After making finals at 4EYC’s this season I was selected to go to the World Youth Championships again this year.Last years Worlds in China was an amazing experience and so I was so psyched to get to do it all again. Innsbruck, Austria was the host city this year at the new Innsbruck wall, built especially for the competition.
After arriving Late on Sunday night I was grateful to have 3 rest days before the competition started for Youth B. The first event in the schedule however was the Youth A boulder qualification followed by the opening ceremony in the evening. It was a little odd having the opening ceremony after the competition had began. China’s opening ceremony was one of the most incredible performances I have seen so I had high hopes for the Austrian one! I have to say though, it wasn’t quite as good.
There were a few changes to this years programme, the most significant being the fact that it was the only selection event for the Youth Olympics 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina (youth A only). An extra event was added for this called The Combined Event. This separate event was all three disciplines in one day, one after the other. You could qualify for this by ranking in the top 20 over all the individual disciplines.
The order of events also altered to Boulder, Speed, Lead and then combined at the end.
But there was also a change in the Qualification for Lead and Boulder. Usually, it’s pretty simple; top 20(boulder) and top 26(lead) go through to the semi’s, however this year it was a little bit more complicated than that. Each category was split randomly in half, group A and group B. There were 2 different routes for each group. If you finished top 13(lead) or top 10(boulder) in your group in the qualification round you would be put through to the semi-finals. This meant there would be 13(lead) or 10(boulder) competitors from both groups through to the semi-finals, in total making the full 26 or 20 competitors.
Unlike the usual EYC’s, at the Youth World Championships every round has isolation, so it’s a real advantage to be one of the first few climbers out. The holds or volumes won’t be as greasy or chalky and you will have less time to wait which is always a bonus!
The running order was decided on your IFSC ranking and at the time mine was 4th so Iwas climbing 2nd after they split the categories in half.
I have never been in isolation with such a big team before and to me it felt so much more professional and exciting. There were 8 of us Youth B’s in one of the best isolation areas I have ever used. We had the full bouldering area and a sports hall to use for warm up. Due to the amount of boulders needed, part of the competition had to be held indoors. So for the girls the qualification was inside.
From the moment we entered the isolation zone everything went perfectly for me, from warm up all the way through to the actual performance. All the training and practice seemed to fall into place and I ended a smooth, stress free world cup qualification round with 4 tops in 4 attempts. I enjoyed all the blocs and even though some of them may have not been my sort of style, I am proud of some of the in-the-moment choices I made and it showed signs of improvement in one of my main areas of weakness. Understanding how and why such little foot placements or twists can make so much difference to the moves on a boulder is confusing. Sometimes, I find it hard to get my head around technique. But, if theres one thing I’ve learnt this year it’s that it can make a lot of difference to how well you can climb!
Its such a great feeling getting 4in4 at a World Cup! It also meant I could watch my team mates with no nerves about the outcome of my climbing! After, the qualification round finished I was still in first place! I couldn’t have had a much better start to the competition.
Semi-finals were really disappointing. I tried really hard and by the final boulder my shoulders were too fatigued and they wouldn’t hold on any longer. Everything went well until the actual climbing, I think I was strong enough to top all 4 but I wasn’t able to solve the problem quick enough. On the second bloc I had worked out how to do it just as the time was up so I had to jump off.
At the end of the competition I didn’t even need to look at the score board for clarification. I already knew I hadn’t done enough, and I was already annoyed with my inability to work out how to climb volumes. I knew I had had too many attempts on bloc 2, desperately trying to figure out how to get off the floor. My final result was 13th. One place better than last year but so gutting after what I showed I could do in the qualifiers.
The Speed competition was very short lived for me. I entered speed as I thought I had a shot at
the combined final although after bouldering I needed a miracle in lead or speed to make it through. This seemed unlikely considering boulder was my best event.
My nearest speed wall is at least a 4 hour drive so I hardly ever get to practice it. It’s a shame because I actually quite enjoy competing in speed competitions because I don’t get as nervous and its so quick (for some people).
This year if you false started in speed you wouldn’t get another go and you’d be instantly disqualified. It’s quite a harsh rule and means you have to be careful to listen for the 3 beeps before going. You get one run one on each side of the wall and your best time of the 2 is what’s put forward for the scoring.
First run = 15.79
Second run = 14.80
I thought these were decent times for me but not near my PB (13.72). This placed me in 40th which was a little disappointing.
Over this season my lead has improved a lot less than my bouldering so I haven’t been as psyched for it.
I’ve also got really nervous before every lead competition which has ruined my performance at some internationals.
I decided to just try and have fun and enjoy the lead aspect of this World Champs hoping that this would allow me to put in a good performance.
Out of all the lead comps I’ve done, I’ve been most positive in this one. I climbed my first qualifier pretty well and had such a great time on the route I wished I could have got to try the top section. I ranked well on it but needed a bit more to make semis.
The second qualifier was much more my style and I was so psyched to try it and felt really confident after reading it with Ellie (team coach). The black route was on the right arête of the comp wall with a few big volumes but lots of tiny crimps.
It flowed so nicely and I enjoyed every move and fought so hard to reach the bridging spot near the top. At this point on the route I was pleased with my performance. 2 moves later I pumped out quite near the top.
I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed leading so to get the chance to climb again in the semis felt so good. I didn’t expect to qualify in 6th either!
The following morning, Hamish (youth B) and I competed in the semi-finals. We had a viewing period as usual in which I saw this very long route with a large amount of volume sloper holds. Most of them were recognisable but even so, I’m still always stressed about climbing them.
My head was in the right place for this route so I was able to enjoy climbing and not get too shaky. One of my favourite parts of the lead internationals is walking out in front of the crowd. The anticipation of climbing a world class route it really exciting.
At the very beginning of the climb there was a big move which looked a bit dodgy. So when I held it I thought about how much worse it could have been. A few silly mistakes cost me a lot of moves on this route. My plan sort of went out of the window once I got into it. I started resting at every good hold accidentally getting more pumped and had a desperate fight at the end to stay on, not knowing that I was going for the completely wrong hold!
It was a little bit disappointing again but I was satisfied with my ability to control my emotions (better) before and after the competition.
Another plus side was that now I had finished competing I could train at Innsbruck for the rest of the time there. The facilities were incredible and it was really motivating to train around all my friends and so many people who love climbing.
Boulder = 13th
Speed = 40th
Lead = 20th