A Chat With Noah Ridge, ABS14 Youth 3rd Place Finisher

After a 7th place finish in the 2012 ABS Youth National Male Junior Championships, Minnesota climber Noah Ridge battled his way to the podium in 2013 taking 3rd place and earning an invitation to Team USA.  This was Noah’s last year of eligibility for ABS Youth Nationals, so we are excited to see him medal and look forward to watching him compete with the country’s best climbers in the 2014 ABS Open Nationals.

Until then, Noah will continue to train with elite athletes under coach Kris Peters in preparation for future comps.  Here in Minnesota, gym climbers will have the opportunity to climb routes set by Noah at his home gym, Vertical Endeavors, and at the Twin Cities best kept secret, the Minnesota Climbing Co-op.

I caught up with Noah by email to chat about his last ABS Youth experience.

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You’ve competed in Youth Nationals before, how many years have you competed there?  
I have competed in youth nationals for the last 5 years although this is only the third year I have done [ABS] bouldering nationals.

Do you feel comfortable going there now?  Still get nervous at all?
I still get a little nervous before the comp although I’m pretty comfortable there as in the last 5 years I have really gotten to know everyone.

How do you prepare for comps?  Do you train specific to the comp?  
I do train specifically for big comps like [ABS] nationals, spent a lot of time training, about 6 days a week. I do a lot of onsight training since you don’t get very much time to try the problems in a comp like this.

You also compete in sport climbing, do you train differently for different disciplines of climbing?
Yeah the training is very different for the sport climbing vs bouldering competitions, I spend a lot more time on endurance [for sport] and less time training power.

Did any of the boulders play to your strengths in any way?  Did you stall on any of the problems or overcome any adversity to get the flash on any of them?  
The boulders in semifinals really played to my strengths, they were very powerful and not very technical. I was one of only 2 people to get 3 tops in semifinals along with Michael O’Rourke.  The problems in finals were not my strengths, the first one was a slab that I was unable to finish and the second had a really hard technical section which I was able to power through after 2 attempts.

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Topping out. Photo: Tom Condie

You finished Semis in 2nd place in the Male Junior division.  How was your confidence level heading into finals?  
My confidence was fairly good going into finals although I knew the problems were gonna be really hard and it was gonna be tough to stay in 2nd place.

Eventual Male Junior winner, Josh Levin, also competed in the Open Nationals, finishing 19th.  Was he your strongest competition at this event?  Do you think his experience at Open Nationals the week before gave him an edge over the rest of the field?
He was one of the really strong competitors and probably one of the best all around technical climbers although I had a ton of other really strong competition there such as Michael O’Rourke who recently sent V14 and a number of other people. At the top of the field there are a ton of really strong guys who are all really close competition so its hard to really pick a favorite. Open nationals is a great experience although we all do these comps so often I don’t think it necessarily gave him an edge.

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Noah Ridge and Josh Levin. Photo: Kyra Condie

There was no live feed of Youths and few details shared during the comp.  Can you describe your performance in finals?  How many boulders did you flash? Top?
In finals I topped one boulder second try, the second problem of 3. The first problem was a really tricky slab problem consisting mostly of volumes which I was unable to do after a ton of tries. The second problem I topped second try, it was a tricky technical problem with a mantle intended. On the third problem I got my high point first try and then didn’t have enough energy to get very high up on subsequent tries.

It turns out that one of the setters for Youths was MN’s own Nic Oklobzija.  Did he set any problems for your division?  Is there any advantage to knowing setters styles before a comp?
Yeah Nic O set my second finals problem and my third qualifiers problem; knowing the setters style can be a little advantage but you never know who is gonna set your problem so it doesn’t help that much.

Locally, you are widely considered to be a front runner in every comp you enter.  I’ve personally seen you win handily in both bouldering and rope comps.  How are local comps different than national comps for you?
Local comps are a bit different, they’re a lot more laid back than nationals and can be pretty fun but I really enjoy the intense competition at national level comps.

What is next for you? Any comps coming up?
I’ll be doing adult open rope nationals in early April and SCS [Sport Climbing Series] youth nationals in July  I’d also like to do a lot of climbing outside this summer.

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Paying the Rent, 5.14a, HCR. Photo: Zach Bramel

Will you continue traveling to train in CO or was that specific to preparing for this competition?

Yes I’ll keep going to Colorado to train as its a great resource to have to train for my upcoming comps.

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With coach Kris Peters. Photo: Tom Condie

You are sponsored by Five Ten.  How is that relationship for you?  Do they take an active role in your competition life?  How do you see that progressing as you approach the end of your youth career?

Having a relationship with five ten, although they don’t play a huge role in my competition life, helps because I go through a lot of shoes. In the future I would like to find more sponsors but at the moment I don’t have any.

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Photo: Tom Condie

You are 18 years old now, what is the cutoff age for Youth Nationals?  Will you compete in this comp again next year?  Do you see yourself competing in Open Nationals?
This was my last year doing youth bouldering nationals, next year I plan to do open bouldering nationals.

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With proud Mom. Photo: Kyra Condie

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Noah flashing the Men’s Open Finals route at VE Minneapolis’ 2012 Jug-or-Not comp

ABS14 Youth National Highlights

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