Sunday 21 May 2017

First bouldering EYC of the year Soure, Portugal (2017)

My first European Youth Cup of this year was in Soure, Portugal and it was also my first international podium. This is my second year in category B and seeing as I made finals in both the bouldering EYC's I entered last year I was hoping for a really good result.

We travelled out on the Thursday afternoon, flying from Luton airport to Lisbon, Portugal. There was a slight complication with the hire car so we arrived at the hotel a little bit later than expected. Despite this, the Universal Boutique Hotel was really nice and each room included a mini fridge which meant we could buy foods like cheese and ham for the competition.

I got up really late on Friday and had breakfast in the hotel. It's always nice to have a day to relax before competing. For most of the day we relaxed in our rooms but in the morning we walked on the beach where there was a large training/exercise frame and 200m running track! We went over for a go. There were rings and monkey bars on it too. Later, as per usual we went to the super market and ate out in a nearby restaurant for dinner while Lucinda (one of our team coaches) went to the technical meeting to register us for the competition. The only change to the time table was that everything started an hour later which meant we had an extra hour of sleep!

Saturday - Qualifiers

On Saturday we got up a little bit earlier to do our hair in Dutch braids and make some lunch for after the comp. Lucinda drove us to the wall which was 40 mins away and in a Portuguese primary school. I thought the atmosphere was going to be really hot and horrible to climb in but it was actually a really nice temperature and the wall was indoors and shaded from the sun.

The warm up wall was quite large and had a range of different holds. At first glance our qualification blocs looked really hard and to my usual disappointment there were a lot of slabs.

As our category was quite small we only had 1 hr 30 mins to climb. The time was on a large clock above the wall and made a loud buzzer noise when our time had started.

In the first half hour I completed one bloc. The white one FYB1. It was an easy bloc but on my first go I got to the top hold held it with one hand and then fell as I forgot to hold on! When I hit the mats I remembered I was in an EYC and got really annoyed with myself. I topped it on my second attempt.

I had 2 bad attempts on the purple dyno. and moved onto a slab that involved triceps which didn't bode well for me but it had had a lot of tops so I gave it a go. I escaped doing a press up by using my knee to push up then edged my way across getting my first flash of the day!

This lifted my spirits slightly so I braved the second slab. I hadn't seen many tops on it but put my card in anyway. I pulled on a got to the bonus easily then I stayed on the climb for a long time trying to work out how to get to the thin edges that were just out of my reach. Eventually I worked it out and got my second flash.

Hannah had just topped the blue overhang when I decided to put my card in. I messed up my first go but topped it fine on my second. This was pretty annoying but gave me 4 tops which was a good position.

Next I went onto my favourite bloc. The run and jump dyno! I love these kind of problems because they are so satisfying when you top them. My first go I almost held the scoop shaped black volume, which was gripper than it looked. On my second go I completed it easily and felt I had go my flow back.

With only 3 blocs left I went straight over to the black over hang which again I topped on my second attempt. It was one of the hardest blocs in the set. I slipped off on my first go when I tried unnecessarily to swap my feet.

The last blocs were the dyno that I had already failed on twice and the long black roof. I tried the black once and got almost to the bonus but fell because I had wasted too much time.

After this disappointment I tried the dyno twice more getting really close to holding it. I was quite stressed as it all came down to my last attempt. I stood onto the volume grabbed the undercut and leant back as far as I could before jumping out to the holds. I held them and my feet swung back behind me. I was determined to finish it, as it was my final go. The last part was ok just a heel hook and rock over to a side pull and a balanced finish.

Finally, I got back on the black. I used the correct beta this time and got to the bonus from here it was much easier but I was quite tired from the roof section. I got to the last move and pulled to my maximum arm length just reaching the final hold and matching it.

I was pretty happy to get all 8 blocs before the time was up. For the last 5mins I went round with Hannah and helped her out with some beta for the run and jump bloc. After 2 attempts the buzzer sounded and time was up.

I was pretty confident that I was through to the finals but I thought I might have qualified lower down because I had taken so many attempts. The results were correct according to my score card and I had qualified in second place. I was satisfied with the scores as I felt very nervous at the beginning and didn't climb as well as I had hoped but managed to pull it back and get a good result.

Sunday - Finals 

I travelled in the earlier car to the wall even though I didn't start competing until 14:00. I like climbing early and was a little disappointed when the time table was changed so that category B was climbing in the afternoon. So I got up early as if I was climbing in the morning and watched the finals.

Hannah and me were the only finalists from GB and her final was first so we all gathered around and watched. She climbed so well and was only one match of the top hold away from 3rd place.

As soon as Hannah finished her final bloc I went into isolation with Lu. I had the usual nervous/excited feeling but when I started to warm up I felt very stiff and tight especially in my right shoulder. This was annoying but slowly loosened up a little as I got warmer. I used a lacrosse ball on it and Lu K-tapped it for me which helped.

It was time to got out for the introduction next where all the finalists are presented to the crowd. I ran out and almost tripped over the mat but I stayed up and carried on. It was quite nerve-racking just standing there!

Back in isolation I had 25 mins before I climbed so I finished my warm up and sat on the bench and watched the time tick away on the clock. With 30 secs to go until I climbed I was ushered out to my first bloc. I heard a lot of screams from the crowd on this so I knew I needed to top it.

When the final buzzer sounded I spun around and wiped my shoes on my towel. I took a quick look at the slab then pulled on. I found a way up this climb quicker than I thought - I don't have many slabs back home in Wales. I crimped the screw hols and tried my best to remember what I learnt in all the GB boulder training sessions. The moment I matched that hold I climbed a lot better because I was so much more relaxed with one top.

Bloc 2 was a run and jump! I was pretty psyched pulling onto this one. To make the move I kicked my leg back and ran across to the side pull then straight over to the bonus with a big swing. Then it was my worsted nightmare move. I had trained my triceps really hard before coming to Portugal so I could climb these moves. I put my heel up and rocked up as much as I could. So I thought then that the hard bit was over and it was just an easy stand up but no. I had to change the heel I was sitting on to a toe then spin around and finally stand up! At one point when I was almost at the final hold when I heard team GB screaming so loud I had to steady myself on the volume as I knew I was so close and might not have time to do it again. The hold was decent and I held it getting a second flash.

This was the worst route reading I have ever done though out the whole competition. On my first attempt I didn't start right but they didn't notice and I got to the last move but fell off. Second they noticed my wrong start and called me down. Third I was angry that I messed up the first two attempts so I climbed badly and got to the last move but fell off the same way again. It was stupid not to try something else. I had one more go and if I had done it on that go I would have won the competition but I did the same thing again and fell!

I was really annoyed at myself and took a long time to calm down while I sat in the chair but I didn't get too emotional even though that's not what's I was thinking at all.

I fell slightly more angry climbing this bloc as I knew I should top it because it was completely my style and I had to top it to have any chance of winning. On my first attempt I could feel my arms and shoulders were tiring and wouldn't be able to have many more go's. I fell dead-pointing off the bonus hold. I didn't plan my rest tactically but decided to get back on at 03:03 because that's the time I had started to put my shoes on through out the comp. This time I thought my arm was going to give in when I held the bonus but I was so determined to at least get a podium even if it wasn't quite 1st. So I jumped with everything I had and caught the crimp. As I did I felt my skin warring down on the hold. With just 2 moves to go I knew I would make it. I matched the top and looked at the judge. I wasn't too happy at first because of Bloc 3 but then I saw the better side of my climbing.

I was very happy with 3rd place but obviously a little disappointed as well. My first ever international podium!

We had to leave soon so I got my trophy and we all went out to the car and drove to Lisbon airport. About 10mins into the journey when our car went into limp mode and we both had to pull into the hard shoulder. The car was not going to work so half the team went to the airport with Jack and the other half stayed and waited ages for a tow truck. I was with Jack and despite going to the wrong terminal we were fine. However, Lucinda's team just made it in time for the flight! At one point we thought they were going to have to stay the night.

Overall the trip was great fun and I enjoyed being with the team as much as I did climbing. So psyched for France next competition!

Links to recording of live stream:

Portuguese Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing