The day itself was fantastic. The routesetting team of Napier, Bishton and Feehally had done themselves proud and the qualifying problems were butch and bizarre in equal measure. Other people have blogged about the comp in detail including the Foundry themselves, and competitors Ethan Walker and Gracie Martin, and there's an excellent set of photos on the Foundry's Facebook page. Slackjaw Films even revisited their seminal Hard Plastic, and made a short film of the event. In the end I was extremely lucky to get to climb in the final. Not only did Ben Moon retire after crushing qualification, but I scraped my way up the harder problems in qualifying by the skin of my teeth.
|90's legend Richie "fragile" Patterson holding it together in qualifying. Credit: Paul Bennett|
In the final it was a similar story. The strength wasn't there to enable me to do well and other climbers were definitely stronger. At the end of the first two boulders I'd barely managed to get off the floor and was feeling well and truly beaten.
|Shut down on P1. Credit: Paul Bennett|
In the end, however, I had some luck on the last two problems and managed to scrape my way up them. This was good enough for third place and a generous prize, thanks to the Foundry. Martin Smith and Ethan, in first and second respectively, were much much better than me on the day but let's not dwell on that. Instead, I want to talk a little bit about what changed after the first two problems to allow me to get up anything at all.
|Getting angry on P3. Credit: Paul Bennett|
The change can be summed up with three little words. A-ggre-ssion. I went back into isolation after the second problem and gave myself a bloody good talking to. And I came out and tried the third problem a different climber. It's so important in comps to come out and really want it, but how can you do that when things aren't going your way? Everyone has their tricks (I got Graeme Alderson to give me a punch in the chest), but I reckon the U.S ski team are on to a bit of a winner.
Until Dec 2013, Pete Lavin (aka 'Baby Huey') was employed by the US ski team to stand behind skiers at the start gate, and shout at them. Loud. Don't believe me? - check out Bode Miller on the receiving end...
With the CWIF just around the corner, it's worth pointing out that Huey is probably available for hire, since he left the team following the appointment of a new austrian coach. Failing that I'm sure I could hire Grimer to stand on the edge of the mats shouting encouragement. I'm going to be unstoppable...