flash problem 4.

Thirza did especially well, as well. She topped the
5th problem that no one else could do and flashed
the first 2 problems, topped the 3rd, got the bonus
hold on 4 and topped the 5th. super strong!

Sheena did really well, qualifying in 3rd.

For the Men, Sean McColl qualified in 1st, Marshal
German in 2nd and Simon Parton in 3rd. Mike actually
qualified in 8th. The men's problems were also very
powerful and difficult. There was a lot of big moves
and a lot of jumping a looong way! Good job, Mike!

About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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