Friday, June 14, 2024

Eagle Climbing and Fitness qualifies 4 for USA Climbing Divisionals

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Eagle Climbing and Fitness athlete Waylon Larson competes at the USA Climbing Region 41 championships in Tulsa, Okla. last month.
Courtesy photo

Eagle Climbing and Fitness qualified four athletes to the USA Climbing divisional championship this month.

Iris Sheldon (11th, female youth A), Ada Cole (13th, female youth C), Ella Regjo (seventh, female youth B) and Waylon Larson (sixth, male youth C) all finished in the top 13 at the Region 41 championships held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 11, advancing to the divisionals in Broomfield on June 15-16.

Coach Larry Moore said 23 of his climbers qualified for the lead/top rope regional event, but not all decided to go because of travel logistics and distance.

“If it would have been in Denver or Colorado Springs, we probably would have had all the athletes we had qualified go,” he said.

The regional used an isolation format, meaning athletes waiting to climb remained staged in a separate room away from the wall. Climbers had five minutes to attempt each of the three routes per category. Male and female youth C and D age groups competed in top rope only, while lead climbing was reserved for B, A and junior divisions.

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“It’s a pretty big step for a lot of kids to make,” Moore said regarding the difference between lead and top rope. Eagle Climbing and Fitness youth C athletes practice lead climbing to be more prepared for the youth B competition environment, Moore added.

“There’s a different mentality. The element of the fear of falling on lead is a much stronger mental focus that’s required,” he said. “It takes a while to develop that.”

The divisional competition in Broomfield will be the first for Larson and Regjo — who qualified last year but didn’t attend — and Cole.

“This is a really big step for Ada,” Moore said of Cole, who moved up to the gym’s elite team this spring.

“(It’s) a big move for her to move up to the more advanced team; and then to do so well in her first season on that team — to the point where she qualified for divisionals — is just a great story. She’s just really stepped up her game.”

Moore described Cole as being “a focused, hard-working young lady.”

“She’s super coachable and tries super hard, so it’s fun to see her get the results she deserves for the amount of work, energy and time she puts into it all,” he said.

Eagle Climbing and Fitness athlete Ada Cole competes at the USA Climbing Region 41 championships last month in Tulsa, Okla.
Courtesy photo

Larson qualified for divisionals during the USA Climbing bouldering season, but the competition at G1 Climbing + Fitness in two weeks will be his first lead/top rope divisional.

“We just continue to be impressed by that young man,” Moore said. “And Ella’s having her best season ever and Iris has always been strong and just took it to another level.”

William Larson, Waylon’s brother, improved from a 22nd-place regional finish in 2023 to taking seventh in the youth D category this year. Since youth D athletes can’t advance to divisionals, Larson’s finish marks the end of his USA Climbing campaign, but Moore was still excited about the result.

“For him to step it up at that level of competition is super promising for him as a young athlete,” Moore said.

Getting ready for the GoPro Mountain Games

Moore said he expects to have a big group competing at the climbing competitions at this week’s GoPro Mountain Games. Most of his athletes, even perhaps the divisional qualifiers, will climb at Thursday’s youth event.

“We’ve encouraged participating in whatever competitions they can because it just helps train their brain to work under that pressure, be a competitor, try their hardest and learn to control those nerves,” Moore said.

While the Mountain Games is a bouldering event, the format — unlimited tries on whatever routes an athlete wants — favors climbers coming off the endurance-focused lead/top rope season.

“It’s good timing for those kids,” Moore said before adding that his athletes will also be encouraged to learn from the pros competing in the North American Cup. He hopes they observe how the best in the world read routes and make changes after a fall.

“There’s really two choices: you either try what you did harder than you did, or you change what you try,” Moore said. “Sometimes kids want to just jump right back on.”

“The intent you’re going to see when (the pros are) performing is so much more sophisticated than what the kids are doing and they can really learn from that,” he continued. “It’s not about how many attempts I can get in four minutes, it’s about doing the right thing in those four minutes.”

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