The 2011/2012 competition season has finally come to a close – just in time for the first Tour de Bloc of season 10!
The Summer Sweat Fest season wrapped up with the finale at True North Climbing a few weeks ago. I had been looking forward to the comp for weeks after having a ton of fun at last year’s finale event. The setters and organizers also had surprises up their sleeve for the comp format this year, which both excited and intimidated me. I managed to win all the Sweat Fest comps that I entered this summer so I was confident, on the top of my game and knew that I could win it if I climbed my best. Knowing that, I usually put more pressure on myself to perform, and the expectation of winning can often backfire and cause me to lose focus or not try my hardest. This comp was different. I was in a perfectly calm but psyched mindset ready for anything that the setters might throw at us.
Qualifiers were obviously designed to tire out the finalists. There were 25 problems of random difficulty where the number of competitors that completed each bloc determined its value, and every bloc counted toward your score. I finished 23 of the 25 problems, putting me in first heading into finals.
Finals were run in Battle in the Bubble format. Basically, finalists were eliminated after each bloc so the last bloc was a showdown of the top two competitors. I managed to flash the first three blocs. On final #3, I broke a tricky sequence by using a double toe hook to a campus 180 spin. It was a super crowd pleaser and got me through the problem quicker than any guy before me. Below is a clip of my flash attempt on the problem:
Finalists start with a blank slate after every problem, which really forces us to perform and never let our guard down. Anything can happen and there is certainly no guarantee of moving onto the next bloc. For that reason, I was unbelievably psyched to have made it to the final bloc to battle it out head-to-head for the cash prize and SSF title. I really didn’t feel too worked heading into the last problem. But did that ever change! What occurred over the next 30 minutes changed my definition of pain. The grand finalists alternated attempts (up to maximum of 10) with no time constraints to try and send the final bloc. It was a ruthless test of endurance, perseverance and pain tolerance. My forearms still believe, quite literally, that what they experienced that day was torture. After the first couple attempts, I thought something that has never crossed my mind in a competition before: “this literally feels impossible”. Yet, attempt after attempt I threw myself at the problem, urged by the crowd, with the disillusion that the stars might align and turn the slopers into jugs. My elbows chicken-winged, my feet skated, my fingers cried and my tips almost bled. I tried HARD to get that send. Despite digging deep and giving everything I had and more, I was unable to top the bloc. But, I ended up edging out my competitor by one hold giving me the victory!
Coming back to defend my last years title, I managed to pull out one last victory in the season making me the undefeated Summer Sweat Fest champion of 2012! My girlfriend, Iyma Lamarche, also took home the victory on the women’s side. It was awesome fun and I thank all the gyms, organizers, setters, volunteers and sponsors who helped put the events together. Looking forward to next year!
At the end of September I made a short trip down to Atlanta for the IFSC Lead World Cup. Unfortunately, I had prioritized my training for bouldering, which made me feel unprepared to perform at a level I knew I was capable of for this comp. The reality is that I have to accept when I’m not prepared for a competition and make the call on whether it is worth the learning experience, or whether I should just sit it out. Needless to say, I didn’t perform well but I am still very happy I went to represent the Great White North against the world’s best climbers.
Up next is the Tour de Bloc season 10! First stop is Joe Rockheads in Toronto on November 3rd. Will keep you posted!
PS. I was also recently picked up by a few new sponsors! They are Grand River Rocks Climbing Gym and G6 Rock Climbing, check them out:
Once again, thanks for all the support.