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Thursday, November 03, 2011

is this a possible future to competitions?



Advance warning: video above is over an hour long - not for work!


Treat this post as an interlude until Naomi writes another post after last weekend's Dublin marathon in relation to climbing.



I know lots of people don't compete (I rarely do myself) and don't have an interest in the comps, but what would you like to see to make them more of an interest? The comps can also be  a great outlet for improving your own ability for 'real' rock - so long as you balance plastic-pulling with real-rock climbing (to keep the techniques required for pulling on rock topped up). There's nothing like some competition as a motivator at times :) Remember that our sport is potentially an olympic candidate for 2020/2024 so it's in our interests for it to get a good showing. Thoughts?



I ended up thinking about this after seeing that La Sportiva held a competition in Norway a couple of weeks ago. Essentially it was a sponsored-by-La-Sportiva-only competitors demonstration event but it brought together some of the big name climbers from across the world - you'll recognise names if you read any of the mags/blogs/etc.

Not only this but they also tried a new format of competition......
In the usual system at all events, you have a set amount of time to try a problem. So, try and onsight it, and if not try again until time runs out. Then move onto the next problem and repeat. I've always felt that one of the issues is that without prior practice, the problems just won't be as difficult, and also limits the possible maximum level. Think of it like gymnastics - they prepare for years for their routine so can completely maximise the difficulty of it. It would be like changing that format (in gymnastics) so that they were given a list of activities as they walked out in front of the crowd and told to do them perfectly. If they don't, they start again and try from beginning. They also only had 5 minutes to do it perfectly. It just wouldn't be possible for them to set the difficulty as high.

So La Sportiva ran this differently. The day before, they were given two hours to try all the problems and work them to death. Then the goal was to send as many of them as possible at the final event on the following day. It meant that the level of the problems was higher, something like Font 8a+-8b+ I believe instead of mid-to-high 7's at a normal World Cup event (correct me if I'm wrong on those grades)? Personally I thought it was great idea, especially as they removed the other rule that competitors couldn't know their position (at a World Cup event, the announcer isn't allowed discuss this at all leading to a slightly awkward presenter - considering all the competitors can be seen to be discussing how they did when in isolation, what's the point?).

Personally, I'd like to see more problems with less of a blob-squeezing focus. It's hard to appreciate how hard (especially when you see that the competitors are getting visibly frustrated also as it's too hot to pull on the slopers) they actually are whereas the video below from an old USA-based comp, it's easy to appreciate that footless maneuvers are hard!