Vail Colorado is the perfect backdrop for the Teva Mountain Games, held every June for athletes all over the world. The games celebrate the outdoor nature of sports such as mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, running, and of course, climbing. Last weekend I attended the event for the first time as I competed in the Bouldering World Cup, held during the Games for the 3rd time.
I arrived in Colorado after taking an afternoon flight out and got to the town of Vail at around 11pm. The entire place seemed like out of a dream, as the buildings loomed out of the darkness and covered the mountains surrounding with an eerie shadow. The place seemed ready to explode with the building energy. The next morning, I awoke to the sound of the Vail River running outside our hotel and the announcer already exciting the crowd of people watching a whitewater kayaking competition going on in the river below. I tried to get out of bed as fast as I could to see as much as I could before I had to be in isolation at 12:30. I walked over to the climbing area and was able to watch the women’s qualifier session with my friends before the men’s session started, then headed into iso with my friend Alex Johnson.
the crew: (left to right)
me, Alex, Tris, Zan, Tayler, Eric, and Julian
Audrey Gawrych | Chauncenia Cox
Isolation for the World Cup was different than other isolations that I have been in. Instead of the usual group of kids on different teams, there was a very serious group of 50 guys from 20 different countries, speaking different languages and warming up by doing one-arm pullups and v11 add on games. Talk about psyching out the competition… I was able to warm up fairly well with Alex and Ian Dory (another strong kid out of Colorado) and walked out to the wall.
As soon as I turned around to face Problem 1, I knew I was in for a hell of a challenge. The climb started on two sloping holds that you had to mantle to, then dyno out right to a pinch on the arête and finish out some harder moves. It took me almost the entire 5 minutes to stick the dyno and bonus hold a couple moves later. The other problems were even harder, and I progressed less and less far on each one. Hugely demoralizing. ughhhh. The video below shows my best attempt at problem 1. Thanks for the encouragement, mom.
I ended up taking 48th place, which wasn’t bad, considering I was the youngest male competitor there by far. The next day, I hung out with Alex and Taylor Clarkin from Arizona, and we walked around the entire town checking out the various sponsor booths and events. We saw the semi-finals of the World Cup in the morning and took off from there. Probably the sickest things we saw were the dog jump contest (the dog is jumping to grab a rubber toy) and the BMX freestyle competition. Both were pretty eye-opening.
The finals for the World Cup were that afternoon, and more than 5,000 people turned up to watch the event. Local Daniel Woods was the favorite for the men, followed closely by Jernej Kruder from Slovenia (yes, he does have a Teva hand shaved into his head). The women’s event was a much closer field, but Alex Johnson and Alex Puccio were the favorites from winning the last two years respectively. In the end, Chloe Grafteux won for the women, beating out the Alex’s and Austrian Anna Stohr. Daniel crushed the men’s competition and took home the first World Cup bouldering win for the US ever. REPRESENT.
Sierra Blair-Coyle in the semifinals
The next day I competed in the citizen’s comp, which was had some really cool problems set by the world cup crew. I ended up tying for first place overall by sending a crazy problem going all the way up the 25’ wall with a dyno to a huge bulge, then a hard lockoff move to slopers to a dyno to the finish. Really sick problems overall though. I flew home that afternoon after a long drive back to Denver and lots of studying for finals. eew. Summer is almost here…