A small British team went to Moscow to compete in the second European Youth Cup round of the season. Team captain Luke Tilley and Molly Thompson-Smith made the podium and Flo Tilley made a huge improvement in her ranking.
The venue was an exhibition centre in a large hanger with a purpose built wall just for the competition. The qualifiers for youth B (Molly and Flo) were on Friday and the juniors (Luke) on Saturday with finals on Sunday.
The first qualifier for the Molly and Flo was on a steep vertical wall which tested the climber’s technical ability. Flo was first up for the Brits and got half way up the wall. Molly came out and put in an excellent climb and managed to top the route along with 6 other climbers and was therefore placed joint first with Flo in 12th.
The second route was again another challenging steep wall but with a large overhang. This really challenged the climbers. Molly again put in a fantastic climb and managed to top her route along with 2 others. Flo showed what an improved climber she is and was unfortunate to come off just below the half way point. Although she was disappointed it was a fantastic effort by her in what was only her 2nd EYC and she was up against some experienced climbers whom only just fared better than her so the future for her looks very promising.
Molly made the final, her 4th consecutive final of an EYC showing what a competent and consistent climber she has now become in only her 2nd year of the EYC. Flo finished 14th and has improved her overall ranking considerably.
With qualification over it was time for the girls to switch their attention to support Luke in his qualification on Saturday.
As with the youth B females, Luke was up against a full contingent of strong Russian climbers and he would have to be at his best if he was to repeat his previous success at Ratho.
Luke’s first climb was on the same wall that was used for Molly and Flo’s second qualification. As you would expect with the top end of the EYS age category it was a physical route - Luke was more than up to the challenge and put in a stunning climb which saw him top the route along with 3 other climbers.
Qualification 2 was on the steep vertical wall which previously saw only 1 youth A climber manage to top it, so it was obviously that it was going to test the climbers technical abilities.
Several climbers fell off a third of the way up the wall as the technical difficulty began to take its toll. Luke inspired by his 1st qualification effort put in an even better climb to top, although halfway up his foot slipped of a foothold but his strength and power enabled him to maintain his position and power on from that point. Luke’s climb on this route drew applause from both home supporters and neutrals as it was a fantastic effort on a very difficult route.
As the 2nd qualification drew to a close Luke was out on his own in first place having topped both routes which was the first time he had achieved such a feat in his whole EYC career.
A bit of sightseeing (and having been a victim of a pick pocketing episode) in Moscow to relax the climbers ahead of their finals, both Molly and Luke were psyched for Sunday’s finals.
An early start for isolation ensued for Molly as the youth B final was first up. Molly was drawn 9th out of the 10 climbers and had the long agonising wait before she could attempt her quest to get on the podium.
The final route was similar to the second qualifier in that it was a steep wall with an overhang, bad holds, volumes and some reachy moves. The first 7 climbers struggled to make an impression and we were now down to the last 3 climbers whom had topped the previous 2 routes.
The tall elegant Russian slapped the penultimate hold before succumbing but was comfortable in front and with it a guaranteed podium place.
Molly came out looking focused. A good start saw her overcome some difficult moves and a quarter of the way up she was looking relaxed and strong. The overhang was successfully completed as was the 2 volumes which had been the undoing of several of the finalists. Molly was 2 holds away from guaranteeing a podium and a massive cheer went up when this was achieved. Molly continue to power on and she looked set for a topping of the route but 3 holds from the end she failed to execute a long dynamic move and her climb was over.
The last climber came out and succumbed at the same point as Molly and there were celebrations amongst the neutrals and the small GB team as Molly had made the podium.
With one podium place in the bag it was now down to Luke to cap off a fantastic weekend for the GB team by getting in the medal positions. Luke had qualified in first place and had an even longer wait in isolation than Molly for his attempt. The strong Russians came out all guns blazing and put in some excellent climbs on a very difficult route.
As Luke came out to climb he would have to be at his best to make the top 3 and as he had done in Ratho, he showed just how good he is by putting in a fantastic climb to get that coveted podium position equalling Molly’s 3rd place. It could be argued that over the weekend in the junior category Luke was the strongest climber as his climb in the 2nd qualifier will live long in the memory and just showed what he is capable of.
The medal ceremonies followed and it was great to see GB on the podium so early into the season. Both Molly and Luke showed that they are top climbers and should on this form finish the season in the top 5 of their categories. They will after this round of the EYC be ranked in the top 3 and the challenge for them now is to continue their good form.
Full results can be seen by clicking here and more pictures from each day of the the competition can be seen by clicking here - day 1, day 2, day 3.
The Junior British Leading Team is supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear and NICAS.