Sean McColl - Interview

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interview - Around The World with Sean McColl


1. Your life has been non stop traveling for competitions, how has that effected your climbing style?
I love the time of year when I get to take off to Europe for the whole summer. I find that in Europe, my climbing training is even better than at home. The gyms are bigger and the route setting is more similar to the route setting at the World Cups. Also, when you’re training alongside other strong world cup climbers, your motivation never goes down. My climbing style has stayed mostly the same. During the fall and winter, I train only for bouldering because in Canada, we don’t have any roped competitions. Even when I first get to Europe, I almost train strictly bouldering until I have a Lead event in the following month. Since my main focus is bouldering, I try to train as much as I can for that. When that part of the season is almost over, I switch over to route training. I know that no move on a lead route is going to be too hard, so it’s just my endurance that needs training. I work on that and I can do very well in lead competitions as well.

2. What have you learned from international competition?
International competitions feel like they’re harder. When I’m competing in Canada, a lot of people expect me to win. When I’m competing Internationally, I’m rarely the favourite and it takes a lot of pressure off. On the other hand, I love competing over in Europe. Most of the competitions are organized and ran really smoothly. There’s always things that happen during a competition that are uncontrollable but they always do a good job to find a solution.

3. Do you like the traveling lifestyle?
I love the traveling lifestyle. It’s always an adventure not knowing what you’re going to have for dinner or even where you’re staying the next day. I’ve loved traveling since I was really small and I’ve gone to Europe every year since I was 14 with the exception of 2005 when world championships were in China. I plan on going back to Europe every year during the summer holidays. During the time, I’ll hopefully be able to attend 5-10 World Cups and other International Events.

4. What are your plans for 2010? Comps? Getting outside?
I’ve just started school at the beginning of September and my program will be pretty intense during the fall and winter. When my terms end, I’ll be going back to Europe and climbing for the whole summer. When I’m over in Europe, I train, climb outside and compete. It’s also just a trip in planning, but I wanted to head down to South Africa for a month during next summer.

5. What would you suggest for aspiring comp climbers to help improve their performance?
The best thing for aspiring comp climbers is to get in a really good routine. The hardest part about training is that not a lot of people like to do it alone. Pick a good core group of climbers that you’re going to train with and set up times that you’re going to meet. It’s basically what every Junior Climbing Team does at each respective climbing gym. I find it’s necessary to climb at least 3 days a week. While I’m in school, I’ll be going 2 days during the week for 3 hours and a training session on Sunday night for 4 hours. It’s also good to stay at training for at last 2.5 hours. Also, when you’re at training, it’s not the time to stand around and socialize with your friends. Sometimes when I’m at my gym, people think I’m kind of rude because I don’t stand around and talk. The bottom line is, I’m going to the climbing gym to train. I can still talk to people in between problems and during rest periods but when the time comes again, I’ll be getting back onto the wall. The best thing for climbers is to have consistency. You can’t train for 2 weeks and then take a week off, it doesn’t work that way. You have to be focused and determined. During the competition, you also can’t look at the rest of the field. In reality, it doesn’t matter if they climb 5.11 or 5.15, you just want to climb your best. If you fall off a route because you truly slipped or missed a hold, then that’s just a mistake. If you fall off a route because you were so pumped you couldn’t hold on, then you should be happy no matter what your final result is.

6. Do you have any pre comp rituals?
My comp rituals start about a day before the competition. Usually I’m driving or travelling to the competition the day before but I try to stay well hydrated and not eat anything too heavy. Also, for dinner the night before, I try to eat some pasta or a pizza. The thing I try to stay away from the night before a competition is a lot of red meat. I find it’s hard to digest and I feel heavy the next morning. The morning of the comp, I usually try to eat something, but sometimes I skip breakfast. It depends on when you’re going to be climbing. If you’re not climbing for a few hours once you get to the competition, breakfast is very important. Once I get to the competition, I eat whenever I feel hungry. Usually after I finish my round of competition, I’m starving and I eat something reasonably big.

7. What is the craziest thing you have seen in 2009 at competitions?
The craziest thing I say this year has got to be at the TAB competition. During the qualifiers, it’s a basic scramble format with a slight tweak in the rules. Instead of taking your top 5 or 6 problems, they take your top-all. There’s 47 boulder problems and each problem is worth 1000 points. The points get divided by the number of ascents. After that, they add all your problems up and rank you. The top 5 make it to finals. This year, to make finals, you either had to do 45 problems, or do problem 46 or 47 and most of the rest. At the competition, they had these big white features., They were made out of some sort of plexi glass and they were very slick. They had no texture so you couldn’t just grab them anywhere. To make them grab-able, they put on skateboard tape onto certain parts of the volume. It was awesome to see, and then to climb on. You knew exactly what part of the feature you were supposed to grab because it was the only part that had grip tape. That’s already a crazy idea and would win the craziest thing I saw this year, but for finals they stepped it up another notch. During the finals (which ran at night), they had hid lights in behind the volumes. They had all 4 volumes near the top of the wall so every could see them. During finals, they had the lights switching from red, blue, purple, yellow and purple at 10 second intervals. The volumes would light up and glow. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen at a climbing competition.

8. You have excelled in speed climbing, bouldering, and sport climbing. What is your preferred style and why?
I think I prefer bouldering the best but lead climbing is not far behind. I like the feeling of bouldering and trying to do the hardest move you ran do. I also don’t like working a anything too long because I know there’s so many other bouder problems out there. For 8 out of the 12 months of the year, I train bouldering. It’s only when I’m in Europe for the 4 months over the summer that I train some climbing. I prefer bouldering, but I love route climbing. I love knowing a route by heart and trying to Redpoint it. I also like the fact that I can do both pretty well. Sometimes, I get really sick of bouldering because the moves are too hard. When that happens, I switch to route climbing. On the contrary, sometimes I get really sick of lead climbing because I get too pumped and I want to be stronger. It’s really fun to be able to switch back and forth from one to the other.

9. Do you get nervous at competitions?
Definitely!! I still get nervous at every competition I go into. My coach Mike Doyle once told me and I quote ‘’If you aren’t nervous about the competition, it means you don’t care’’. I think about that every time I’m about to climb. If I’m not nevous enough, I try to make myself more nervous by thinking about who I’m competing against and thinking about how hard it will be to win. I think that being nervous is very healthy at a competition as long as you know how to control it. I get nervous at every competition im at, but as soon as I step on the climbing wall, it all disappears and it’s just me and my route. During a competition, I love the feeling of being nervous. It means I’m on my game and usually means I’ll climb well.

10. Who influences you the most in the competition circuit? Why?
I’m not sure if there’s a certain person that has influenced me the most during my competition season but I can definitely think of a few people that have helped me. During the last 3 years that I’ve been doing World Cups I’ve made a lot of friends in the circuit. I found that Kilian Fischhuber became one of my idols. At the same time, I had to compete against him at most of the bouldering competitions and a couple of times, I beat him. I find that during a competition, he climbs very smart. He knows he can do every problem and he’s confident. He can look at a problem and usually pick the best way to do it. That’s why I idolize him. He has also won probably more Bouldering World Cups than any other climber in the past 5 years. You can’t do that by just being strong, you have to be smart and patient as well. During the lead season there’s a handful of people that I was training with at the gym ‘’Tivoli’’ in Innsbruck. Training alongside all those climbers, I’m almost positive, made me a much better climber.

Comments:

Willy, Thursday, September 20, 2012

It depends on what you want to rarwed. If it is skill then make it a contest where they have to climb a difficult route (say Class 5.10a). You could make it an easy wall to start on so everyone gets up part way, but with increasing difficulty at the middle and very difficult moves at the top. Or you could make it fairly easy and everyone who gets to the top gets a playing card for each time they do it until they get 5 and then the best poker hand wins. You could also give a prize for the best style, fastest send (climb), youngest and oldest to get to the top. Hope that helps. JIM

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