Monday, June 27, 2011

UBC Big Show in NYC

The Eastern Mountain Sports Pro rocks Central Park from NE2C on Vimeo.

NE2C, with a “little” help from EMS and the New York City’s climbing community, has once again stepped up a notch with their 2nd event of the year EMS Pro.  It’s a bit tiring to say “this was the best comp ever” every time Jason Danforth and Pete Ward team up to organize yet another climbing event, but they did it again…

The Unified Bouldering Championships (UBC) have stepped it up with the 3-day climbing comp.  Qualifiers and semifinals in the Cliffs at  Valhalla, NY were already memorable events with a great crowd and music, reminiscent of great-energy annual competitions…  And yet, you couldn’t even call the first two days an appetizer ‘cause the EMS Pro finals in Central Park was the full meal with a chocolate brownie sundae, whipped cream, sprinkles and all.

1. Vasya Vorotnikov 1. Angie Payne
2. Ty Landman 2. Sasha DiGiulian
3. Mike Feinberg 3. Lizzy Asher
4. Rob D’Anastasio 4. Francesca Metcalf
5. Mauricio Huerta 5. Dana Riddle
6. Jon Glassberg 6. Tiffany Hensley

It’s been some sort of a zen weekend for me, and something I will never forget, thanks most to my family and friends who were there to support me through the whole thing.  I’ll try to explain what happened from my perspective…

It really started in December of last year: I got a finger injury a couple of days after the second of the Dark Horse Series 2010/11 (note to self: avoid cracks, especially when bouldering, especially indoors), after which I took a few weeks off but couldn’t stay away from competing for too long, and just had to deal with some knuckle pain for a while:

ABS Regionals, Phila Rock Gym 3rd place after Brian Kim and Rob D’Anastasio
Dark Horse Series Finale, Metrorock, Everett, MA 2nd place after Daniel Woods
Power Struggle 5, Prime Climb, Wallingford, CT 2nd place after Ty Landman (yeah, he didn’t quit climbing)
Feats of Strength 6, The Cliffs at Valhalla, NY 1st place ahead of Magnus Midtboe who climbed better than I’ve ever seen him climb
Heart of Steel 3, Boston Rock Gym, Woburn, MA 1st place ahead of Dave Wetmore and Josh Larson

After the Heart of Zteel in Boston, I started training for ropes, hoping to get back on some hard stuff down at the New. But 3 weeks later, my wrist started bothering me either because of overuse or grabbing awkward holds (yeah, apparently rope climbing can cause an injury too).  Then, time off.  After a full month without any sort of climbing, I went to the New River Rendezvous, where I got 2nd place after Greg Kerzhner.  With my wrist still bothering me, I took another week or two off.  Now, with just 3.5 weeks before the big comp I was already supposed to be training for, I got sick, lost 5 pounds, finally started feeling ok at the beginning of June.  With little hope remaining for me to climb really well in NYC, I started training just so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.  Making it to top 6, to Central Park, seemed like an unattainable goal, but would have been a dream come true.

With hard training and work, I started climbing “ok”, and appeared to start gaining momentum a week before qualifiers.  Not expecting much and knowing I’ll have to fight hard every day, I did just that.  After placing first in the qualifiers ahead of Matt Bosley by just one attempt, I got hope of making it to finals.  After another fight in the semis, I made it to finals, still in 1st, again by attempts.  Probably, every single thought came through my head since then…  and then came the finals.

The crowd.  Photo by Jesse Gagnon.

Nervous in front of thousands of people, after discussing how one looks like a punter if he doesn’t at least get close to the top of the problem, with tons of pressure from all of the guys cheered for before me, it was hard to keep my heart beat down to say the least.  Being sure of my beta on #1, I was just hoping the holds were good enough.  Try 1: fail, but close to the top, try 2: same, but now I’m more tired, thinking that was probably it.  The only reason I got back on the wall is because Jason Danforth decided that the crowd wanted to see me try it again.  I did not hear anything between me starting my third go and grabbing the finishing jug, but I remember trying to out-scream the crowd while I was holding on to it, which was well-depicted in the New York Times photo-report.

Me on problem #1.  Photo by Jesse Gagnon.

On #2, I felt extreme pressure from the guys right before me.  I now had to defend my #1 spot, and this was the time.  Once again, try 1: fail, poor foot placement, too fast, try 2: same story…  Came down, chalked up, the judge says “5 seconds” as I’m trying to get my heart beat down.  I probably had 1 second remaining when I started the climb on my final go, and honestly don’t know how I clambered up that thing because I was so disoriented trying to stem with whatever body parts…  Once again, though, I felt like screaming as loud as I could.

Struggling on #2.  Photo by Jesse Gagnon.

After #2, I was nowhere near relief as Rob D, Ty, and Mike Feinberg clearly decided to put all the pressure they could on me by getting that last problem.  Still a bit pumped from the 2nd problem, and intimidated by everything going on around me, I started #3.  Each and every move fit my style perfectly and I was able to get up there before I knew the problem was over.  Seeing the finishing jug in my hand, I was in shock for about 2 seconds, thinking to myself this did not just happen, and only then started screaming…

Jason Danforth interviewing Angie and I.  Photo by Jesse Gagnon.