Archive for climbing

geometric climbing

Posted in Mountains, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2021 by xi'an

On the qualifying round for the Tokyo Olympics, the French climber Mickaël Mawem ended up first, while his brother Bassa was the fastest on the speed climb (as a 2018 and 2019 World Champion) but ruptured a tendon while lead climbing and had to be flown back to Paris for a operation. The New York Times inappropriately and condescendingly qualified this first position as being “unexpected” when Mickaël is the 2019 European Champion in bouldering… The NYT is piling up in its belittling by stating that “Anouck Jaubert of France used a second-place finish in speed to squeak into the final¨… (The other French female climber did not make it, despite being one of the first women to reach the 9b level.)

I remain puzzled by the whole concept of mixing the three sports together. As well as by the scoring system, based on a geometric average of the three rankings, which means in particular that the eight finalists will suffer less than in the qualifying round from a poor performance in one of the three climbs (as Adam Ondra for the speed climb). In addition, there is an obscure advantage coming to Adam Ondra for Bassa Mawem cancelling his participation: according to the NYT, “Ondra will receive a bye and an automatic slot in the speed semifinals” meaning “that a likely eighth-place finish in speed — a ranking number that can be hard to overcome in the multiplication of the combined format — will now be no worse than fourth for Ondra”. (The sentence on the strong impact due to the geometric mean is incorrect in that it has less impact that the arithmetic!)

marijua…what?!

Posted in pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , on July 28, 2021 by xi'an

I was completely flabbergasted to hear about the suspension of the fastest US sprinter, Sha’Carri Richardson (10.75 in the 100m!), from the Olympic Games in Tokyo for smoking marijuana. In a US State where such smoking is legal… It happens that marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances. And that one of the reasons is that its “use violates the spirit of the sport”, which sounds particularly absurd. And sooo patronising, when the WADA mentions that it is not “consistent with the athlete as a role model for young people around the world.” Considering that alcohol, caffeine, tobacco are not prohibited at all… (Plus, it is quite dubious that marijuana would have a positive impact on running performances.) A few days later, I found out that in 2001 the legendary Chris Sharma had been disqualified from the bouldering World Cup after testing positive for THC….

Methow River fire

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2021 by xi'an

“old” vs. “new” sports

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2021 by xi'an

The Paris 2024 Olympics Committee has removed the 50km men race walk competition from the program, towards a mixed competition, possibly another walk. The argument is bringing more parity to the game (even though 50km women race walks are taking place, as seen above at the 2019 World championship, which was run under hugely inappropriate temperatures) while reducing the number of athletes. While I do realise this is not a very popular sport, I remain impressed by the athletes (who manage to walk over 20km  almost faster than I ran my best ½ marathon times!). Other new mixed competitions will include skeet shooting, two extreme canoe slalom events, three mixed events in sailing, and a new women’s weight class in boxing will replace a men’s class. (In my opinion, boxing should be banned altogether, given its demonstrated and devastating impact on athletes’ brains.) Other new sports include skateboarding, sport climbing (bouldering+lead climbing being separate from speed climbing) and surfing as well as break-dancing, grouped as “youth-focused events”, the last item creating a wee bit of controversy for being one of many forms of athletic dancing, and furthermore proving hard to judge in an objective way, while barring sports like squash from entering the list. Given that the list of Olympic sports is finite (and shrinking) there will obviously be more losers than winners, with some incomprehensibly over-represented disciplines (like, e.g., 18 wrestling competitions!), but it is somewhat annoying to see a rise in spectator sports that are more enjoyable to watch but harder to rank. (Although I do not particularly care for the Olympics and hope to stay away from Paris at the time! Like, attending JSM 2021 in Portland, Oregon.)

climbing encounters

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2020 by xi'an

A nice if easy climbing morn on Éperon de Bouchier (à ne pas confondre avec Crochet de Boucher!) a week ago with a local guide, François, who happened to be a formidable character (even conditioning on him being guide). He left school at 14 to become a car mechanic, join the French Navy at 16, caught tuberculosis on a Navy basis, was sent to the Alps for recovery, caught a fatal and definite mountain attraction while there, got training supported by the Navy for an higher mechanic degree, took qualification courses to become a French mountain guide, started being interested in learning techniques and abilities through his training ski schools, experimented new teaching methods with kids from the Marseille suburbs,  eventually joined a Master in biomechanics and ergonomy at Orsay and ended up with a thesis on the topic, worked with French ski federation and a French ski brand, and is still guiding, training and researching despite having passed the retirement age! A wonderful chance encounter, with the facility of the route making chatting not an issue. (Except that some puritan ayatollah had recently removed most of the bolts, which did not make things harder in the end but exhibited an absurd degree of self-righteousness on a route that easy…)

And then an even more rewarding climb today with another local guide, Cathy, who gave me a great and profitable climbing lesson for over three hours, allowing me to reach a higher climbing level than I had previously achieved on an outside route. With a high degree of pedagogy and support. I ended up fairly tired, but exhilaratedly so!