Two weekends ago was the 2012 ABS13 Youth National Championships. I headed to Colorado Springs with Sidney, Chris, and Di for the competition that concludes this last bouldering season. I was really excited for this competition because this is the first year that I had fun training bouldering and felt good, too. It sounds bad to say that I've never felt good because I've placed well the last few years, but I've never felt like I was climbing my best. Because of this, I would go to nationals just hoping that I climbed my best, which should be everyone's goal, but this year I had bigger expectations.
2012 ABS13 Youth National Championships - Alex Fritz
Qualifier 1 was pretty easy. It had a bit of a tricky sequence through the roof and I chose to skip it and just swing out and match the jug at the end of the pyramid. It's really easy to over-grip on the first climb and I am glad I managed to not waste any energy.
Qualifier 2 I think was easier than the first. It started off with a really cool dyno and followed up with a lot of big moves on jugs. The last move was tricky because there was a directional slopey edge, but it didn't get me too worked.
Qualifier 3 was a lot harder than the first two. The entire route consisted of really cool, over-textured, slopey pinches. Fortunately for me, this was another situation (talked about in last blog) where I knew the holds very well. This were some of my favorite holds and I was pretty relaxed climbing on them. My only mistake on this route was forgetting about the foot at the end until I got to the last move.
Qualifier 4 was my favorite problem of the competition, which is understandable because of my freak move that I managed to pull through. I can honestly admit that I'm not proud of this move, but it does show that I was capable of adapting to my screwed up sequence situation and I worked with it, which makes me happy.
After flashing the 4 Qualifiers, I was tied for first with long time friend and competitor Charlie Andrews. YEAH BUDDY!
Semi's 1 was my third climb of the comp because it was another slab climb. After much discussion with my fellow competitors, it was pretty apparent that I was the only one enjoying all of the slab climbing. My mistake on this climb was risking the sketchy foot stab, but I felt comfortable while doing it and that's all that matters. Flash.
Semi's 2 was a technical climb with a lot forced foot placements. I got this problem second go because I rushed the finish move with out thinking. I made the move to the finish but because of my hand placement I dragged my foot on the wall going around the corner and cut me a little short and swung off.
Semi's 3 was another awesome climb, but I fessed on it hard core. After a really cool wall smear for the start, I biffed the dyno twice before finally sticking it and sending the climb. The climb itself wasn't that hard, but I felt super awkward making the dyno.
After 3 Tops and only 1 flash, I was ranked fourth going into Finals. Had to step it up!!!
Finals 1 was my second favorite climb of the comp and honestly one of the best climbs I've done in a long time. It had everything a good climb should: looked good and was fun to watch, volumes, powerful moves, technical climbing, fluid movement....all around great problem! I felt pretty good flashing this and was psyched to move on.
Finals 2 was another well set climb. I unknowingly was the only one to flash this climb (others sent after a few tries) and was kinda shocked to hear because it honestly did not feel that hard. The climb started out with some powerful moves around the corner and then a technical dyno (wait....what is a technical dyno?!) to the finish off thumb-der-clings (thumb-underclings) and big feet. Everyone that finished tried to use only there thumbs where I gastoned really hard instead.
Finals 3 sucked. And not the problem, I just sucked. This problem was straight hard moves in overhang and the complete opposite of my climbing style. I wasn't fatigued or tired or stressed, I just wasn't strong enough to do the moves or hold on. And that was the difference between first and second; although I did better than Mike on the second problem with attempts, he crushed on Problem 3. In fact, most people crushed me on Problem 3 (but they didn't do Problem 2), and that's what hurt me from winning. Michael O'Rourke, 2012 MJR National Champion, may not have the best technique, but he sure as hell is the strongest youth boulderer in the US right now and he proved that on Problem 3. The kid has raw strength like I've never seen and he definitely deserved first place.
Awards was bittersweet for me. Being my last year, I was happy to make team but with how well I felt all season, missing National Champion by a few holds was hard for me. I can only take it for what is is: Mike climbed better than me, and that's that. I was very honored to make team with all those guys. Michael O'Rourke (1st), and Five Ten Athletes Joe Gifford (3rd), Josh Levin (4th), and Kyle "Tiny" Francis (5th) are some of the strongest and coolest kids I know and to see them perform well is great. Nice work guys!
Two weekends ago was the 2012 ABS13 Youth National Championships. My last ABS Youth National Championships. July will be my last SCS Youth National Championships. I will never be able to participate in youth climbing again. This comp was a big deal for me. Really sad and honestly pretty heart-breaking just being there. There are kids that I will honestly probably never see again and that's hard to handle. Youth competitive climbing has been part of my life for almost 10 years now and I can't believe at the end of this season it's over. Alas, after youth competitions are over there is always the open competitions to compete in and that both scares and excites me. I may not be as strong as Daniel Woods or Carlo Traversi, but if anything I have comp experience. All those yeas of competing in youth gave me something...I won't be walking away with nothing. After writing and rereading and rewriting this, I sit back and realize that youth competitive climbing has just prepared me for what's really out there. I sit back and realize that all those kids who I have met in competitions over the years have gone, are going, or will go through the same thing I am right now. And they love the sport just as much as I do, and they aren't going anywhere either. They are eventually going to compete in adults if they haven't already, they are still going to go on climbing trips, or whatever it is, they are still going to be apart of climbing....and so am I. So I sit back and realize, leaving youth climbing won't be such a bad thing after all.
Thanks to Five Ten for another incredible season. I can't thank you guys enough for all you've done for me! You guys supply great clothes and even greater shoes that help me perform to my full potential.