Monday, October 24, 2011

ABS Competition Re-Cap!!

By RyAnn Lugo

As the Aiguille gym filled with competitors, parents, and friends on the morning of the American Bouldering Series Competition, there was an undeniable ambiance of excitement passing through, along with the snazzy new ABS T-Shirts. Aside from the brand new, brightly colored holds, it's obvious that Mark and his choice team of route setters put a lot of thought into crafting exciting new boulder problems for this year's comp. As a "Red Point" competition, the competitors had 4 hours to climb the routes of their choice. The harder the routes, the more points they are worth. At the end of the competition, climbers submit their top 5 scores, including the number of falls, which deduct 10 points each. < To learn more about Red Point and other competitions, click here: >

The 50 new routes, extending into the lead cave and far left walls, are among some of the favorites in ABS history, and will remain until the Dead Hang Halloween event on the 28th. According to Mark, the route-setting team's main objective was to set as many fun and aesthetically pleasing routes as possible, challenging climbers on route reading and new techniques to add to their climbing repertoire. "One of the most important aspects of comp-setting," says Mark, "is being fair to all sizes, skill levels and styles, taking into consideration different strengths and weaknesses. For instance, problems on a slab wall are well suited for a climber with more delicate movements, as opposed to something that requires more strength, like an overhang problem. You always want a balanced amount of technical and powerful routes."

As the competition progressed, participants stayed psyched with the help of JSHIH (pronounced Jay-Shee), Aiguille's personal DJ, whose beats were a favorite aspect of the competition. "JSHIH is awesome," says Ben Hoberg. "He kept me psyched." JSHIH DJs for just about every major Aiguille event and you can check out his music at:

If you are new to climbing, and/or competitions, some of the following interviews should provide insight to the ABS experience, as some of the top placing competitor's answer questions about their personal journeys.

Jeni Collins

Taking first in the women’s advanced, at 13700 points, Jeni Collins shares some of her most memorable moments during the comp as well as some vital advice for new climbers:

What was your favorite route? I had a really good save on the blue V5 route (#44). I felt really strong on it, but as I was about to complete it, I almost barn-doored off. I was able to catch it though, and finished. So, I really like that route because I felt really good about that. It’s pretty memorable and, overall, I thought all the routes were great.

What training benefited you the most? That’s a tough question because I actually haven’t been climbing that much this semester. Haha! I was just focusing on bouldering more and building strength.

What did you have for breakfast?: I made a yogurt parfait - vanilla yogurt, strawberries, chocolate chips, and granola.

Do you get nervous at competitions and what do you do to calm your nerves?: I was pretty nervous for this one, but what I think helped the most was just remembering to breathe - before I get on a route and, more importantly, while I’m on a route, so that I don’t get too pumped.

What do your workouts consist of? I climb about twice a week. When training, I warm up by bouldering, then move to top-rope and/or lead climbing. I often use the hang-board and do pull ups as well.

What else do you do besides climbing? Paddle-boarding is really fun. Its like a 9 foot surfboard that you stand on and paddle. It’s great for working on balance and core. My Dad let me borrow his paddle-board and Rollins is right on a lake, so I like to do that as often as I can. I also like to swim and, since I live right next to the gym at Rollins, so I work out there too. But I mostly just climb.

As the president of the Rollins Climbing Team, how do you motivate your climbers? I remind them that everyone starts out the same, no matter what you’ve done before. Like anything else, it’s a process that requires hard work in order to grow.

What are some of the plans that the Rollins Team has for this year? Right now we are raising money for CCS (the Collegiate Climbing Series) so that we can get more competitors. Last year, we had about 4 climbers competing consistently, and the year before that it was just me. Haha! So, we are hoping to continue to bring it up and bring 4 or 5 new climbers with us to CCS and other competitions as well.

What is some of the most important advice that you think a new climber should have? Many beginners don’t think about using their legs, which, since they have much more muscle mass compared to your arms, they have more strength. If you rely more on your legs, you use up less energy, and therefore climb longer. The best thing to do when starting out is simply to climb a lot and watch other people to get the technique. Another really important thing to work on is abs. For new climbers, I think working core strength is just as important and overlooked as relying on leg strength.

To Jeni’s disappointment, she was not be able to finish harder routes in the right column, but she certainly had the potential, considering that she hadn’t trained very much and still one first in her category! She hopes to regain 1st place in this year’s CCS competition. She says, “I got first two years ago and last year I got second. So, I’m hoping for first again this time around.” At Nationals, Jeni also hopes to reoccupy a place within the top five again this year.

Ben Hoberg

Taking 2nd place in Men's Open category, with 2300 points, Ben Hoberg, also offered some great advice for new climbers, as well as some of his special training secrets:

What was your favorite route in this years comp? I really liked the overhung teal one in overhang in lead area (#40). It has some really interesting movements, plus, it was kind of funny because I found out later that my Dad had set it.

Even though this was a local competition, were you nervous? What do you do to calm nerves?: No, I wasn't nervous for this one, but for bigger comps, definitely listening to crazy music, like Dub-step, or a song called "Bodies (Let the Bodies Hit the Floor)," by Drowning Pool. That one gets me going, makes me forget that I'm nervous.

What training benefited you the most? Working lock off strength.

What did you eat for breakfast? A McSkillet from McDonalds. Yep!

How did you build your technique? Just climbing for a long time and feeling the natural movement. It's different for everybody. But the more you climb at your limit, working problems beyond your abilities, the better you become. Even if you can't do it right away, if you keep working at it, you will get it eventually.

What do your workouts consist of? I usually do a thing called "600 Moves," which is a bunch of laps, lock offs, and then the next day I just run and do a full workout.
Is there anything else you do to workout outside of the gym?: Outside of the gym, I like a bit of everything, but my hobbies right now are Frisbee and Long-boarding.

Biggest mistake that new climbers make?: Poor technique, but that's all part of starting out. Probably one of the most important things is knowing how to fall. Sometimes new people hit the ground like a brick, instead of redirecting the energy. It's easy to twist an ankle or a knee coming down. It's also really important to be conscious of bringing your feet down when slipping off of an overhung problem. You don't want to fall on your back. So, I'd say that one of the obstacles for beginners to overcome is getting comfortable with being up high and learning how to fall without getting hurt.

Starting out, did you have a mentor or coach? My mentor is Jim Lott, who has climbed here since the gym opened. He's really cool. I actually still work for him sometimes, doing lawn maintenance.

What are your hopes for future competitions or climbing endeavors?: Want to be top 5 in the international ranking.

Cody Seibert

Cody Seibert, who was tied with Hoberg at 2300 points, with only one more fall, took 3rd place in the Men's Open category. He also offered some great advice for new climbers as well as first time competitors:

What strategies would you share with a first time competitor? First, I would typically warm up for about 15 - 20 minutes. After warming up I figure out the grade based on how a route looks/feels. I correlate the point values of routes to this estimated grade. That way you get a good idea of what you want to go for in terms of your own skill level. For younger kids, it's important to read the routes and make sure the moves are within your reach.

What did you eat for breakfast? A bowl of cereal... And maybe 4 glasses of milk.

What training to you think helped you the most? Climbing hard is always the best training, but I was working specifically on pinch strength.

What was your favorite route? The orange V8 (#42) in the lead cave; it is overhung and has lots of crimps.

How do you calm your nerves before a competition? I really don't think about it; I just kind of show up. One thing that helps me focus before getting on a route is taking a deep breath and holding it for about 10 seconds.

What are your hopes for future competitions? I'm always looking to improve but I don't really focus on winning. I just do it because it's fun.

Davis Stewart

Taking first in Youth-A category, with 51800 points, 15 year-old Davis Stewart agrees that these routes are some of the most creative among the past ABS competitions, specifically the Orange V7 on the wave (#14) and the Green V4 in the lead cave (#43).

What do you do to calm your nerves before a competition?: I don't really get stressed out at locals, but when it comes to nationals, I just stretch and breathe.

What did you eat for breakfast?: An Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese.

What training do you think helped you advance in the recent months?: Climbing with people of higher skill level and making up new routes with them.

What advice would you give for new climbers?: Climb with people of your skill level or higher and invent new routes. It's a perfect way to exchange beta and new techniques.

Davis trains at least 3 times a week with Team Aiguille and hopes to make the US Team, which is the top 4 in Nationals.

Rachel Carr
Aiguille climber of 4 years and first place for the Women's Youth-A category, with 17400 points, Rachel Carr talks about her strategies and overall climbing experience:

For many climbers, it is important to have a strategy. Did you have one and what was it? I watched how other people were doing the routes and tried not to tire myself out. I warmed up on some of the easier routes, took a 15 minute break, warmed up again, and then went for the harder routes.

What did you eat for breakfast? Eggs and a plain bagel.

What was your favorite route? The pink one with big volumes, in the lead cave (#32).

From what training do you feel you benefited the most? Working hard problems with other people and lots and lock-offs and crimps.

What do you calm your nerves before a competition? Listening to my iPod usually helps me block everything out so I can focus on warming up. I really try to forget about the competition and focus on my own goals.

Do you do anything outside of climbing to work out? I like to run sometimes. Cardio is pretty important.

What advice would you give new climbers? Always warm up to avoid ripping tendons or other injuries. Climb hard, train harder, even if you feel like puking.

Rachel trains at least 3 times a week with Team Aiguille. She hopes to someday win Nationals and get sponsored by a major company.

All of the climbers interviewed share a common mindset that winning is never as important as having fun. For these guys and girls, climbing is a life-style and coming out on top is simply another perk to doing what they love. For them, and just about any chalky-faced climber you talk to, it’s not only a tool for leading a healthy lifestyle, but also a gateway into an awesome community of people and developing long lasting friendships. With that said, Aiguille is proud to look back on yet another successful ABS Competition, as the community grew together as climbers, but more importantly, came together as super awesome people. Congratulations to everyone who competed this year, both new and experienced climbers, and good luck in the other local competitions taking place this bouldering season.
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