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May 31, 2010 – Exclusive Gripped Interview with Canada’s Climbing Champion

Sean McColl shares his thoughts on winning his third Canadian National Bouldering championship, competing in the World Cup and tips on becoming a better climber.

May 31, 2010 – Exclusive Gripped Interview with Canada’s Climbing Champion

Sean McColl shares his thoughts on winning his third Canadian National Bouldering championship, competing in the World Cup and tips on becoming a better climber.

1. Congratulations on your recent win at the Canadian National Bouldering comp. This was your third time winning this event. I heard your mom got hurt competing before you were scheduled to start. What happened? How did this influence your mindset during the competition?

Thanks! My mom did get hurt the morning before finals. I was just waking up when I got a phone call that my mom was in an accident. I ran to the gym and got there before the ambulance had left. Apparently, she had taken an awkward fall and broke her leg during the citizens’ comp. While my mom was waiting for the ambulance at the gym, she made Tour de Bloc organizer promise that I’d still compete in finals. I spent the next four hours with her in the hospital while they re-aligned her foot and prepped her for surgery. By the time I got back to the comp, all I could think about was my mom. I think six or seven of the 10 finalists completed the first boulder problem. I wasn’t one of them. While I was at the rest station between problems one and two, I tried to re-focus. I flashed problem two and saw another couple of people complete the first problem. The next two boulder problems (three and four) were super hard and it was 35 degree Celsius in the gym. I had to flash the final problem to have any chance of winning the comp. I took my time. The last move was the crux, with a big thrutch to the final jug. I stuck it at full extension and hung there one-handed for a few seconds to take in the accomplishment. I jumped down and knew that if Terry Paholek or Yves Gravell completed any of the remaining three problems they would take the title. I watched and waited for 25 minutes and while they both got super close on the final problem neither of them could complete the last move. After it was all over, I had my third TDB Nationals victory, Yves was in second and Terry was in third.

2. On your website you mention that you’re going to Europe again this summer to compete in the World Cup circuit. What particular events are you looking forward to? Goals?

I’ve been in school for the past year so my goals have changed a bit. I’m just going to try and keep making finals at all the World Cups I go to. When I started school again, I committed myself to my program. Although I still trained three days a week, my mind was focused on my school work. I still feel strong and I’m hoping I can climb as well this year. I plan on attending the World Cups in Vail, Eindhoven, Sheffield, Munich and Chamonix. Chamonix is the only Lead competition and the other four are bouldering.

3. How about rock? Do you have any goals for rock routes and bouldering when you are in Europe?

No goals for outdoor routes at the moment. I’m going to climb wherever I can for training during the summer. If I make it back to Magic Wood this summer, I’d like to repeat Daniel Woods’ Remembrance of Things Past V14. I was close on this problem last year, falling at the last move many times.

4. Who do you think is climbing well right now? Why?

Daniel Woods is a machine right now. I think this summer, if he chooses to boulder, he’ll do a few V15’s, and if he chooses to climb, he’ll do a few 9a’s. I’ve climbed with him on numerous trips and his motivation and ability to be constantly psyched on climbing makes him an unbelievable person and climber.

5. Unlike many of World Cup competitors you are not a full-time climber. How do you manage to climb, train, compete and still go to school/work?

A few years ago, I realized there are three main aspects of a person’s life: climbing, school and work. I could only do two out of those three things this year so I chose school and climbing. Although school takes up most of my time, I still train three days a week and have enough time to hang out with my friends and go on trips.

6. Any climbing goals for North America?

Unfortunately no. I won’t be back in North America until September and I’ll start my next semester at school. I think when I get back, I’ll try to take down a few hard boulder problems in Squamish before it starts raining.

7. Finally, do you have any advice for the average person wanting to improve their climbing?

Get a good training plan and a training partner. Those two things are the most important. When it gets close to competition season, watch what you eat, keep up your cardio and try to get psyched. Eighty percent of a competition is confidence.