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The good, the bad, and the HOPELESS


Submitted by gecko_girl on 2004-08-26

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You know what the comps are supposed to be like, right? 8 hours of sitting in front of the fan, waiting for them to call your name. By the sounds from the crowd, you can assume that quite a few have flashed their semi-finals route.

Then the pressure is on, and you soon find yourself walking along the colored strip of tape that leads to your group's 'on deck' chair. You put your shoes on and tighten the harness, trying to focus on what your route had looked like during the five-minute preview. You want to make the top, but think it wise just to relax and just do your best. Then the one-minute timer starts, and you tie yourself in.

Looking up, you see your parents or friends in the back- looking worried and anxious as if the world were going to end. The timer goes off. You head for the starting hold after a quick glance at the top. 'Jeez,' you think.'It doesn't look so bad!' But it does. The routesetter seemed to have worked against you, adding foreign holds and reachy moves. Not just that, but he added a dyno to start the whole shebang.

Yeah, you know that all routes in comps are supposed to be awesome and legendary. But this was truely a torturous work of art.

Next day, you still haven't let up on the tension. Yes, you were relieved when of the results paper in the hotel lobby showed you one up from the cutoff line, but perhaps you were just lucky. The judges hadn't counted on there being so many ties, and had to allow the last tie- you and some other kid- to go to the finals. You're still amazed that you had pulled through almost past the crux move in the final stretch

And yet maybe you were good enough for it, though that was a small consolation. There were plenty of other kids that could have outdone you. And yet...you were getting better, seeing as you almost did that 12a in the gym. Maybe...

When the finals do come, you still think yourself unready. You pack a couple OJ bottles in your pack, and -after a thought- throw in your lucky socks. Laughable, you admit, but it wouldn't hurt to call on superstition to help you out in a time like this. 'This' was your first nationals, first year of climbing big-time. And you were determined (if a little hopeless) to at least get somewhere near the top fifteen, if not fifty.

After checking in, you find that your name is at the top of the list, that you were going first. Gulp. But at least the holds would be unused and, though it's no matter to you, much more favorable. You use the minutes you have to warm-up, avoiding the side where the louder, more popular kids were. They were ok, but you find their bragging a little hard to take.

Then a lady sweeps in, calling for the first two climber of each catagory. You obligingly follow her, again watching the floor for your color strip of tape. At your seat, you sit down hard and try to stretch out your mucsles. But with a hard look from the kid in a chair next to you, you settle down and slip on your walkman headphones. Ten minutes of waiting, then the timer sounds.

You carefully put the stuff away and, with a quick look to kid next to you, stand up and turn towards your route.

The minute you're climbing, the sounds around you fade. You can't hear the music, you only focus on the route. The route was a good one, not like the semi-final. The holds this time were familiar to you, and you grow accustomed to the moves the route was using. The you reach the crux. You don't know how far up you are, but the last bit doesn't look too bad. You lauch up for the sloper, and manage to catch a small bump up top. The left leg stemed out, you pull up and gradually find the crimper just above your head.

Your hands are sweating, but it's impossible to let go for fear of falling. At that moment, spot a rediculously small foot hold to your right. Can you make it? Your weight shifts and, incredibly, your right foot catches a toehold. With a quick push, you find yourself looking at...

...the finish hold.

That's when you hear the noise, the cheering coming from below you.

A few hours later, the last competitor fell off in an attempt to dynofor the finish hold. Your mind is in a numb shock. No one, no one had finished the finals route. Besides you. Happiness fills you, and you run off to confirm with the judges. They can tell you're happy, but looked a little confused as well.

'How'd you do that, anyway?' one asks. 'You looked like you had that thing down to a fine art!'

You don't answer you're so full of happiness. Next year you would come back, and the next, and the next. When asked later how you did it, you smile and say, 'I just relaxed, and let the climber do it for me.'

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