Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

My first pro-competition coming up + Could rock climbing become an Olympic sport?

After my first full week break (much needed) from climbing in a while, my muscles felt nice and relaxed, and I enjoyed getting to boulder at Stone Gardens Seattle yesterday. Stone Gardens seems to be doing well for itself lately. In addition to having a great, popular climbing gym in the hip Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, it has also recently opened another popular gym called Stone Gardens (SG) Bellevue, which is accordingly located in Bellevue, Wash. (near Seattle). For those of you who read my last blog entry, you would know that last week I was thinking of entering my first professional competition at no other than SG Bellevue.  Only two days ago I registered for this competition, and I know the hardest part of this event will not be the 95 dollars I had to pay to just enter.  For what I’ve learned about this competition, it’s seems like it will attract a lot of great climbers and I’ll have to compete against many seasoned, experienced competitors who have participated in many pro competitions. On the other hand, I haven’t done any pro competitions––yet!

The competition at SG Bellevue will be part of the United Bouldering Championships Pro Tour (or UBC Pro), and will take place from September 21- 22.   The UBC Pro Tour, according to their own website, is the official U.S. pro bouldering climbing tour and works in partnership with USA climbing (the big governing body for competitive rock climbing in the U.S). The event at SG will be the first ever UBC competition in not just Seattle but rather the whole Pacific Northwest!

I admit I accidentally posted wrong information concerning the competition last week- I said the competition only had qualifiers and finals. Turns out qualifiers are on September 21 and on September 22, both semifinals and finals will be held. This is good news because it means I have a much better chance of getting to do at least some climbing on Sunday . . . if I don’t qualify for finals, I’m hoping I can at least make it to semis.

Moreover, this competition is part of longstanding tradition for SG. For over sixteen years (information once again provided by UBC website) SG Seattle has held an annual competition called the Seattle Bouldering Challenge, or SBC for short. Since I’ve been thirteen, I’ve competed in SBC practically, if not every, year, and it has always been fun, regardless of how well I personally climb.  This  will be the first time any competitive event has been held at the brand new SG Bellevue.  This competition is technically called SBC Pro, to distinguish it from the more mainstream SBC. While SBC Pro will be aimed at advanced-elite rock climbers, the traditional SBC is an event that caters all ability levels, beginning-open, and even includes a special youth category for younger children. I assume that SG will still hold their more standard SBC (minus the “pro”), and that competition almost always takes place in November.  Another fun fact, the cash purse at this competition, $17,000, is the largest ever at a UBC event (even though the UBC tour includes nationals!) This makes me a bit nervous, as I know this enticing cash prize (to be divided among the top finishers) will attract some good climbers.

So, how will I prepare for this big event? I of course will train, but when I say train I really mean that I will simply climb a lot. I will likely do some climbing drills now and then, but for the most part I will try to just get in as much climbing as possible––that’s worked well in the past for me so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work now.  You can find a lot of books and information online about the best way to train, and what they suggest is often quite complicated, but when it comes down to it I think the best climbers simply put forth a lot of effort and truly devote a great amount of time to climbing.

The next, and perhaps most important component is my mindset. I plan to try to go into this competition with a good attitude and to stay as relaxed as possible. Being a little nervous is fine, as that can give you adrenaline, but being too nervous can cause even the strongest climber to seriously underperform. Another thing to consider is what I want get out of this competition. I read on Canadian Elise Sethna’s blog, who has recently won the Canadian nationals, that she has started competing better since she has worked on trying to compete against herself rather than comparing herself to other climbers. I think it would be a good idea to try that at SBC. At competitions I often spend too much time comparing how well I climb to how well other competitors climb. It’s easy to feel good about yourself when you get first ,but I find myself much more discouraged when I rank on the lower side even though I really did try hard. Focusing on just how you, as a climber, are performing puts things in perspective and can help a climber realize how much they are improving personally, even when they are up against a strong field of competitors. I think the best part of competitions for me is not the medals or ribbons I’ve gotten (although I won’t deny that feels good), but rather how much competitive climbing has helped me improve as a climber. I’m a much different, more strong, mature climber than I was back when I was 12, when I went to my very first climbing competition.

On a related note, the question I asked in my title is a rhetorical question.  Rock climbing could become an Olympic sport, but right now the probability of that happening is a very definite “maybe” rather than “probably.” If rock climbing did become an Olympic sport it would not debut until the Olympic 2020 games. That’s so far in the future that it’s hard to tell what climbers would stand the best chance of going to the Olympics (but I can bet it wouldn’t be me). Currently only sport climbing (climbing that requires rope and has fixed gear) is being considered for the Olympics but maybe one day bouldering will be considered too. If you want rock climbing to become an Olympic sport show your support and like the “Sport Climbing 2020” page on Facebook.

Last, if you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been talking about climbing outside lately, that would be because I haven’t climbed outside in a while.  However, I’m determined to achieve the very ambitious goal (sarcasm) of climbing at least one more time outside before school starts so I’ll let you know when that actually happens.





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