I have just returned from Canadian Youth Nationals that took place in Montreal, Quebec. My youth season was pretty minimal this year as I was mostly focusing on open bouldering. I did a few youth roped competitions and then competed at Eastern Youth Regionals, allowing me to qualify for my fourth Youth Nationals. I decided that I wouldn't be applying for the National team in March, so my plan was to go to Nationals and have fun. I trained routes a little in advance but I didn't pressure myself with expectations. I was really happy to be seeing my friends from across Canada and to get back on such a nice wall.
We arrived in Montreal Friday night after a long car drive. The first two qualifying rounds were on Saturday, the semi-final Sunday and then the final Monday. On Saturday I was first in the running order for the first qualifier. The route looked balance-y and hard and a little out of my comfort zone. I had also never climbed first on a qualifying route before. My nerves were more intense and prominent than usual and I was a little shaky at the bottom of the route. I ended up topping the route which put my mind at ease. The next qualifier was much more suited to my style, on the large overhang with big moves. My bad nerves had subsided and I was super excited to try the route. Just as I expected, the route was fun and fit my style well and I topped more easily than the first. In isolation on Sunday I felt good and ready to go. The semi was another technical, balance-y route with bad slopers, tiny crimps and no rests. Unfortunately I got really pumped about two thirds of the way up and fell making a move that should have been more controlled. Regardless, I was moving on to finals the next day.
Monday morning I sat up in bed and immediately tweaked something in my back. Soon, my left arm started going a little numb. The rest of the morning was spent massaging and stretching and trying to make the pain go away (thank goodness for my awesome team of parents and siblings and friends who helped). If worse came to worse, I would sit finals out. I started warming up about 15 minutes before I was supposed to climb. The adrenaline started kicking in and minutes before I went out to climb my arm was feeling fine and I had almost no pain in my back. The final route looked AMAZING. I was so excited to try it. It was on the big overhang and had big moves on small holds up to the roof where there were a couple of big volumes. After the volumes were some powerful moves up a long, steep face to the chains. I got on and into my rhythm, and ended up falling on a big move on the last face. The route was pure fun and I climbed to the best of my abilities. I am so happy to have had the chance to climb that route. Climbing the highest earned me my first National title...!
In the four times I've competed at Youth Nationals, I've never felt less prepared than I did going into this one. Every other year I have felt capable of climbing my best and winning. Whether it's been sickness, injury, or misreading the route that has held me back in the past, I've tried to press on with the desire to win. Monday I learned that that desire doesn't even matter. No matter how much pain I'm in or how badly I screw up the sequence, there is nothing that gives me the will to continue and succeed more than the desire to experience the next hold, the next move, the next climb. In retrospect, even if my determination to win had lead to a gold medal in the past, I wouldn't have been any happier winning than coming in second or third or last. My true disappointment comes when I forget why I'm there - to climb.
Thank you to all the amazing people who worked at organizing yet another extremely successful event. The people I got to climb with this weekend are inspiring, motivating and so much fun. Congratulations to everyone else who competed this weekend (especially my little sister Estella who won silver in speed and bronze in difficulty!). I will be posting photos and videos soon. Good luck to all my friends going to Singapore to represent Canada at Youth Worlds :) Next up, the World Cup in Vail... Wahooo!!!
and press on... for the fun of it.