Plastic fantastic

Posted by Graeme Alderson on 03/05/2007
Naomi Buys competing at Climb 07. Photo: Messenger.

Graeme Alderson reports on Climb ‘07 and the British Team successes since.

It was March, it was sunny and the cleaners were mopping up after Crufts. Yes - it was time for the annual climbing-fest known as Climb’07 at the Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show.

This was the sixth time the BMC had hosted an event at the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Show. This year we’d been asked by the IFSC (the international governing body for competitions) to help them out by hosting a leg of the European Bouldering Championships, following a sudden cancellation. So the pressure was on to deliver a world-class event.

But the Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show is about much more than just the bouldering competition (although of course from my perspective, as competition organiser, the comp is the Show). There’s lots of lectures, kit testing, fashion parades, even the odd shop selling the latest kit and the odd bargain. And for the kids there are a host of “Have-A-Go” activities - climbing, biking, paddling, and even diving.

The competitors must have approached the event with trepidation, as British competitions tend to be the only events to feature full-on mantles and savage jamming cracks. Just what would the twisted minds of route-setters Percy Bishton, Ian Vickers, Andy Long, Jamie Cassidy and Jason Pickles come up with this year? This time aided and abetted by Gallic cousin and legendary Bleausard Jacky Godoffe.

So how did us Brits fair against the strong teams from the likes of France, Russia, Italy and the Ukraine? Well, the short answer is not as good as previous years. The longer answer is that these days there are probably 30+ men and 20+ women all with a realistic chance of qualifying for the finals. There is a real depth of strength in competitors, so the slightest error can mean the difference between qualification and abject failure.

Dave Barrans was the only Brit to qualify for the semi-final, ending up in 13th place overall – his best result yet. And to get there he beat some serious “waddage” including such regular finalists such as Killian Fischhuber (AUT), Tomasz Oleksy (POL) and Jorg Verhoeven (NED).

In the end both the men’s and the women’s competitions went right down to the wire. France’s Juliette Danion had to top out on the very last problem to win, she duly obliged by flashing it. Likewise Austrian uberkid David Lama had to do his last problem to win - he had been awesome all competition including pulling off an amazing pirouetting dyno in the qualifier. After four attempts it was looking as if he might have to settle for second, but he pulled up his bootstraps and dispatched it fifth go to become the new European Champion. The trophy should look quite good next to his European Leading Trophy, not bad for someone who’s still only 16.
Since Birmingham, the Bouldering World Cups have been coming thick and fast and we’ve been getting some excellent results. Dave Barrans and Mark Croxall have regularly been getting into the semi-finals, Gaz Parry a semi and a final, and Andy Earl won a round in Reunion Island.

Elsewhere the Junior Team had a very successful training trip to Orpierre that was combined with entering the Marseille Youth Open Cup. Kitty Wallace in her first ever international finished an amazing second, Nat Berry qualified for her final and Shauna Coxsey was into her superfinal when unfortunately they had to leave due to the competition overrunning.

Looking ahead, the Junior Team is heading en-masse to the European Youth events in Poland and Germany in July where we are hopeful of podium places. The Seniors are starting their build up to the World Championships in Aviles in Spain in September.

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