ABS Citizen’s Competition, February 23, 2009

ABS Citizen's Competition

Monday February 23, 2009

Saturday came quickly. The kids from the Jr. team

were nervous, you could tell. It was the Youth

Qualifiers that day and the Pro/Adult Finals in the

evening. Since I didn't make finals, I opted to

participate in the Citizen's competition at The

Boulder Rock Club nearby and watch the Finals event

later that night.

I wasn't psyched for the citizen's competition. I

have to admit, both my performance and the club's

reputation for not being a 'good' bouldering gym had

me hesitant. Still, I walked the nearly 3 miles to

the competition and tried to get pscyhed for

whatever would be in store for me. I'd read during

registration that this was a 'highball' competition

and I was nervous to think I'd have to climb those


As it was, when I arrived, I half heartedly

warmed up (knowing I could warm up more fully on

problems in the comp). I did try to keep perspective

and set myself to enjoy the atmosphere whatever the

cost. For me, with previous experience in an open

category at this type of competition meant not to be

upset if I couldn't do any one of the Open problems.

I even mentioned this to the staff at sign in when

categorizing myself (they didn't have an open

category online so I had to insist to move me). They

kind of looked at me a bit odd to think tht no woman

could climb an open problem…well, turns out they

were right! In the end, I was the only woman to

climb an open problem, and only one of them despite

numerous attempts on another problem.

I ran into Andrea Szekey there and we teamed up

for parts of the competition. That was fun. Then I

heard Bobbi Bensman was the 'tank of a woman' I saw

crushing problems. I was in awe! I've heard of Bobbi

back in my early days of climbing. She was a rock

star! And, coincidentally, I'd just bought her

bouldering book for inspiration (pre-comp mental

warmup, sort of). Anyway, I had to meet her.

She was really friendly and welcoming. We even

sessioned together on some problems. We were

definitely comparing scorecards in the end, more as

a joke to myself to push me to try harder. I'd say

something like, well I see that you have completed

Advanced problem

#8, which I couldn't do so I guess I should try

Highball Advanced problem #9. ha ha. 🙂  She

was clearly winning and I had run out of problems to

keep trying.

Near the very end of the competition, we were

both sessioning one last open problem. She was super

close to getting it and I was far, far, away. Then,

I caught critical foot beta that helped me make a

move I was stuck at, one move less than where she

was stuck. I was able to do the move with the new

foot beta and quickly discovered I could get super

close to the next hold. It was a heck of a reach and

Bobbi had been using a bolt hole to help get height.

But, on my 2nd or 3rd attempt after, I got enough

height to barely get a finger and then two touching

and onto the hold. I sent the problem. I couldn't

believe it! Bobbi hollered up to 'Audrey, I think

you just won the comp!' and I knew I did. She didn't

try the problem again or maybe she did, but she

didn't send it. I think she was being gracious in

not anteing up in those last moments. But, it was

such a thrill to be climbing with her that it really

didn't matter that I had won. I was psyched to have

won, don't get me wrong, I was inspired to try hard

and I have her to thank.

Some photos and video of ABS Finals can be found


my Webshots photo site.

About Audrey Sniezek

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