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A competitor's perspective: BMC Youth Open December 2013


Junior Coach and finalist Grace Spence-Green gives her perspective of the Comp Squad's BMC Open Youth Event results.

On the weekend of the 7th-8th of December, the Castle Squad travelled to Sheffield to compete in the awesome BMC Youth Open Event for both bouldering and leading. It was also the qualifier for the Junior British climbing team. Based on their performances, Cameron made the GB Climbing Team, Eugenie the GB Bouldering Team and Jim made both teams, which was absolutely fantastic news for the Squad.

Big Dynos and Big Effort

We started bouldering on Saturday at the Climbing Works. It was a scramble format (where there is a judge at each problem and competitors have, in this case, two hours to attempt the eight problems a maximum of three times). This meant that we had to prioritise and plan the order of our climbs.. The training we had done with Jon Partridge (member of the GB Bouldering Team with a world ranking of 40th) on flashing blocs really came to life then. Due to the enormous range of holds available at the Castle, we were familiar with the shapes and able to recognise and accurately imagine what the holds would feel like. The qualifiers involved awkward mantles, powerful campus moves, a balancey technical bloc and a LOT of slopers.

Yasmin, Eugenie, Jim and Sam aced qualifiers for their categories and easily made the finals. I managed to qualify in first place - the only downside being I didn’t get to see anyone else from the Castle Squad climb! It was quite nerve-wracking being in isolation but it was great to see familiar faces, and I was very impressed by the tenacity shown by squad members in how they performed in the finals and interacted with other competitors. The finals had three blocs each with a 4+ minute window to attempt, so I realised how time aware you had to be during your slot. It was a better idea to rest and go for your final attempt if there 40 seconds to go rather than to try again and again.

The problems were awesome, and I would have loved to have another go at them at a different time. There was a funky yellow with a dyno to a volume, a completely opposite style blue, which involved extremely careful foot placement, and a dynamic green with barely any feet.

Jim and I came second in our categories, which made us even more psyched for the lead event the next day. I was also stoked to have the experience of a bouldering final and grateful for the Squad for cheering us on.

The importance of good technique and relaxing

We had an early start on Sunday, our skin was still stinging and the muscles were aching from the day before, but after a delicious breakfast and lots of tea, we were ready to climb again. The leading comp was at The Foundry, with two qualifying routes by Steve McClure. The Squad had tried the Castle round of the Leading Ladder which McClure had set, so it was great to already be aware of his style of climbing. Not surprisingly, the routes were technical and exciting, so we spent a lot of time on the ground reading the routes.

Before my turn on the routes I focused on what Mina Leslie-Wujastyk (member of the GB Bouldering team and a phenomenal outdoor climber) discussed about self-efficacy at the Women’s Climbing Symposium last November. For me this involved having a routine before my climb: taking lots of deep breaths, relaxing myself, listening to the psych playlist which Zoe had made especially for the comp, and eating Cameron’s renowned brownies. When I was on the wall I found that I was a lot more relaxed than I had been at other competitions.

Zoe came ninth in the tough Youth A, missing the finals by only 3 places. Jim, Cameron, Jo and Stan strolled into the finals, with Cameron qualifying in 1st and Jo in 2nd. Stan (pictured below right) and Jo came 6th, Cameron 2nd and Jim (pictured below left) 5th in their categories, which was a great end to a fabulous competition.

I was so impressed not only by the extreme effort shown by everyone in the Squad, but the camaraderie of the whole team. Everyone noticed how we really support each other, even when we’re not climbing. It’s great to see the strong bond and close friendship we have as a team. We’ll continue to keep training hard and can’t wait for the three rounds of the British Youth Climbing Series next year and the next two BlokFest rounds! PSYCH!

Editor's note: You can see a video of the final on BMCTV.

Photos courtesy of Nick Pope.