Q and A with Taylor Clarkin - Winner of 2008 World Youth Speed Climbing Championships


Taylor on the podium at the ’08 World Youth Championships. Photo by Kim Birch.


Congratulations to Taylor Clarkin for winning the 2008 IFSC world youth speed climbing championships hosted August 28-31, 2008 in Sydney, Australia. As reigning US Youth National Speed Climbing Champion in her age group (Female Youth B :14-15yr), she secured a spot on the ’08 US youth national climbing team. She was the only American competitor amongst the 45 member US youth national team to bring home the Gold this year. Taylor is a member of the AZR ‘Ascenders’ – head coached by Joe Czerwinski. She has been a regular participant in TF youth performance training camps for the past 3 years and has won both peer-elected and coach-elected MVP awards at the multi-day training events. Following, is an in-depth interview with the rising power house. Stats:Hometown: Scottsdale, AZAge: 14Height: 5’3’‘Weight: 95 Ape Index (arm-span): -2Coach: Joe CzerwinskiTraining Facility: AZR-Scottsdale, AZFavorite Food: “Sushi”Least Favorite Food: “Pad Thai”Favorite Beverage: “Cream soda”Favorite Book: “Twilight”Favorite Music: “3 days grace, Paramore”Favorite Movie: “Disturbia, Prom Night, Superbad”Favorite school subject: “Math”Favorite Crags: “The Gunks”Least favorite school subject: (don’t worry, we won’t report it to your teachers) “Social Studies”Favorite climbing competition discipline: “Speed”

Taylor training with her coach, Joe Czerwinski, at Priest Draw, AZ. Photo courtesy of the Clarkin Family.


Who are your female role models in climbing?Taylor: “Tori Allen & Lynn Hill.” How did you start climbing?Taylor: “At AZR, 4 years ago with my dad.” What do you like most about climbing?Taylor: “All the people are amazing.” What do you like least about climbing?Taylor: “The chalk” What do you like most about competition?Taylor: “Pushing yourself as far as you can go.” What do you like least about competition?Taylor: “The pressure” Describe your coach, Joe Czerwinski as a person:Taylor: “Joe is enthusiastic and very supportive. He is a very good trainer and a beastly climber. He helps push us all very far and gets us to where we are now.” Do you feel that strength and conditioning training are crucial to your level of success in speed climbing? Taylor: “Yes, because you need to have very strong legs and arms, and quick reaction times. You also need stamina for tall walls.” What other aspects of training do you feel are crucial to your performance?Taylor: “Just climbing a lot so you can get your technique and style down.” What do you like most about training?Taylor: “Knowing that it makes you stronger.” What do you like least about training?Taylor: “It is very time consuming, so I don’t get as much time to be climbing or with my friends or family.” How often do you climb outside of structured team training with the Ascenders?“About 3 more days a week for about 2-4 hours.”Did you expect to perform so well at the ’08 youth world championships?Taylor: “No, my goal was to make the top 8, which I thought would be difficult but i could do it. It never occurred to me that I could do any better than that.” How did you train for the event?Taylor: “I did lots of laps on the speed routes at AZR. I also did loads of frog jumps, pull ups, and start drills.” How did you prepare yourself mentally for the event?Taylor: “I just told myself that I was just as good as anyone else there, and that all I could do was my best. I also was constantly listening to songs on my Ipod to get me pumped up.”

Taylor winning ’08 World Youth Speed Climbing Championships. Photo courtesy of Image Display Creations.


Describe the speed route (angle, length, movement type, panel type).Taylor: “It was a 50 foot wall that was slightly textured and perfectly straight. The climb was about 5.9 and was a combination of dynamic two handed jumps, and hand foot matching ladder like style.” Who did you go against in the final round?Taylor: “Francesca Metcalf, from the USA.” Which round/against whom was your closest contest throughout the event?Taylor: “The Semi-final round when I raced a girl from Russia. I was in 12th and she was in 5th.” Did you make any mistakes at any point throughout the event?Taylor: “Yes, especially in qualifiers. I thought I could jump to the buzzer from a lower hold than I could, and had to catch myself when I missed so I wouldn’t fall off the wall, I lost a lot of time there.” In which round was your fastest time/what was your time?Taylor: “My fasted route was the first route at finals. My time was 10.7 seconds.” Do you remember what was going through your mind during your final run?Taylor: “I was kinda shocked that I was in the race for first because I had surpassed my goal by so much, I was also just focused on the climb and not the other person.” How will this accomplishment change your view of yourself as a person and a climber?Taylor: “It makes me believe that I can accomplish my goals, no matter how difficult they may seem.” How has this accomplishment influenced your motivation and relationship with climbing?Taylor: “It makes me feel more motivated and just makes me want to climb more.” Are you aware of the fact that you have become one of only a dozen Americans (including adults) ever to have won an international climbing event? Taylor: “I actually didnt know until you told me on the phone. I was really surprised and it’s hard to imagine that it’s actually true.” Does your recent performance change how you see yourself in a leadership position on your team and as a role model for your teammates? Taylor: “No, can’t imagine myself as a role model because I try just as hard as the next committed youth climber, we all give 100%.” Was this recent trip to Australia your longest air travel?Taylor: “yes, 15 hours!” Which foreign countries have you visited?Taylor: “Ecudaor and Mexico.” How old were you when you got your passport?Taylor: “13” Which country would you most like to visit?Taylor: “France and Italy.” Do you speak/study any foreign languages?Taylor: “Spanish”

Taylor experiencing peace on the rock in Arizona. Photo courtesy of the Clarkin Family.


What other interests do you have outside of climbing?Taylor: “Cheer and Horseback Riding.” Did you watch the 2008 Olympics in China?Taylor: “Yes” Which events were your favorite?Taylor: “Gymnastics and Track.” Which athletes are your role models in those other sports?Taylor: “Shawn Jonson” What are your climbing goals for the upcoming competition season?Taylor: “To train hard and do my best.” What are your climbing goals on rock?Taylor: “To send some hard stuff at Priest Draw and the ‘Gunks’.” What do your parents think of climbing?Taylor: “They think it’s given me a lot of confidence that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” What do you want to be when you grow up?Taylor: “Some kind of doctor, like an anesthesiologist.”Anything else you’d like to share?Taylor: “I’ve gotten so much out of climbing. I’ve met some of my best friends through it and had experiences of a lifetime. More kids should get involved in climbing because they would really enjoy it. Also, climbing is supposed to be an exhibition sport in the 2012 Olympics.” Hopefully we’ll see you there!