Today was my last day of school before spring break, which means two full weeks of getting to sleep late and relax. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a free moment during the last week. ABS Youth Nationals fell inconveniently on the last weekend before my vacation, and I’ve been scrambling to make up everything I missed before I forget it all next week. I flew out to Colorado Springs last Wednesday, and got in (with all my luggage this time!) at around 8:30 Wednesday night. The next day I ended up hanging out with my friend Riley from Virginia, as well as my friends Eli, Amir, and Cameron from New York and New Jersey. We messed around for most of the day and talked to friends of ours that were just getting into town, then hung out with Elmo, Eleni, Eva, and Frankie from Riley’s team, until we all split up for dinner. We got back relatively late, but climbing started after noon the next day for most of us, so we didn’t need to really worry about what time we got to sleep.
The comp started on Friday around 8, but the younger kids all climbed earliest, so Riley and I met up with my friends Brooke, Solomon, Jesse, Kayla, Kerry, Claire, Sam, John, and several other people I know I’m leaving out (sorry to anyone whose name I missed), and went out to an early lunch. By the time we finished lunch, Riley and Sam had to go into iso, so the rest of us headed back to the hotel. We met up with our friends Laurel and Hannah in the lobby, where they all got me to try playing this game called Llama or Duck, which apparently I was really good at. After about two more hours, my iso finally opened, so my friends and I headed over to warm up. I went out sooner than I thought I would, and before I knew it, it was my turn to climb. I turned around and saw the first problem, and immediately started freaking out a little. I couldn’t believe I got the really technical slab as my first climb. I thought I was going to fall on every move of it, but I managed to flash it pretty quickly. My second climb was more my style, with powerful moves, and I flashed that too. They were both tough climbs though; the routesetters really stepped up the difficulties this year. My third climb was a lot of pinches in an overhang to a jump to a jug. I almost stuck the jug, but swung out too far and faceplanted from about 12 ft. My friends told me afterwards, “It was really scary until you got up, and then it was really funny”. I saw the video of the fall and I have to agree with them. I was a little disoriented from the fall, but I managed to get to the second to last hold on my final qualifier, which was a technical dihedral. This performance put my in sixth place going into semifinals. Only eight people managed to top two or more climbs, which really showed the difficulty of the problems. I stuck around to watch the oldest kids climb, and saw that many of my friends qualified for semis, then headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night.
Semis did not start at all until 11:30, and my age group climbed later in the day again, so I killed a lot of time until I could go to the warm up gym and head to iso. They were actually running slightly ahead of schedule, so I got called to go out a bit sooner than I thought that I would. My first climb was another technical slab, and I managed to do alright on it. My second problem was a fairly straightforward mantle, to some move. I don’t know what they wanted me to do, but I just dynoed to two jugs and it worked, and then there was a ridiculous-looking finish. I got to the last move, and then later found out that there were two holds that I missed because they were the exact same color as the wall. This got me really annoyed, hurt me on my last climb. It was in the overhang, and probably wasn’t that bad, but I messed up and didn’t do too well on it because of my anger. I wasn’t too happy with how I climbed, but I placed eighth in semis, which brought me to finals. I was really relieved I had made finals, so I went to dinner with a lot of my friends, and then passed out, since I had to actually be up early the next day.
I wasn’t all that nervous for finals, and just went out to climb excited that I made finals in such a tough field. My first climb was a weird, technical slab, and I managed to send it on my third try. I felt good about that, and went and flashed my second climb, which made me even more excited. My third climb had a crazy turn-around dyno, and then a lot of showy moves for the crowd, and I managed to send this on my second try! I was really excited, mostly because I was just very satisfied with my climbing. Finals put me in fourth place overall, which qualified me for a spot on the US national team! I was really happy, and celebrated by having steak for dinner and then hanging out in the hot tub with my friends that night.
The next day, we got to the airport at 6:10 for what we thought was a 7 am flight, but what actually turned out to be a 6:20 flight. We somehow managed to get on the plane, and thankfully got home on time. Bouldering season is now over for me, and so now I’m starting to focus on ropes until the fall. I was really happy with my performance at nationals, and am going to start training so I can hopefully have a similar showing at the SCS nationals in July. Congrats to everyone who went out and competed last weekend, and a huge thank-you goes out to Five Ten for their incredible shoes and support.
Photos by Jennie Jariel, Vikki Sloviter, and Shannon Varner