Earlier in July, USA Climbing held the 2017 Sport & Speed Youth Nationals and Planet Granite team kids were there to represent!

There are 10 categories in USA Climbing’s competitions and almost 50 kids in each category climbing to get from the qualifiers to semi-finals. From there, the top 20 in each category will climb for a spot in finals! Kids from  all over  the country come to compete, some on teams, some not. You’d probably recognize some of the names of the competitors – they are already big names in climbing like Ashima Shiraishi or Kai Lightner. 6 kids from PG’s climbing team or community competed during this comp and they all did  a great job! 3 of the climbers landed in the top 10 of finals!

Justin Cubbage, Planet Granite SV Head Coach was in attendance to help make sure the climbers were prepared and ready to compete. Most of the kids were from SV’s team but we also had a few climbers from PDX!

Nationals is a lot different than bouldering nationals. Each day you climb 1 route. 2 of those days are Qualifiers. It’s a flash format so you can watch other competitors climb – there is no isolation. They even have a rabbit to show you how to climb it [I asked what a rabbit was. Think Alice in Wonderland where you follow the white rabbit – it is a climber who shows how the route is done].

That’s nice, right? No one is at a disadvantage by not being able  to read the route.  Well…

You know what the route is but you also know where your competitors are at too. It is a mental struggle. If you watch a lot of people climb before you do, it is really draining. It is great when you can take a  step back and only watch  a few instead of watching everyone. Ideally, you would be able to watch someone who  is better than you, worse than you, and who has the same body type (height, strength, etc.) so you can see where the struggles and issues may be without putting too much of a strain on yourself.

The Semis and Finals  are a bit different – they are onsight days. You get a 3 minute preview then you go into isolation. You don’t get to watch a person climbing it but generally the competitors will sequence the climb with another climber. These comp days are more  similar to the bouldering Nationals than the qualifying rounds were.

A big difference is that you have a time slot in bouldering (4 minutes per climber) but in sport, you just go until someone falls. Once the person falls, the next climber is up so you have no idea how long you have to warm up. At one of the climbs in semis, they were already to the 6th climber after only 20 minutes so the team had to really warm up fast to make sure they were ready. Luckily, things slowed down after those first few climbers and  so the team had to cool back down a bit so they didn’t get overly warm.

Another aspect of the Youth Nationals was Speed Climbing.

Speed has gotten so much more fierce. One of the kids climbed 15m in 6.37  seconds. The world record is 5-something. It is pretty crazy.

Overall our team did awesome. Browse the results and you will almost definitely recognize some of the names. Congrats to all the team kids and PG community climbers that competed including Calvin, Gwynnie, Connor, Ross, Tim, Kara, Anthony, Ava, and Serena! You are all awesome!

One last interesting thing this year; Tim Kang had a learning experience  during qualifiers. One of his climbs was flagged and he was slightly penalized for a foot-assisted clip. Turns out, you can’t use your foot to help you while clipping.  You can kick the draws, but you can’t pull them in using your feet. This was not something Tim was aware of (and by the sounds of it, not a super common occurrence since many people didn’t know about it) but luckily it didn’t affect Tim’s ranking and he still made 8th overall in the Male Junior category. They also will be using his climb to help educate other climbers about the rules which is great!

Photos courtesy of the ever amazing Andrea Laue! Check out her website or Instagram for more pics!