After making their way through Regional and Divisional competitions, youth sport climbers from around the country descended on Atlanta’s Stone Summit, July 4-7th, for SCS (Sport Climbing Series) Youth Nationals. Over a dozen Minnesota climbers made the cut, including 14 year old Kyle Struthers.
In only his third year of climbing and second year competing, Kyle made huge strides during the 2013 SCS season earning a first place finish in Male Youth B at Divisionals held in Indianapolis. Prior to SCS, Kyle competed in the 2013 ABS (American Bouldering Series) Nationals and took a respectable 15th in the nation in his age group.
I caught up with Kyle before and after the comp in Atlanta to chat about his road to Nationals and his experience competing.
How did you get started with climbing? Why do you love it?
I was introduced to it by my uncle but I really caught on at the U of M climbing wall near my house. I like it because it is an individual sport and the movement is unique. The other thing I like is that the community is really supportive.
Where do you climb the most? Do you get outside?
I climb the most inside at Vertical Endeavors in the Twin Cities. I try to get outside as much as possible but with school and not having a driver’s license it is kinda hard. But when I do go, I go to Taylors Falls, Sandstone and Willow.
What is your most accomplished climb?
My fourth try ascent of Monkey Bar Traverse, which is a v7 in Red Rocks Nevada.
You have participated in four SCS sanctioned comps this year. At the SCS Divisionals in Indianapolis, you took 1st place in Male Youth B. This was, by far, your best finish this year. How were you feeling going into the comp? Heading into finals?
I felt the strongest I had ever been on ropes but still nervous about my chances of making in to nationals after my 3rd place finish at Regionals and the fact I am better at bouldering than ropes. I felt good going into finals after qualifying in 3rd place. I was a little nervous because at ABS Divisionals I went into finals in 4th and ended in 7th. But I just put that out of my mind.
How hard was the final route?
The finals route was easy at the beginning and had hard moves as you went up. It probably wasn’t hard enough since two people topped (myself and my friend Jake Fields from Wisconsin).
Your win qualified you for SCS Nationals in Atlanta in next weekend, July 4-7. Are you training any differently for this event? How? What are you hoping to accomplish at Nationals?
I am training for nationals by attending a two week long training camp at Stone Summit (the host gym) held by some of the national team coaches. I hope to make it to semi-finals. But I wouldn’t be disappointed if that goal was not accomplished. I want to climb my best and have fun.
How’d you feel heading into Nationals? How did the first round go? How hard would you say the qualifying routes were?
I felt really strong heading into the comp, especially since I had been in Atlanta for two weeks prior to the event training at the gym with the U.S National Team Coach Claudiu Vidulescu and other strong climbers from around the nation.
The first round did not end up how I wanted it to. We had two qualifiers spread out over two days. on the first one I got to the last hold and then fell, because I spent way too much time clipping and in turn got myself way too pumped to do the last few moves on really bad slopers. The second day I put pressure on myself to do really well on the route in order to make Semis. This unfortunately didn’t turn out too well. I ended up not doing the correct beta and falling because of it. Needless to say I was pretty angry, but after messing up twice I knew that I didn’t necessarily deserve to be in the top 16 in the nation on this particular weekend.
The first qualifier was about 11b for the first half and then it ramped up to 12a for the second half. And the second one was probably 12a/b for the whole way.
Any lessons learned?
I think that one of the biggest lessons I learned is to not put pressure on myself to do well at comps. I mean I should want to do well but I shouldn’t get angry with a 28th place finish in the nation. I say this because I feel like if I climb my best on any given day that I can accomplish way more than if I beat myself up for every single mistake I make.
Did you watch the semis and the finals?
I did watch semis and finals. They looked like tons of fun, and I was itching to try them. It was somewhat bittersweet since the semi finals route for the Male Youth B category looked like it was totally my style and I think that I definitely could have made finals. And also the fact that the semi finals route was crimps which is definitely my style too. But I guess that it just motivation to train harder for next year.
What was your reaction to Kyra’s win? (Fellow MN climber, Kyra Condie, took 1st in Youth A)
Watching Kyra climb is always fun. But to see her top the route and beat the second place girl by about 4 clips is a pretty cool experience. I was a little nervous that she wouldn’t clip the chains since she was moving her feet around everywhere to try and find the right clipping stance, but in the end it all worked out and I am psyched for her. Especially given the amount of time she puts in and her dedication to the sport that I get to witness first hand when we train together at the gym.
Any highlights from the trip?
Man, if I had to pick one it would probably be watching my friend Drew Ruana from Seattle work out the beta on the finals route. Now this may not sound that awesome but consider the fact that he is 4′ 11″ or 5′ tall, and competing against a field of finalists that are all about 5′ 6″ or taller on a route that is set for that height. Needless to say there were a few movers he couldn’t reach that he bypassed by grabbing volumes. I was super psyched that he got 2nd place!
What comes after SCS Nationals for you?
After SCS Nationals I am going to be working at Escape Climbing Holds as the summer intern and taking drivers education. I will also try and go climbing outside as much as possible and hopefully send some of my projects. Some of those include Cave Traverse V8, and Mono Route 5.13a.
Aside from climbing, you are also an avid photographer. How did you get into that?
I started doing it because I wanted to have better profile pictures on Facebook (yes I know it sounds silly) and it is also very fun. Plus it also allows me to climb outside more. I just bring my camera with me and hopefully get some good shots. If you would like to see [my] work just go to the Mountain Goat Media Facebook page.
Kyle also shoots video now and again. Check out this edit from his 2013 Divisionals performance.