Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 Season Wrap Up

With the Olympics in the air and motivation at its peak I have begun reflecting on this past competition season- a year that started off with some disappointment due to injury, but turned out to be my busiest and most memorable season yet.  It was filled with success and surprises shared with new friends and old friends, family, coaches and mentors. I ended up finding a perfect mindset for competition and really a new mindset for everything I do in life.

Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to spend three months following the Open World Cup circuit. This adventure led me all over the globe to competitions in the USA, Canada (in my hometown!), Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Competing at these high caliber events gave me confidence and milage that has taken my climbing to a whole new level. I watched as the posters on my wall came to life and I gained wisdom from these climbers that I have idolized since I begun climbing 9 years ago. It was these climbers that were now in front of me, climbing with me in the same events. After this summer I found myself with a newfound motivation to succeed. I had always wanted success, but too often I would measure my success by ranking. I would set expectations by placing myself based on the competitive field. I found that these expectations would often kill my performance, or worse, make me disappointed with a performance where I climbed strong but didn’t place well. As I watched and spoke to the more experienced climbers from Europe, USA and Asia I realized that although a rank is important to them, it is not what they focus on. The beauty of climbing is that the competition is essentially between yourself and the wall. The challenge comes from within you. My coach has always told me “control what you can control.” It is this advice that the best of the best have mastered. Who is in your field, you can’t control. The route, you can’t control. The angle of the wall, you can’t control. But what you can control is your own mind. I have come up with a new definition of success. When I have prepared fully for a competition and can walk away knowing that I have climbed my hardest with a smile on my face. When I beat the wall, I win- I’ve succeeded- regardless of what the results may say.  And, of course, defeat will happen, but I don’t believe in regret because with each mistake comes a lesson. This new approach to competition has allowed me to find an extremely stable mindset. With no pressures and no worries about the other competitors, or my ranking, I have a cleared mind and can focus all my energy and mental awareness on the present moment, on my own climbing, and then let the results follow. Unfortunately I couldn't put this new practice to work due to a knee injury that forced me to stop climbing for three months, but in that time, I got my psych back, reenergized my mind and was keen on coming back stronger in the new year.

This mentality led me to become the 2012 Canadian National Open Bouldering Champion and accomplish an undefeated 2012 lead season. By not focusing on results, ironically my results improved! The TDB Bouldering Nationals was a very important competition for me. I have been competing in the Tour De Bloc Open Circuit since I was 13 years old. I was inspired by the adult competitors motivation and focus, a focus that wasn’t necessarily as present in the youth circuit at 12/13 years old. The adult competitors welcomed me in as one of their own and I have been hooked to the positive TDB atmosphere since my first nationals on the circuit in Ottawa. Each year my placing improved moving from a proud 11th in my first year to a second place finish in 2010. Unfortunately, in 2011, last year, I wanted to win so badly, to finally move from that second to first, that I lost my focus. I had a very disappointing result and even missed finals by a few ranks. Coming back this year I went into the competition just wanting to climb. No pressure, no expectations. Just climb. There were big names entering the competition such as Iyma Lamarche, Thomasina Pidgeon, Melissa Lacasse and France’s, Mathilde Becerra. Physically, I knew it was anyones game. There were many strong climbers so what was going to set us apart would be the mental game. Hopefully all competitors are there because they love the sport, at least that’s the truth in my case, so I decided that no matter how good or how bad I placed, all I was going to do was have fun, never give up and focus on my own climbing and movement. When the chalk settled, after a very close final round, I ended up taking home gold. Following very, very closely behind was one of my best friends and inspiration, Iyma Lamarche. The youth lead nationals in Montreal wrapped up the Canadian season for me, finishing off with my 5th lead national championship title. All-in–all it was an unbelievable season. What was so valuable about this year was not the accomplishment of winning both circuits, but it was all the lessons learned along the way. My climbing has completely changed for the better; with the realization that results are simply a bonus, there is no longer room for disappointment, only learned lessons and fun times. 

                                                           Open TDB Nationals Finals
                     Holding up some championship hardware. Congrats to Seb for crushing it!! 

Although the physical and mental challenge of competition climbing keeps me hooked to the sport, it is the adventures in between that make the most memories. After returning from Vail, Colorado (always my favorite competition of the year!) and finishing up a brutal month of grade twelve exams and a few too many dates with Mr. Shakespeare, I finally graduated!! Yay! I gave myself the best graduation present ever… a road trip!!! The Canadian National Team training camp was planned for July 1-4 in Victoria B.C. (where Worlds 2013 will be.) My friend and teammate, Zach, and I decided we would stay after the camp and climb in Horne Lake and Squamish. Training camp proved to be pretty tough. The Canadian coaches don’t have much mercy… I still have 456 on my pushup tab… But after barely surviving the training and meeting some awesome new people on the team, I was more than ready to move on to some real rock! Horne Lake was amazing!! It is like Rodellar, which is my little piece of heaven, in Canada! 

The rock was very featured with huge tufas and stalagmites, and the movement was very three-dimensional, which is my favourite. Not to mention the scenery is unreal! The rock face, called “The Amphitheater”, is high up, right in the middle of the rainforest, overlooking the lake. Too me, part of climbing cool lines is definitely the aesthetics of the rock and the surroundings. I wish I had more time there, but the bittersweet moment came and we were off to Squamish to climb on some boulders. I had never really bouldered too much outside before so going here I wasn’t expecting much, especially since the rock is very much my anti-style (no hold slapping, mantels and bad feet thank god for my stealth rubber) and the grading is known for being pretty stiff if your not use to the style, but regardless, I could not have had a bigger smile on my face as I walked into the woods to be greeted by hundreds of boulders only meters away from one another! At first I was getting my ass kicked on some “easier problems,” but after getting in the grove and getting use to the style I fell in love with the place! Along the way we met some new friends too. Three guys from Victoria and a couple old friends from around B.C. and Alberta added to our climbing crew to make a sweet group of motivated and fun people to session with! 


Another cool surprise was that we were there during the Squamish Mountain Festival, which was definitely not planned. Because of the timing we were able to find some extra inspiration watching big names like Sonnie Trotter, Jonathan Siegrist, Dean Potter, and a lot more familiar faces climb their hearts out. On the last day of the trip the crew decided it would be fun to enter the Flashed Dyno Competition. A fun event where the distance between the holds gets progressively farther until you can no longer dyno the distance. Apparently I actually broke the woman’s dyno world record by leaping 2.2 meters. Check out the video J A fun way to end an amazing trip. 

As for right now, I am back home training in the Rockies, spending some time on my local limestone for another two and a half weeks, then off to Thailand and Singapore for some rock climbing and the World Youth Championships. After that my plan is to attend Queen’s University in the fall (while still climbing of course!) and participate in the Open Lead World Cup in Atlanta in September.
I am excited to see what other opportunities climbing gives me in the future and I will be sure to never doubt what can be achieved when you’re focusing on the present and having fun!

Stay tuned!



  1. Very insightful, Mr. Shakespeare would be pleased.

  2. It is now September 10th. Nothing new? Really? Ah, Elise .. who was it that said, "The best laid plans of mice and men do often go awry." I mean, are you busy or something? :) Hope to read an update, soon! All is well? Beaton