British Bouldering Championships 2011
The BBCs 2010 took place in the middle of a leafy Sheffield park during a sunny day June 2010. The boulder wall was shaded by a circus tent and the spectators sat on their picnic rugs and cooked on barbeques. Six months later the BBCs 2011 were being hosted by the Outdoor Show at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands on a cold and wet January weekend. The Bouldering wall was dwarfed by the huge exhibition space.
The Juniors had been scheduled for the Sunday but we were lucking to arrive in time to see the Senior finals on the Saturday evening turning up to hear that Natalie Berry had made it through. Unfortunately our representatives in the senior male event hadn’t been able to garner the 94 points required to qualify for that final. Calum Forsyth, still not 100% with continuing growth plate problems, achieved a credible 20 points for 46th place, while Robbie Phillips with 60 points was 18th out of a pool of 55. Given that many of the competitors train only on boulders these two predominantly lead climbers could be proud of their achievements.
Natalie, again know for her leading over her bouldering, climbed well among a posse of GB Boulder team members, topping her final problem to secure herself 4th place, but the star of the evening was Shauna Coxsey who made all of the problems with ease demonstrating why she chose to move over from the GB Junior Climbing team to the GB Senior Bouldering team last year.
Sunday dawned wet and foggy. Boys were first and the 40 competitors swarmed the stage to complete the 10 problems in the 2 hours allotted. Tactics varied with some sending the four easiest problems in their first 10 minutes. Other walked around sussing each problem and deciding in which order they should be attempted. Leave a hard problem to the end and you may be too tired. Use up your energy on 3 hard attempts without success and you may not top an easier problem first go and loose points. Friends went round and discussed moves, watched successful tops in the hope that they could replicate the moves and studied falls in the hope of avoiding the same dangers. For spectators there was the occasional hiatus as competitors gathered their remaining strength before the next problem, but it soon became clear which were the tricky problems and cheers would go up when the first top was made. It was impossible to tell who had made the finals until the top 8 were announced. Unfortunately Edinburgher Fraser McIlwraith (14) who had topped 8 with one problem left fell heavily off his first attempt fracturing and dislocating his arm and ending his first championship endeavour. Despite this he finished 9th. Fellow Scot Angus Davidson (12) finished with 70pts (16th) and Jamie Drummond (15) scored 64 pts (25th). As the first foray for each of them they all vowed to return next year.
Rachel Carr (14) was the only Scottish girl to take part and having achieved 12th place last year had her sights set on the final. With Seniors Natalie Berry and Robbie Phillips providing advice and support she topped 6 problems with relative ease before coming a cropper on a nigh impossible pink dyno that only one competitor (Ellie Rymer) topped. Further problems on volume holds saw her finish with 60 points and an agonising wait for the announcement of the finalists. Unlike the closely grouped boys where finals qualification scores ranged from 84 to 90 the girl finalists qualified with a points range 48 to 81.
Whereas the Senior finalists had all come out at once and climbed one at a time, the Junior boys and girls were brought out in reverse order and climbed a problem then rested. With 5 minutes to attempt each problem things ticked over at speed and towards the top of the pack every problem was full. Topping first go meant you had the remaining minutes plus your 5 minute rest period to sit facing the spectators – a nerve wracking prospect which all the youngsters took in their stride. The girls’ first problem posed a problem to a few of the climbers but most topped first go. The second was a reach to a small hold that had even the top qualifiers struggling. From the audience viewpoint dynos are always exciting and the 3rd problem with its two handed grab then tricky balance flummoxed all until Rachel stuck it first go. The final problem saw the first 6 girls fail to reach the bonus hold then Molly Thompson Smith showed that it was possible but unfortunately couldn’t take it all the way to the end. Tara Hayes the first qualifier held her nerve through to the end with a polished final climb to take the title with 4 tops. Rachel with 3 tops finished second with Molly in third with two tops. As these three also form part of the Youth B GB climbing squad they will no doubt continue to share podiums throughout the year.