Paris is a city best experienced first-hand. With a baguette in the other hand. If you've been, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to you that the food was the highlight of my trip. It was very difficult to stay away from those chocolate croissants until I was done competing, but because I didn't make it past qualifiers, my dilemma was short-lived and I was quickly consuming pastries to my heart's content.
|Creds to Rachel Schwartz for kick-ass restaurant recommendations. Chez Omar, above, was unreal.|
|Even when we ate at the apartment, I could still get excited about the CHEESE|
Oh yeah, and I also represented the United States for speed climbing. As awesome as that necessarily was, there are a few reasons that this, the reason I traveled to Paris, was ultimately not the highlight of my experience there (which should help explain why I'm writing this halfway into the post).
|Stepping up for my first qualifier run|
Here's what I took from the experience. I executed well, given my level of preparation, and that felt good. Shockingly, I actually managed to beat Sean McColl, one of my heroes and a former world champion in the speed climbing event. However, this success, along with the ridiculously low cutoff times for the final round (below seven seconds!) drove home a message that wasn't what I expected to learn from the comp, and it wasn't the happiest one. The lesson was simple: if I want to succeed in speed climbing, I will need to specialize. The day of the generalist competitor is over. None of the speed climbers in finals were a threat in the other events, and vice-versa.
As sobering as this realization was for me, I still had a great time with the Speed Team and we managed to laugh off our collective destruction by the professional speed climbers we were up against.
|Julian, Ahmed, and I waiting out the speed delays|
|Julian, Dominic, and I ("The Dream Team") celebrating our 36 through 38th sweep.|
|Just seeing climbing on TV's made me so happy.|
|For anyone denying that climbing is a spectator sport, I have 19,000 fans here who would say otherwise|