Those who attended yesterday’s Summer Sweat Fest Finale bouldering competition saw some of the most remarkable climbing in recent memory. Here’s a bit of a look at what went on yesterday.
First off, we took some risks with yesterday’s event. We used unusual formats in two rounds:
Qualifiers: The usual friendly scramble format was modified by making every one of the 25 problem count toward a competitor’s final score, and by not predetermining the value of each problem. Instead a problem’s value was based on how many people sent it. Thanks to Coyote Rock Gym in Ottawa for sharing their experiences with this format with us, to help us prepare. We kept the number of problems low to keep things reasonable, since everyone was trying as many of the problems as they could, rather than just working to get their best 6 as is usually the case. I’ve heard from several competitors that they really enjoyed the format, and the results show that it worked, both in terms of separating the field, and in getting the right climbers into the final round.
Open Finals: We used a progressive elimination format that I had seen at The Battle in The Bubble comp in Boulder, Colorado a few years ago. 8 men and 4 woman started on problem 1. (The number who qualified for finals was based on the usual CEC quotas based on the number of competitors in each category). 6 men and 4 women advanced to problem 2. 4 men and 3 women moved on to problem 3, and problem 4 was a head-to-head showdown between the last 2 climbers in each category. This format put added pressure on the competitors to stay alive at each stage. It also put added pressure on the routesetters, to ensure that every problem created the needed separation between competitors (they nailed it!).
The Mixed Youth final round featured boys and girls 13 and under climbing against each other. Zach Richardson emerged as the winner, but all 6 finalists showed toughness, perseverance and maturity beyond their years in the spotlight.
The Open Men and Women put on a spectacular show. The elimination format was exciting. On the Men’s side, Matt Moreau and Eric Sethna made it to the final problem showdown. The format switched to alternating attempts for the last problem, so Matt and Eric took turns trying to solve the last problem. The first to send would win the comp, with Eric holding the leader’s advantage of being able to win by matching Matt on a final attempt. Neither of them were able to send the problem after the maximum of 10 attempts each, but they showed great resilience in continuing to give it their best when they were clearly both exhausted. Eric won by making more progress than Matt.
The Women’s showdown was even more exciting. Alex Kuusela surprised many by making it to the final problem against Iyma Lamarche, and then she showed she deserved to be there by giving Iyma a run for her money on the final problem. Through attempt after attempt, the women battled a tough problem, but both continued to make progress despite how much it was taking out of them (or off of them; see the photos of Alex’s worn-off fingertips posted on Facebook!). Iyma got tantalizingly close to topping out a few times, and took the comp title by getting to the final hold, a bit further than Alex managed. The crowd was amazed by how tough these competitors were, and how much they continued to battle after being pushed so hard.
Thanks go out to:
- The routesetting team who completely nailed both the Qualifiers and the Final round problems. Shaun Hunter, Andreas Lerch, Max Lefevre and Jonny Briggs showed the local climbing community what they’re capable of, and it was impressive. Max and Andreas, along with Paul Cooper and Lina Nikolova also worked overnight last night to restore the gym to decent shape for today (most qualifiers back up, and some roped routes restored on the north side)
- Clint Searle (our Head Judge) and Gerald Situ (general assistance all week long)
- The volunteers who came in to judge and act as Isolation Monitors or Timekeepers: Arad, Olivia, Barak, Madeleine, Paulette, Sandi, Aaron, Kate, Nathan, Sebastien, Chloe, Esti.
- The entire True North team for keeping everything else running while the comp prep and event went on!
- Tim Vince and Jeff Whatham of the Ontario Climbing Federation for giving a judging clinic Friday night. One of the OCF’s areas of focus this season is training, to improve comps in a variety of ways, including increasing the pool of qualified judges.
- James Richardson, the owner of Climber’s Rock in Burlington, for establishing and leading the Summer Sweat Fest competition series over the past 4 years.
- Our sponsors!
- Rock Candy Holds and Friction Climbing both sponsored problems in the final round.
- Flashed provided prizes for the raffle. We are also very happy with the Flashed Stinger mats we bought for the comp; the thin memory foam pads – not drag mats with edges – helped soften the landing for boulder problems on the blue mats.
- Grand Prix Kartways donated prizes for the raffle
- La Sportiva and Mountain Equipment Co-op were sponsors of the entire Summer sweat Fest series.
- True North’s year-round Supporting Partners, whose contributions allow us to present events like yesterday’s: TD Canada Trust, Jones brown Insurance, Shibley Righton LLP and Eldorado Climbing Walls.
I will admit to being quite anxious on Friday night, as we worked hard to be ready for Saturday. While I had full confidence that the routesetting team had things well in hand, I wondered if we had pushed our luck by experimenting with different formats, and if overall we were trying to do too much with the comp, in the context of a week that was very busy in other ways. Somehow it all worked out, and I think it was one of the best comps we have hosted in the 2 1/2 years we have been operation.
Now we look ahead to the next major events: the Reel Rock Film Tour November 24th, and then our first turn hosting Tour de Bloc Eastern Regionals, on March 23rd