An inch but a Mile

By Luke Tilley

An inch gained, a mile conquered, perseverance leads to triumph.

The European youth cups press on, two more rounds down and I am now ranked 4th.

The 3rd and 4th European Cups have been a close affair but not close enough. Both rounds I have climbed well on one route but had a nightmare on the second. This is highlighting a weakness in my competition mentality. Out first and then third at Voiron and Linz respectively for the first qualifier I have climbed without mistakes and in the Voiron round topped the route setting the highpoint early.

The second qualifiers both let me down, in Voiron I was climbing well through the entire sustained first half and then at about half height I climbed past the clip just bellow a boulder section to reach an easier groove above and a rest. Back tracking to clip and then fumbling my feet threw me off with two small positive holds in my hands. This was a huge error as in general people had at least been settled in the groove a few moves above before running out of steam. My joint first position from the first qualifier now meant little.

Now for the first time my attention was grabbed by the performance of another competitor as regards our relative scores. The French guy who climbed soon after me gained the same two holds and then blew off backwards, running out of steam. The judging of difficulty climbing is by no means straight forwards. I have quite a good grasp of the rules and criteria for judges, through 5 years of competing but probably more significantly because of my dad volunteering at most of the competitions nationally and internationally that are held in Britain.

So when I watched this climber blow off the route I noted that he should be scored the same as me (particularly because he was French and the judges were all French!). When I checked the scores on the doors, placed 11th behind this fellow who had been given the plus on the two holds and myself not given the points for both holds but just one, I for the first time felt compelled to complain a little. After much deliberation with Ian and confirmation from my team mates that I looked in control on the two holds. Ian was happy to lodge an appeal. Not a simple process, requiring video analysis of both climbers and a panel of judges with the casting vote decided by the head judge. This process also rests on a £50 fine for incorrect appeals! It transpired that I had been given the correct score apparently not resting in control on the two holds but the other competitor had been given extra credit than was due and was subsequently marked down leaving me a + away from the finals. However we at least correct in the appeal and could keep hold of our money. The team will support one (failed) appeal per competitor per year so I have retained my get into the final for free card but wish I was in the final!

The Linz results were equally as close but my climbing on the second route did not deserve a place in the final. I console myself by playing the anti-style card, a powerful and awkward route, up steep terrain, big pinches and overhanging corner climbing. However this is really no excuse at all but a well justified reason why I should not be I the final. A painful first clip did not start the route well and things didn’t get better. Me feet skidded all over the place on the blank corner wall and every time I could rest and recover, sort my head out and prepare for the next section another sketchy bit of climbing presumed. I was pleased to fight as hard as I did and can take away the fact that I had lots of practice of psychological control after almost falling off but my combined score once again was just off the mark to get into the finals.

Although it is gutting to be so close to the finals, especially as I invariably climb my best in the onsight format and really love climbing on them. I am never the less pleased with my climbing and position as my category is seriously good. Although small (around 25 competitors) the top 15 all climb at a very high level, many having climbed 8c and much harder.

It was great to see Jonny back on form crushing the second routes in both comps, was it not for missing a clip in Voiron (school boy, but everyone has a mare like this once or twice) He would have crused into the final as he went on to top the second qualifier. In Linz he waltzed up to the last couple of holds on the second route, an inspiring performance!

I accompanied him into isolation on the Saturday to help with his warm up pointing holds on the less than adequate warm up wall and to distract Ian’s ramblings in my direction so he could get in the right mind set. He put a good effort in on the super long route finishing in 8th place. The whole team that went out deserves respect with many like myself just out of the final and good climbing all around. I am inspired for the future of the team!

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