Victorian Lead Titles Reach New Highpoint
On May 14, Hardrock Nunawading hosted the 2016 Victorian Lead State Titles. This year’s state titles set a new bar for the quality of a state championships in Victoria on multiple fronts thanks to the organising ability of SCV and the generous support of the event sponsors: Maxim Ropes, Black Diamond, Butora, Camp and Bogong Equipment Store,.
Even though we call these events competitions – in reality they are more like having a massive climbing session in an electric atmosphere that pushes you to climb your best! The day was packed with more than 200 climbers, volunteers and spectators all coming together to celebrate our climbing community and cheer on the athletic achievements of our peers and friends.
Massive congratulations to all the competition winners but especially Campbell Harrison and Lucy Stirling for winning the Open A category. The 2016 Victorian lead champions are Campbell and Sarah McKenzie who placed third in Open A but was the highest ranked Victorian and so took home the title. Full results can be seen here.
Sport Climbing Victoria continues to build momentum for the sport
This year marks the first lead titles where the SCV took the reigns in organising the event. This means that entry fees were shared between the host facility and SCV. These funds go directly back into the climbing community to pay for the competition budget and continue to support future events.
The event went off without any major hiccups because an amazing group of volunteers worked tirelessly on it. Special recognition should be given to Ingemar Johansson, the jury president, and Romain Thevenot, head routesetter. There are options that comp organisers have to make their job easier but the easy option is never taken if it sacrifices the experience of our competitors here in Victoria. In Victoria we set one route per wall and work hard so that the finals competitors head into isolation with no prior knowledge of their finals route. It would be easier to set multiple routes on walls and to not bother covering up finals routes but we feel that this would not be such a special experience for the competitors so in Victoria we proudly do it the hard way!
Routesetters gaining experience
Routesetters have a tough job at comps. Routes need to be set so that everyone has fun but so they are hard enough that the best climber of the day emerges as the winner. At state titles this can mean that the difficulty from the bottom of the climb to the top can change as much 6 or 7 grades.
There can be some tough last minute choices for routesetters to try and avoid ties. The Junior men’s finals category was a disappointment for the setting team as all three routes were topped by Campbell Harrison and Alistair Early – even though the route is fun and high quality when the route doesn’t perform its intended job, routesetters feel the urge to lift their game.
Romain stepped up to the challenge and made last minute adjustments to the Open A finals route where Campbell and Alistair would be battling it out again. After days and nights of setting and climbing and with no skin left on his fingers he had to make the final call on the difficulty of the route. Make a move too hard and both climbers might fall on a particular move, but not making it hard enough might result in the same outcome as the Junior men’s route. Those of you who were at the event know – the outcome was perfect. Not only were the climbers split, Campbell performed brilliantly and gave the crowd a top to cheer – a perfect finish to the evening.
A huge thank you to all the route setters at the event: Romain Thevenot, Will Hammersla, Dick Lodge, Sam Junker, Julian Goad, Matt Hoschke, Philip Goebel and of course our out of state guest setter: Jane Engler. All told about 50 hours of routesetting were put in to pull off the event.
Victorian Climbers are getting stronger
We’ve also noticed that the ability of climbers in Victoria is getting better. Not only are the routes that the setting team have to set getting more difficult overall, but a number of individuals are making huge progress. Open A men’s finalists Fabian Schulke and Trent Barnes perfectly demonstrated this with their performances. At their first comp at Hardrock in 2012 they were Open B competitors that did very well both making finals. The Open B category exists to introduce climbers to competitions and use as a stepping stone to compete in Open A and they both dutifully moved up to the Open A category as they gained experience. At subsequent comps Fabian and Trent struggled with this transition. It would have been easy for them to drop back to Open B and relish the glory of being veteran Open B competitors but instead they persisted and trained harder. Their climbing performances this year were hugely inspirational and should motivate all of the Victorian climbing community. This is the long term legacy of climbing comps – they make our climbing community stronger and push us to become better climbers.
The short term legacy of these events are of course the routes at Hardrock Nunawading. If you missed out in participating in the comp and you find yourself saying to yourself “it’s great to have all these new routes,” please consider supporting the next comp by signing up as a competitor or volunteer – the whole climbing community benefits.
Oceania & National Lead and Speed Championships
On June 17-19, the Villawood Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym will be hosting the next level in competition climbing in this country. This year the national championships will be combined with our continental championships which means Sydney will be hosting the best climbers from New Zealand and New Caledonia as well. If you enjoyed the Victorian state titles you should definitely be making the journey up to Sydney for this event – go here for more information.