Sunday, March 4, 2012

The SLO-Op Comp Review

For the past few years, I have been competing in the USA Climbing Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS).  CCS is a unique way for dedicated student/climbers to compete in a three-month-long series where schools send teams to throw down for the regional and national championships.  This is my third year with CCS and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  My first year competing in this series (and first time competing ever), I was able to place 2nd in the California Regionals and 3rd in Nationals.  My second year, I took training seriously and did not lose a competition in CA, securing my 1st place finish in the California Regionals comp.  Nationals was in San Diego, CA and I found out the day of the comp that there was rope climbing as well as bouldering in this round.  News to me.  I hadn’t been on a rope in a year and my endurance was almost non-existent.  However, after I had completed the boulders I needed to finish, I was able to fight my way up some routes.  I don’t think I have ever tried so hard in a competition.  It was so great having my family and friends supporting me in San Diego; I don’t think I could have done it without them.  I ended up placing 2nd to the Five Ten and Asana Athlete, Dan Beall.  It was a really great experience getting to compete with such a high caliber of athlete as well as my hometown friends.   
Eric Wolff getting the crowd psyched for Finals.
This is why I think so highly of CCS.  I do not compete in CCS to please my sponsors or to win titles.  I compete in this series because it gives me the opportunity to climb with some of my closest friends from all over the state and country.  We stay at each other’s houses, we cook for each other, we watch climbing movies, we share stories, we drink good beer and climb on hard boulders.  Everyone has a great time and each competition is a unique chance for all of us to grow as climbers and as friends.  This past weekend, I competed in the San Luis Obispo, CA comp held by SLO-Op Climbing.  I knew going into this comp that there were some expectations of how I should do, especially because this is my current home gym.  All the setters are good friends of mine and the crowd was going to be filled with all people I see every week.  I probably built it up in my head more than I should have, but I definitely felt some pressure to perform well.  
Alex Biale barely missing the finish jug on Men's #2

Alex Biale flashing Men's #1
The day of the comp was great.  Throughout the redpoint comp I got to climb alongside some of my favorite people.  We all encouraged each other and had fun with it.  After the initial redpoint comp, the top five men and top five women moved onto the Finals round.  I was fortunate enough to place for finals alongside Ben Parkin, Adam Monkaba, Alex Borst, and Austin Lim.  This was my first time competing in a comp with a Finals round so my excitement was through the roof!  I think we were all pretty happy to be there.  It was almost as if we weren’t competing against one another.  In the isolation room where they kept the finalists, we all shared laughs and cheers as each competitor got called out to climb.  As for how Finals went, I could not be happier with the results.  I don’t mean who placed what.  I’m referring to the fact that after stepping off the podium, I found peace in knowing that I left everything I had on the table.  I climbed as hard as I could and did my best. The crowd was awesome, the DJ killed it, and the problems were all quality.  There is definitely a new standard for the following CCS Competitions...  I ended up placing 2nd overall and 1st in the CCS comp.  Ben brought the power and took home 1st while the local climber Adam Monkaba finessed his way onto the podium in 3rd place.  All the competitors did a great job and I can’t wait for the next comp.  

Figure out what motivates you.  Really put some time into this.  Once you figure it out, pour yourself into it.  A good friend of mine once told me, "There are seasons in life for everything we do.  Our job is to decide which season we're in.  And then go all in."  This message really had an impact on me.  For the first time in my life, my eyes are open.  I know what season I'm in and I'm going for it.  My Dad always tells me that the only thing we have control over in life is our decisions.  So why not make the few big decisions count?

All photos courtesy of Itai Axelrad

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