If you had not heard, two of our youth team members, Ian Frost and Maddie Gillis, made USA Climbing Nationals. Through their stellar performances in the local, regional, and divisional stages, they both qualified to compete with 48 other athletes in their age bracket. Along with their families and Team Salt Pump head coach Michaela, Ian and Maddie flew across country a few weeks ago knowing that they were the first athletes that Team Salt Pump has ever sent to Nationals!
The competition starts with qualifiers that whittles the field down from 50 to 20. The competitors climb 5 boulder problems each. Before they climb, they are put in isolation, not allowed to look at the climbs. “Staying focused in iso was the hardest part,” said Maddie “I draw to get rid of the nerves, doodle what’s around, draw some climbs, design climbs on paper.” Once their number is called, they have four minutes to complete each of the boulder problems with four minutes of rest in between.
"The whole experience was pretty scary, but I’m super proud of how well I climbed. I’m just going to keep having fun and carry this over to rope season"
“Overall, the climbs were a little scary because they’re tall and a little tricky,” said Maddie. But despite that she topped problem #1 and flashed #2. She fell going into a double undercling sequence on #3, and #4 had a confusing sequence with a dyno out of a roof. If you want to see her in action, check out the video from USA Climbing. She’s bib #1131, rocking that Team Salt Pump tank. “The whole experience was pretty scary, but I’m super proud of how well I climbed.” said Maddie, “I’m just going to keep having fun and carry this over to rope season.”
Ian echoed the same sentiments. He topped the first boulder in 2 tries, flashed the second, and got halfway into problems 3 and 4. He ended up being one spot away from advancing into semi-finals! See Ian climb his problems in this video. He’s bib #1117.
For Coach Michaela, the Nationals experience gave her a great perspective on how competitive the scene is. “The younger kids are really physically strong,” said Michaela. “It gives me a good template on what to work on for next season, like adding in more overhanging climbing and movements they’ve never seen before. But in the end, it’s climbing and it’s fun.”
Photos courtesy of Lucid Images, Kim Gillis, and Rufus Frost.