Monday, August 11, 2014

Psicobloc 2014

When talk first began of taking a long-weekend trip to Utah, it seemed in the oh-so-very-distant future, but as it is with summer, time moves all too quickly and before we knew it, Psicobloc Masters Series weekend was upon us.

"What is Psicobloc?" you ask.  Well, it's a rather unique competitive climbing event, one that involves bouldering on a 55 foot wall above a body of water to reach the top as quickly as possible. Though the concept of deepwater soloing is something typically reserved for places like Mallorca, Spain, the founders of this event made use of the ski jumping pool at the Utah Olympic Park and brought it to the US last year.  Brian and I were unable to attend the inaugural competition as we were celebrating our friend Matt's wedding back in Wisconsin, but this year, we were all in!

Brian and I arrived in Park City on Wednesday evening, much later than anticipated thanks to an unexplained delayed departure from DIA.  We spent longer on the runway than we did in the air, and that isn't an exaggeration.  Aside from a few hours we spent at the Outdoor Retailer, OR, show in Salt Lake City (think: the giant pavilion at State Fair filled with everything outdoor industry related and no purchasing), the majority of our time was spent at the venue. Both of us were there to work with our friends from Louder Than Eleven, which was exciting for me. Not only was I happy to help out our friends Jon and Jordan (Jen and Josh, too),  I was excited to again have the chance to be with Brian during one of his commentating gigs.  This time, as I was part of the team, I also got to listen in live.  My role, monitoring the chatroom and entering scores, was a small one compared to Brian's impressively daunting job, commentating the finals, which was aired live.  I think we both did alright though :)

the wall 

When we got to the venue on Thursday, Brian was wide-eyed.  It was easy to tell he couldn't wait for his time on the wall.  Call it research or call it being obsessed with climbing, but there was no way that man was leaving Park City without his turn.  And while he would have to wait until Friday morning, but he gave us quite the show (and scream) when his time came.  That evening, during the seeding round of the competition, it was practice broadcast time.  Brian and his co-host, Chris Weidner, had to brave the cold that we were avoiding in the broadcast booth, but they made it through without appearing too cold or allowing their teeth to chatter too loudly.  The event coordinators took pity on them and gave them comp. swag, Psicobloc beanies.  Everyone was certain, at that point, that Friday was going to be great -- and a lot of fun.

Friday morning was our date with OR, and after that Brian's date with the wall.  Brian had been before, but this was my first OR experience, and I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  There was a lot to see and very little that I didn't want to peruse.  I guess that is the benefit of going to an event catered entirely to something you enjoy (there was even an Ugg booth).  I was able to meet a few people who I've been wanting to meet for some time, but I did have one disappointment.  I wasn't able to get one-on-one time with Whisper, the cutest dog in climbing.  She even had a movie premiering at OR, so this dog is the real deal -- and she is tiny, and she has spots, and she loves to be carried around.  She's meant to be mine, I just know it.
I'm obsessed with this dog, Whisper, and really wanted to see her movie premier.  I couldn't because our flight was delayed, but I did see her at OR and we made eye contact, and it was magical! 
After OR and lunch, we headed back to the venue so Brian could try out the wall.   From the outset, it was easy to see that he was loving it.  Despite the scream after his first dismount, Brian gave the wall one more test-run before getting into commentator mode, and before we knew it, it was time for sound-checks and dry runs of intros, outros and everything in between. Flawlessly concealing any nerves or frustrations, and I'm sure there were plenty of both considering the size of this job, the team got right to work and the broadcast was up and running at 7pm that night. When we finally left for our condo after midnight, everyone was exhausted.  We saved just enough energy to stop by a post-comp party and then called it a night (or rather an early morning).

ClimbingNarc with the dismount
For claiming his bones aren't made for swimming or floating, and for having to do so in climbing shoes, he made it to the side of the pool with relative ease. Good thing because I didn't want to have to jump in to save him. 
ClimbingNarc mid interview
Photo credit: my mom

As for Brian, I cannot begin to express how impressively natural he seems at something so unnatural - talking to people who aren't directly in front of you, thinking of something to say about everything that is happening, and finding topics to discuss to prevent silent airtime.   While Brian isn't one to say anything he doesn't mean, he seems to think that other must.  After each compliment he received for a job well done, he would ask if he actually did a good job - he is indeed a humble man.  He certainly loves sharing his passion for climbing with others, and he does love to talk about his favorite of all things, so this gig is a perfect one for him.  Congrats, buddy.  I hope you enjoyed this all and your splash into the pool.

the dreamiest guy in all of sports broadcasting

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