Wow, I've just been dropped into the Super-Bowl of climbing. It's really hard to try to describe the scope of the Arco Rockmaster competition, but I can sum it up by just saying it's really really big. The whole town of Arco seems to be all about climbing. I'm not kidding... there's about 8 climbing shops in this small town... not shops that sell sports wear and energy bars... CLIMBING SHOPS that sell carabeeners and climbing shoes and ice axes. Signed posters are on the walls of the climbing stores as well as the gelato shops. Walking around town, I constantly get the feeling that I recognize people, but I know for certain that I don't. The fitness level of this town makes boulder look like a weight-watchers convention.
Right now I'm sitting inside an air-conditioned mobile press office the bring in to help folks like me do our jobs. There's an assistant here to help with the technology and to make sure the media can get the materials out about the results and the happening here at the event.
Nalle and the rest of the field for the mens bouldering event already had one practice round today. Overall the problems seemed a bit hard, as nobody was able to complete a single problem. Some of the moves only went once or twice. I think the course setters added a couple holds to ease off the difficulty some, but this afternoon the problems look basically 99% as hard as they did this morning.
Right now the crowd is numbering about 1500 and the womens sport climbing event just got under way. By the time the mens bouldering contest begins I would expect the crowd to be about double this. It looks like there's about 6 or 7 times as many people here than at the recent OR comp.
Nalle seems nervous, but I don't think that's new for him to be nervous before a comp. The field is so talented this year that winning will probably just come down to who has a better day and who's body best fits the problems. There's luck involved in some of the moves as well, with showmanship seeming to be an important part of the course setting.
The women's comp is about done now and I need to set up to film the boulder event. I'll write more this evening...
Okay, I'm back. What an exciting comp! Nalle placed 3rd overall, behind the uber-strong climbers Kilian Fischuber (who took 1st) and David Lama (2nd). Nalle was the only climber to complete the first problem, but his lead evaporated on the second problem which he was unable to finish while Kilian and David stuck a very low-percentage dyno to access the top of the problem.
On the last problem, as Nalle attempted to win the comp by being the only competitor to finish the devious slab, he pulled a large feature off the wall (not a hold... a feature) and took the bath-tub sized feature down to the mats with him. Unhurt, he was more surprised than anything. The setters bolted the thing back onto the wall and Nalle had his last try of the comp. His balance failed on the technical rock-out move and he tied the others on the final problem leading to his 3rd place finish overall.
I understand the comp was broadcast live on the Internet, and Nalle's mom phoned him right away to ask about the contents of the bouquet he was presented with during the awards and why he would throw such a nice set of flowers into the audience.
It was a great comp and I got some nice footage I'll use to contrast the split lifestyle of climbers like Nalle, who's main focus is climbing boulders outside, and who's fitness allows him to compete with the plastic specialists like Kilian. Next stop: Switzerland.