The Outdoor Show has been around for many years in a variety of different forms. The Skymasters Competitions at the Birmingham NEC became something of legend, a spectacle for the masses unlike any competition that had come before it. In recent years things had scaled down at the show and the move to ExCel in London in 2012 meant that the Skymasters was no more, but this year a new competition has risen its head to replace it - the Rab SuperBloc Masters.
As an invite only event this competition was designed to test the best, with problems set by the who's who of UK and international setting. In the words of the oganisers "Big Blocs, Big Prize, Big Names and a Big Atmosphere" and with a prize fund of £4,000, as well as a huge London audience, they certainly got what they asked for...
Qualifiers were unnecessary owing to each of the athletes having already been selected to compete, so it was straight into the Semi-Finals. Problems in both the men's and women's set were hard, with only three tops in the men's comp and not many more throughout the women's - even World No.2 Shauna Coxsey failed to flash one of the problems (!). Leah Crane appeared to be back on form after time-out with a shoulder injury, qualifying in 2nd place, and Emma Twyford re-kindled her competition career by tradding it up in 6th place (never have dynamic problems been climbed so statically). In the men's Dave Barrans, Jon Partridge and Nathan Phillips stood out simply because they were the only ones to top a problem. Cailean Harker, fresh from achieving 2nd place in the F-BO15 the week before was quoted saying "that was the worst 20 minutes of my life" - an accolade indeed...
In comparison the Finals were a much more hotly contested affair, with Shauna out front in the Women's and Dave Barrans in the Men's it was a fight for 2nd and 3rd place for the rest of the competitors. In the end Charlotte Garden put on a fine performance and came through in 2nd, followed by Emma Twyford who was surprised/delighted/astounded to finish in 3rd place. When asked whether this was her big competition come-back she simply said "Well I've been roped into CWIF now too! I don't think I'll be coming back to comps properly but it's the first time I've enjoyed a comp for a while and I think that was down to the cool problems and wall. I enjoyed having fun climbing with no pressure". In the Men's Nathan Phillips - perhaps unsurprisingly considering his recent form - finished in 2nd followed by Ben West in 3rd.
|1st||Dave Barrans||Shauna Coxsey|
|2nd||Nathan Phillips||Charlotte Garden|
|3rd||Ben West||Emma Twyford|
|4th||Tom Newman||Leah Crane|
|5th||Jon Partridge||Molly Thompson-Smith|
|6th||Caliean Harker||Rachel Carr|
However, The Outdoor Show wasn't just about the SuperBloc: DMM were there in full-force, as were the BMC, Jottnar, Five Ten, Beta Climbing Designs, CAC, Brunton, Primus and many more... The DMM Climbing Village had a range of things going on from instructional courses with the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, laser-etching personalised carabiners, equipment testing and even have-a-go carabiner assembly - there may have been the odd product on sale too... Jottnar presented some of the latest pieces from the range, their stand seemed to generate a lot of interest amongst the gear enthusiasts as it was a rare chance to try on the products and speak to the designers.
And finally, last but not least, Rockfax were exhibiting their new Northern Limestone guide and (if you got there at a quiet moment) forthcoming Rockfax App - due out later this year. All in all there was significantly more going on for climbers than in previous years, let's hope this is built on for 2016!
The Outdoor Show is sponsored by: Five Ten, Beta Climbing Designs, CAC, Concept Distribution, DMM, Ellis Brigham, Entre-Prises, Guide Dogs for the Blind, James Lathams, Rab, The Arch Climbing Centre and UKClimbing.com, Jöttnar