Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday and Tuesday in Noumea: Final rounds

I'm catching up on the past two days, during which the final rounds of the World Youth Climbing Championship unfolded here in Noumea, New Caledonia.

On Monday, after breakfast I did my last bit of bathroom sink laundry, so I'll have enough clean clothes to wear until I get home. Then I did some more grocery shopping to stock up on breakfast & lunch supplies for my remaining time here. I spent a while relaxing & reading by the pool, and eventually made it over to the competition site for the evening's events. The schedule had the final rounds split across Monday and Tuesday, with half the categories doing Speed each night, and the other half Difficulty. First came the Speed climbing final round for the older kids. They had done their qualifying rounds in the morning, so we were down to 16 climbers per category. The final round was knock-out format; in the round of 16, 8 pairs climbed against each other, with the winner advancing to the next round. After each round the climbers were ranked by their time in that round, with the fastest climber facing the slowest in the next round, second-fastest vs second-slowest, and so on. So the round of 8 had 4 races, leading to the semi-finals, and then the small final (to determine the bronze medal winner and the 4th place finisher) and the big final to decide gold/silver. There were some surprises, with a few of the favoured Russian climbers falling or failing to hit the buzzer at the top, and some very close races. Speed is not my favourite climbing discipline, but this session was pretty exciting to watch. All of the Canadians had advanced to the round of 16, but none of them were fast enough for a medal.

When Speed was done they moved on to Difficulty, for the Youth B Boys and Girls and the Youth A Girls. With only 8 climbers left per category, this session took only about an hour, and it was very exciting climbing. There were only 2 climbers who made it to the top: Kai Lightner for the US, who moved up from 5th place after semi-finals to win the gold medal, and a Slovenian girl who topped her climb as the last climber of the evening.

When I got up on Tuesday morning, I found out that the day's schedule had been changed substantially. There was a lot of rain in the forecast for the evening, so the finals for the remaining Speed and Difficulty categories were moved up to the early afternoon.  I headed over to the wall in time for the Speed Qualification round. It rained intermittently during the morning, and there was a delay between the Speed Qualification and final rounds until the rain stopped.

Team Canada huddling under a tent,
and playing card during the rain delay

In the end they got all the climbing in. Wednesday had been announced by the local organizers as a backup day in case of bad weather, but apparently the IFSC (the international governing body for the sport) had not approved that plan, so everything had to get done on Tuesday. I found Tuesday's final rounds less exciting than those on Monday, partly because I knew the climbers less well, partly because the rain dampened the crowd's enthusiasm. The crowd was much smaller than Monday as well. After the climbing was done, the medals were handed out, the politicians made all their long boring speeches, and the event was over.

I returned to the hotel for a rest, pretty tired after standing most of the day, much of it in the rain. At 7 I joined several of the parents who had made the trip, and one of the team coaches, for dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was a really nice dinner, and good to get to know some of the parents a little better (I had not met any of them before this comp!).

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