Eastern Youth Bouldering Regionals took place this past weekend at Délire Escalade in Quebec City. The two-day competition featured a qualifying, semi-finals, and finals round for each of the four youth categories competing.
Regionals is a competition that takes place a few weeks before Nationals. The athletes competing at Regionals are some of those that will be expected to compete at Nationals, especially among the top competitors.
For the Junior categories, this competition represents an opportunity to establish themselves in the Canadian Competition Circuit.
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The Junior girls brought with them a strong performance. A top the podium stood Sophie Valence, Ève Laprise and Babette Roy, three strong Quebecois competitors. Third place finisher Sophie Valence climbed well in Finals, but missed out on second position by a top.
Between the top two women, the competition was tight. Laprise climbed hard, completing two boulders and two zones, missing first by a zone and a number of attempts.
Roy stood a top the podium, winning by a zone. The Quebec climber was happy with her performance especially after a history with injury. She said, “Coming in first gave me confidence that I can still be on top and come back even stronger than I was before getting injured.”
The come-back-crusher enjoyed the competition, saying, “Overall, it was a great comp.” She enjoyed the setting, but found isolation to be frustrating. She said, “Lots of competitors spent way too many hours in iso.” As a seasoned competitor, Roy is used to the hours an individual can spend in Iso, but believes that it’s a point that should be reviewed.
Long isolation times can be exhausting and greatly affect the performance of the athlete. Though some might say that this is but the nature of the sport, it is possible to argue that there might be better ways to run this aspect of the competition.
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Even still, Roy maintained that the competition was stellar and is psyched to bring everything she can to Youth Bouldering Nationals in the following weeks. In preparation she said, “I’ll continue doing what I’m doing right now: training hard, climbing a lot, eating well, trying to get as much sleep as I can.”
Roy expressed excitement at the upcoming youth climbers saying, “I think it’s great that more youth females are competing.”
In the boys’ field, a tough competition was held between three Ontario powerhouses. Though there were many strong climbers represented in the field, Zach Richardson, Ben Agro, and Mitchell Haight nabbed the top spots for Climber’s Rock.
Second place finalist from this year’s OBN, Richardson, finished in third place by an attempt. All three boys managed four tops and four zones in the final round, showcasing their Climber’s Rock strength.
In second position, Agro finished strong. He said, “I was quite excited going into this Regionals. The location was basically ideal: I have so much nostalgia at Délire and in Quebec City as a whole, it was actually where I won my first competition.”
In terms of setting, Agro maintained that the competition was well run. Agro enjoyed climbing with his long-time training partners, saying, “Competition with Zach and Mitchell made the experience truly memorable. All the fun of finals was derived from our friendly competition, and it just felt like a classic training session at CR. We always talked about sharing the podium (all three of us) but in the last decade it somehow hadn’t happened. Glad to finally see that goal achieved.”
Agro is stoked for his final YBN, saying, “Training this season has been a constant forward drive towards my last youth nationals.” As this will be Agro’s last YBN, he says “It just makes everything seem so much more special and gives that extra bit of motivation during training and competition.”
Haight, the first-place finisher, seconded this opinion saying, “This is my last season in youth so I would like to perform as best as I can.” Regardless, his story will not end with YBN as he looks to perform well in the Open circuit next year, despite the constraints of a post-secondary education.
Even though Agro, Haight, and Richardson will each be leaving the youth circuit this year, there is a strong upwelling of youth climbers that hope to replace them. Haight is excited by this fact, saying, “I love the fact that more and more strong climbers are developing in the youth circuit, the added competition is very welcome as well the huge growth for the sport that comes along with it.”
Though Haight is unquestionably strong, he notes that he has struggled with his head space in the past. He says, “I’ve really struggled with my mental game for the past two years so to end my last season in youth with a better mindset is incredible. I have a lot of little small tricks to help me keep my head in the right mindset, like power posing in the chair or reading mental quotes from my binder.”
Like Agro, Haight compliments his podium-ed peers saying, “It was incredible to be able to stand up there with Ben and Zach. I’ve been friends and training partners with them pretty much from the beginning of my competitive climbing career. As you could imagine it’s been somewhat of a goal of ours to have an all CR podium and to see that finally come to fruition was a great feeling.” For full results click here.
Eastern Results Men/Women
- Mitchell Haight / Babette Roy
- Ben Agro / Ève Laprise
- Zach Richardson / Sophie Valence
Western Results Men/Women
- Guy McNamee / Paige Boklaschuk
- Kindar McNamee / Megan Bokenfohr
- Ethan Flynn Pitcher / Brielle Zacharias