This summer was pretty much dedicated to training for worlds. After a week off from climbing right after the youth national championships I received an invite for the youth world championship to be held in Victoria, B.C. in late August. From then on it was pretty much crunch time for training. Since we had 5 members from Vertical World make US team this year there were plenty of training partners. Unfortunately, the only time I could go to the gym was in the late evening because of work, so must of the time I was training with my two coaches, Meg and Tyson, running laps on laps each night. It was easy to stay psyched at the beginning but it got harder and harder as the summer went on. The gym was too hot, always crowded and I often ended up in there by myself trying to motivate myself to do yet another set of power endurance drills.
Summer Training and the Youth World Championships - Shannon Russell
It soon paid off though. I started to feel like I actually had fitness (this was a new feeling for me since I used to hate rope climbing) and once I began seeing and feeling the changes in my climbing the psyche came back and training became fun again. I actually felt ready for Worlds and knew that no matter how I ended up placing that I had worked harder than I ever had before and was climbing significantly better on a rope than I had ever imagined.
When the competition finally rolled around I drove up to Victoria with my family and met up with the US team 2 days before the event. Most of the team had already been there for a week which was cool because it was immediately obvious that the team was truly closer and more united than it had been in previous years.
There were 2 days of qualifiers. The first morning was pretty chilly. I was incredibly nervous and after previewing the route was even more scared because the bottom was slabby with small holds, my anti-style. Once I started climbing though I felt a whole lot better. The first 6 bolts of the route were easy climbing with incut holds. I felt awesome until over the course of 2 moves I got ridiculously pumped. I made it 2 bolts higher but then fell off in the roof, putting me in 25th.
Day 2 the route scared me even more because once again we were on a slab start. I felt good climbing though and when I got to the first real crux I held the hold many girls slipped off of but then came up short of the next hold and couldn't stay on. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed since I didn't come off the wall pumped, just made a silly, careless mistake. I ended up in 18th for the day and 22nd overall though so I managed to make it in to semifinals.
Saturday was dedicated to speed. At nationals I slipped off of both my routes in finals so I got 8th place and assumed I was done with it. Enough girls in female junior turned down their invites that ended up getting one. Only 14 girls were in our category at worlds though so instead of going from qualifiers down to the first elimination round of 16, they went straight to top 8. I ended up racing one of the french girls who was significantly faster than me but nonetheless had 2 pretty good runs with low 12 second times, putting me in 10th and ending my day of speed climbing. Finals were super fun to watch though with so many US team kids ending up in the final rounds. Big congrats to Kyra Condie, Kayla Lieuw, John Brosler and Rita Marsanova on their medals!
Semifinals once again looked like a hard slabby route, although this time it was shorter so it seemed like the moves were more consistently hard than the other routes. When I got on the wall I was definitely hesitating more and felt incredibly uncomfortable, as if I was going to fall off on every single move. I finally got to a decent hold though and immediately relaxed. However, I carelessly slipped off of a hold right before the crux. So once again I was pretty disappointed since I wasn't that pumped when I fell off. I still ended up in 19th though so it really wasn't a bad placement, and considering it was my first time competing in sport at worlds I was pretty content.
Despite not climbing my best, I know I improved tremendously this year. I finally put in the work necessary to feel good about rope climbing. I learned to appreciate the mental game and the efficiency that comes from doing 100 moves in a row instead of 6 powerful moves on a boulder problem. So if nothing else, I know I gained a huge amount of knowledge and a much greater appreciation for sport climbing. I'm sad to leave youth climbing since I aged out but I plan on continuing to compete in open so this isn't the end of training for me. I couldn't have asked for a better end to my youth career either. Being a part of the US team this year was incredible and I met a lot of awesome friends!