This past weekend was the Ring of Fire competition in Massachusetts. It was a fantastic comp with some sick routes. The competitors present were as fierce and well recognizable as the competitors at SCS nationals. These competitors and the crowd created an atmosphere that was both relaxed and also exciting. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to compete in such an amazing event! There is no doubt as to whether or not I will attend it again next year!
The comp started off with a qualifying round from noon to three o’clock. It was flash format and there was no running order; you could go whenever you wanted so long as you did the three routes in order. The guys started immediately while the girls waited almost an hour to begin. I personally was still warming up when the comp began, but after about thirty minutes my coach, Kim Puccio, said enough was enough. I have always done better with onsight format than flash format, so Kim said it was time for me to get on the wall and give up on my hopes to watch some of the other climbers, who clearly did not want go first either. I decided she was right, and about that time a few other climbers decided this as well, so I ended up going third. After that, everyone started to put their cards in a stack. Guess all it took was for someone to start the send train.
After sending the first route, I turned my attention to the second. It looked harder than the first, mostly because of the presence of slopers. I read it carefully and got on second. To be perfectly honest, I felt awful on that route. Kim said I looked fine, but I was shaking the whole way up. I sent the route, barely. It wasn’t pretty, at least in my mind, and I felt tired. I decided that I would not be one of the first people to go on the third route and that I would wait until some of the more experienced climbers got on. Bad mistake. I climbed even worse on the third route and did not send. I was pretty sure my performance would not be good enough for me to even make it finals. Next year, I’m not going to worry about watching others. I’m just going to do what I do best; onsight (except I’ll watch the forerunner!). Watching others climb before me just makes me nervous and I then when I get on the wall I forget to climb the route in my own style; I start picturing the climber before me and try to climb it like they did.
Luckily, my performance in qualifiers was good enough to get me into finals at seventh place. I was so psyched! I went to get a good meal with Grace McKeehan, Kim, and Kim’s family. After a plate of chicken and mashed potatoes, I was ready. I went in to iso with a smile and a feeling of excitement. I warmed up quickly and relaxed on the bouldering pads until it was time for preview. We were brought out of iso in a line and introduced by Shane, the MC. He then dramatically revealed the routes to us by dropping a curtain that hung from the top of the wall. Both the women’s and men’s route twisted around the arch of Central Rock and snaked up to the top. They were both sick problems and I was stoked to climb. I came out fourth after two men and one female. I was nervous, but more excited than anything else. I tried to climb quickly and decisively. Ironic because what I thought was fast was later described to me as “sloth-like”. Oh well, guess I still need to work on that. Anyway, as I approached the top, I still felt good. I didn’t feel too pumped, and I began to get excited at thought of sending. I didn’t top it, however, and I think there are two things that ultimately killed me. One is that I passed up a good rest spot that Sasha took advantage of. It was in a corner on decent holds and feet. I definitely should have spent a little more time there. My other mistake is not being decisive enough. I fished for a foot way too long and it made me get extremely pumped extremely fast. By the time I had realized my mistake, it was too late. I fell going for the hold, but didn’t touch it. Sasha fell after getting usable surface on the same hold.
Overall, I think it was a great competition and I’m proud of how I did. It’s true that I made quite a few mistakes, but it’s almost impossible to have a perfect comp and I’m taking away lessons for next year. Thanks to Shane Messer, the route setters, the crowd, and the competitors for creating a truly phenomenal comp.
On a side note, this was the first competition that I wore the new Team Vxi shoes. They are fantastic shoes! I felt like I could stick my foot on any foothold and not worry about popping off. Even on pancake footholds, where in the past I felt unsteady, I felt confident trusting my feet while wearing the Team's. They are very thin, so I could feel each and every groove in the wall. Wearing them feels I’m wearing sticky socks. I am very impressed with the shoe and will definitely be wearing them for my next competition.