For the Boulders Climbing Academy the year revolves around one event. For hundreds of young climbers up and down the country, months of hard work are all targeted to The Youth Climbing Series Final. This event has been running for some time now but continues to grow each year. Starting as a ‘regional competition’ where climbers attempt 3 routes of ascending difficulty and 3 boulder problems, the climbers are scored on how high they get on each. Once all the routes and blocs are attempted each climber will have an overall total, obviously the more points the better.
This year started some time ago with 2 regional rounds, 1 at Rock UK in late January, and the other at Dynamic Rock in early March. The Youngsters had been training hard since the start of this seasons Academy and it showed almost straight away with so many taking podium places and as a result being invited to the Welsh Final.
The Welsh Final sees the top 4 climbers from each age category from North Wales and the top 4 from each category from South Wales battle it out for a place in the UK final. This year the good news for our Academy was that Boulders was to host the Welsh final. It was an incredible day with climbers from all over Wales battling it out to take home the trophies, and the all important golden ticket to the UK Final in June at the amazing Ratho!
Fast forward a couple of months and for 18 climbers from our Academy (the most to ever qualify from our ranks) it was time to board the plane. Months of training are great preparation but performing in large events requires so much more than just physical prowess. As such Boulders flew the 18 young climbers to Ratho some weeks prior to the final as a preparation day. The aim was to help many of these climbers become more familiar with their surroundings and to have fun and play on the wonderful walls that have been used for European championships and World cups. Ratho is one of the world’s largest climbing arenas and can be an intimidating environment for first timers so hopefully this would ease the pressure on our finalists. Without doubt this made a huge difference to our performance at the Final. Even simple things, for example having an agreed meeting point or knowing were the toilets are can make a huge impact and reduce stress on a potentially stressful day.
With 18 climbers spread across all categories, amongst the hundreds of finalists, it was hard to keep an eye on everyone, but it soon became apparent that the Boulders Academy climbers were performing very well! Myself and Kim (one of our assistant coaches) were at the final to help with any issues the climbers had from lost ‘rock shoes’ to helping with route reading and other tactical issues.
Their were so many great moment during the course of the day, one that stands out was Felix Peterken battling his way up a 7b on one of the awe inspiring walls to a massive cheer from the onlookers. Watching some of the youngest climbers taking on some incredibly hard looking bouldering problems, whilst many of our older academy members found themselves dangling from the massive lactic inducing roof gave myself and the rest of the Boulders Coaches great pride and as such the Academy results certainly reflect all of their hard work.
The standard improves year after year, with this being no different. With out going into detail of how every climber did over the whole day it was once again Emily Philips that stole the show with a stunning display of courage and determination to retain her champion status. This required a serious amount of hard work as not only was the standard from her competitors high, but also she had moved into a lead climbing category. Congratulations must also go to Oscar Phillps and Gwen Morgan who both achieved 3rd in their respective categories, and showed great skill and courage tackling the huge walls.
Emily found great difficulty reaching her potential whilst on lead earlier in the year, something quite normal for anyone new to Lead Climbing. But along side the coaching team, Emily and her parents have put in the hard graft and it showed! Not only did she perform fantastically well but was also required to climb in a super final. This took place in front of a huge crowd with hundreds of supporters cheering each of the super finalists on. The pressure after 12 hours of competition must have been huge however Emily handled it brilliantly and still managed to perform, on lead, in a high stress environment!
Well done to all of the Boulders Academy Team who took part, so many of you stepped up your game and proved to yourselves that you can achieve all you want if you are willing to put the time in. Onwards and upwards, its back to training as we see if we can improve on this year fantastic results!
To check out how well all our Academy members did please see the BMC website for full results.