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Lucas Uchida: A Champion in the Making

Since he started climbing and competing three years ago, 16-year-old Lucas Uchida has been one of the top junior competition climber in the country, and one of the most exciting young prospect for Canada to come along in some time.

In June, Uchida made his World Cup debut in Toronto, in a creditable 26th place, ahead of quite a few veterans of the national team. This fall, Uchida finished on the podium for the first time at the Tour de Bloc season opener at Allez Up in Montreal, the longest running competition series in the country.

Lucas Uchida. Photo Shane Murdoch
Lucas Uchida. Photo Shane Murdoch

He quickly followed that up with his first win at a Tour de Bloc just two weeks later, at True North in Toronto. He closed out the year by winning the bouldering competition and finishing fourth at the Youth Pan Am in Mexico City. Simply put, Uchida is now one of the top competition climber in Canada, no “Junior “ qualifier needed. Gripped spoke with Uchida about Pan Am, his year, and what’s next.

On his Pan Am experience: My original goal earlier on in the season was to make finals at the Youth World Championship (back in August). Worlds was a really expensive trip, so I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to go Pan Am, but luckily my parents were nice enough to help me out and send me there. I didn’t know I was going to go until mid-October.

I was a bit sick going in, and I wasn’t sure how my strength and everything was going to be, so I didn’t really have any expectations going in. I just knew I wasn’t going to be at the very peak of my performance. So I just went in trying to enjoy the experience, try to have fun, I thought that would be the best.

On winning his first TdB at True North: That was a huge surprise to me, I wasn’t expecting that at all.

On the difference between competing against youth vs. adults: The youth climbers I was competing against (at Pan Am) were just as strong, and the competition just as close (compare to adults). Youth climbers have really started to take climbing to a whole new level. You look at the climbers across the country and they are really starting to meet the adults now.

For a youth comp, I would usually know a lot of the competitors, whereas for an adult comp, it’s a lot different. But that would only be for comps in Canada, when it comes to any international events, some big names stand out, but I really don’t know who I am up against.

On climbing as a mental game: A lot of my challenges I am facing now in terms of my climbing are more mental challenges. Physical has been much easier in comparison to the mental battle I’ve had to face. A lot of has just been trying to figure what drives me in competition and how I should be thinking. I think as I slowly figure out what my mental game should be, the better my performances will get.

It has a lot to do with the challenge for sure. I love the challenge that comes with climbing, I do like the mental battle. Figuring out all the movement, its all very cool.

On his 2014 year: I wouldn’t say it was a break through. I would say it is a continuation of my work for the past three years.

On what he learned at the World Cup: It was really fun, really incredible. It’s such a rare opportunity and I wasn’t sure I would ever get there again. I performed a lot better than I thought I would, and I think that had a lot to do with the mindset I went in with. I went in with a very playful mindset, just to play on the problems, not so much dead serious, not smiling. I just decided to have as much fun as I can, because I might not be able to do it again.

On Mentors: I work with one coach, Andrew McBurney, he is the only coach I really work with. There are the national team coaches I spend my time with when I am travelling to an international event, but I spent most of my time with Andrew. I train 4 days a week, usually a structured team workout with Andrew, except Wednesdays which is a bit different. On Wednesdays, I train with the Boulderz Open bouldering team, that’s a little bit less structured. We still do conditioning and stretching, but its more just climbing with other strong climbers, it’s more playful. Andrew brings the training mindset, he knows how to keep me going through training, helps me push through any mental struggles.

I look up to climbers that have a lot of experience usually, or very nice people, like to share, and want the community to grow. One would be Tony Berlier, he’s helped me through a lot of the mental things, and he is full of knowledge, a lot of experience. He is definitely one of the climbers I look up to.

On What’s Next: A lot more comps, we looked at the calendar and there are 22 possible comps I can do between now and next summer, but I can’t do all of them. I would love to do the Toronto Bouldering World Cup again, and go to the Vail World Cup, so I will need to do Canadian Bouldering Natioanls, Youth Worlds next summer is also a big goal.

[shareprints gallery_id=”10365″ gallery_type=”thumb_slider” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”xlarge” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”false” sharing=”true”]Photos Courtesy: Shane Murdoch