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Max Zolotukhin Reports on The Dark Horse Series: ROUND 1

Max Zolotukhin Reports on The Dark Horse Series: ROUND 1
November 09, 2010 -  Max Zolotukhin    

A quick, fun recap of the first of three Dark Horse competitions held at Metrorock North in Newburyport, Mass.

On Saturday the 6th of November (or Movember as I like to call it), Metrorock North held the first chapter of the Dark Horse Series of bouldering competitions, of which Five Ten is a presenting sponsor (Werd!). I woke up at 9:30, early by my standards, pounded a banana and coffee and drove 45 minutes North to Newburyport, MA.


I've retired from competitive rock climbing only to unretire like 3 times. I'm basically Brett Favre. Though I have mostly been doing a couple national level comps after I moved away from Florida 3 years ago, its the chance to throw down against amazing competitors like Vasya Vorotnikov and Rob D'Anastasio that keeps bringing me back. That, and the chance at winning some rent money.

The 4 hour redpoint was largely uneventful save for the dominance of the CHALKCLOUDOFDEATH. After a much needed reprieve featuring free pizza and an IPA, the spectators were treated to a Youth Finals round for the 12-n'-unders; strong-mos! lotsa ties. Meanwhile, the open competitors decompressed by waxing nostalgic in the lobby.

ISO was looking pretty stacked for a local comp; Boston Rock Gym's 15 year old superteen Andy Lamb, coming off an impressive ascent of China Beach 5.14b, extremely capable young gun Nick Picarella who at just 14 years of age got 2nd at Philly's famed Midnight Burn competition the previous weekend, the aforementioned pros, and YOURS TRULY. Vasya and Rob are professional athletes in the truest sence of the word. They've been to over 300 competitions between the two of them (we hypothesized each has spent 20 days in comp isolation if you do the math) and live and breath the competitive spirit. I absolutely LOVE sport and its refreshing to see two great dudes get up for occasions like this when some of our industry's top athletes (cough, cough SHARMA) routinely brush off competition obligations with low-brow excuses. (with all due respect).

My good friend, training partner, and Team Five Ten stud Dave Wetmore and his small committed crew of setters really went the extra mile putting together the finals round. I was sitting in third after qualifying behind V.V. and Robby D. but felt like I tapped into some long lost energy in ISO that was lacking in qualies. The playing field was a set of 5 well crafted Boulder tests. I charged out the gate by running up the first Teknik boulder of Fat Slopers, Talons, and stemming on a Blob in record time, getting super lucky by barely sticking the chalkless finish sloper. Problem 2 was my steez as well, right-to-left lockoffs and slaps on pinches and slopers; I popped off once, but quickly found the top on try two. Number 3 was more of the same and I got to the hold before the top on try two, and saved the last minute of energy for the last two boulders. Problem 4 had some steep campusy moved on incuts to a double dyno to opposing E-grips jugs, followed by a simple move to a crimp and a tension move left to a giant bubblewrap sloper before a finish bucket. I ended up bumping twice to the last sloper instead of leading with the left hand (Drat!) and couldn't muster the last move. The last centerpiece boulder featured 2 new mega-features called Cyphers, basically two giant huecos with slopey rims, big enough to throw a leg inside. This problem was really hard and pumpy for a final problem and myself and the rest of the field got half way into it before pumping out. Vasya, climbing last, did not dissapoint, beasting through to the very last ridiculous move on his best effort before burning out.

Vas' came out victorious with 2 flashes, one top, and the second to last hold on problems 3 and 5. Second through fourth place was a wash with Myself, Andy, and Rob D. all having two tops. The format this time around weighed Flashes above total number of holds, and I narrowly eked out second place over Andy (also one flash, but fewer holds) and Rob (no flashes, but more holds). The girls' field (which I did not get to watch) shook out with Team Five Ten princess Francesca Metcalf dominating as usual, with Melissa Godowski of Central Mass, and asian sensation Sydney McNair coming in second and third respectively.

I was extremely psyched to feel back in the plastic game after a lackluster performance at the Nor'Easter in September and to make a little cash in the process. I am even more psyched for the last two comps in the series in December and February since west coast cutie Natasha Barnes is flying out to join the party...Yay!! Big props to Dave, Josh Larson, and the rest of the Metro team for continuing to improve on what they've got and cranking out tighter comps every time...don't worry Dave, your hard work does not go unnoticed!

The night ended with some rabble-rousing at a Newburyport bar with Dave, Rob, Josh and his girlfriend. FUNSIES.

I guess I might be out of retirement. AGAIN.



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