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Youth Bouldering Nationals 2020

Comebacks and kid-crushers at The Hive's Bouldering Nationals.

For Junior-category climbers, Youth Bouldering Nationals represents an opportunity to display the hard work of the season’s training. This year’s competition was held at The Hive – North Shore in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ethan Hoffman at Youth Bouldering Nationals – photo by Greg Locke

The opening rounds of the competition were exciting. For the women, there were few enough competitors that every participant made it to the semi-final round. Though this might have reduced the pressure in qualifiers, the hard setting of semis made for an electric competition.

Competitors each tried for one of the six spots available in finals. For Ontario climber Ruby Tennen, semi-finals was tough. After a hard round, Tennen managed to qualify in sixth.

Pressure on, Tennen decided to break out the power in Finals. Tennen was psyched to come away with second place. She said, “I was definitely not expecting that after qualifying in sixth at semis.”

For her, the difference between the rounds was mental. Tennen said, “In qualifiers and semis I was very nervous because I was too focused on the podium. I ended up having the worst competition rounds of my life. In finals though, I qualified last so I was climbing first, which took all the pressure off. I was just thinking about climbing my best and having fun, not about results. I ended up flashing the first climb and continued to have an amazing round.”

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Tennen credits her strong performance to her training and her coach, Matt Chapman. Following Nationals, Tennen said, “I will be training for lead season and Bouldering Selection Camp, which is in a little under 3 weeks.”

Though Tennen climbed well, securing two tops and four zones, she needed one more top to meet the standard set by first place finalist Paige Boklaschuk. Boklaschuk has had a strong season with a win at Youth Regionals and a third-place finish at the Open Bouldering Nationals held earlier this year.

Boklaschuk was stoked on her performance at Nationals this year. This competition marked her first National title. Though Boklaschuk is coming off an exceptional season, she has decided to refrain from training for routes.  Instead, she will focus more directly on bouldering. She said “Hopefully I’ll be competing at bouldering world cups and have another successful national season next year.”

As a Junior-category athlete, “next year” means the end of high school, and the beginning of a new chapter in this competitor’s life. Boklaschuk said, “The plan for next year is to do university and competitions! Although it will definitely be a learning curve to manage a busy schedule, I’m hoping I can compete at a national level next season.”

Paige Boklaschuk standing into an undercling at Youth Bouldering Nationals – photo by Philip Quade

Though Boklaschuk is psyched to walk away with the win, she knows that she still has a long way to go to be the competitor she wants to be. She said, “I know I’m not strong enough to be competitive with a lot of the girls at world cups, so I see it mostly as a learning experience. I learned so much from climbing in world cups last year and meeting other members of Team Canada, so I’m really hoping I can have that experience again.”

She is conscious of the strength of the international field and is willing to put in the hard work required to get her to the tops of podiums on the international bouldering circuit.

Also seeking to compete internationally is Ontario climber Zach Richardson. The second-year Junior climbed in his last youth competition this weekend. Richardson has competed in the youth categories for 11 years, with a variety of competitions climbed both locally and internationally.

For Richardson, the main focus of the competition was ensuring that he had a good time.  He walked away with good memories and second position.

This competition marked Richardson’s third Nationals this year and followed a strong performance at Open Bouldering Nationals and USAC Bouldering Nationals in Oregon. Through all of these competitions, Richardson has climbed injured. He said, “I’m still trying to fix it and it has been fluctuating recently which is pretty frustrating. This year there will not be much downtime from competing and training, for me, with the international season about to start, so I’ll have to figure something out.”

Despite injury, Richardson said “I’m always excited for the future and that’s why I keep climbing.” The athlete credits the youth circuit for helping him develop into the climber he is today and for providing many of the relationships he now values most.

Though Richardson climbed well, taking down three tops and three zones, it was B.C.’s Kindar McNamee that took home first position. McNamee was elated to win, saying, “It feels great. I was really disappointed with my result after OBN. I was really pleased that I could get past that and win YBN.” After not making semis at OBN, McNamee could only be stoked.

McNamee’s victory was the result of a hard-fought season. He said, “My results have been a bit up and down over this season. I want to work on consistency in my bouldering. I know I need to work a little bit on my mental game. At YBN I felt much less stress once I made finals. This helped me do well in finals. I need to take that lesson to all comps.”

Kindar McNamee pulling down – photo by Greg Locke

McNamee’s motivation is born largely from his results in competition. He said, “When I do poorly, I am really motivated to train harder.” Following his strong victory, McNamee is looking to work hard in preparation for Youth Boulder Selection Camp, taking place in the next few weeks.

To watch various rounds from Youth Bouldering Nationals, click here. For full results, click here.

Female/Male Results:

  1. Paige Boklaschuk / Kindar McNamee
  2. Ruby Tennen / Zach Richardson
  3. Brielle Zacharias / Guy McNamee