With the 2016 Alberta Youth and Open Bouldering Provincials taking place this weekend at the Calgary Climbing Centre, we thought it best to check in with a rising entity in the the Alberta climbing scene, Samuel Tucker. Sam Tucker is 23 years old and lives in Calgary, AB. He started climbing when he was nine years old and hasn’t looked back since. Now a regular part of the Western Canada competition scene, Sam has decided that this year he is willing to give all his focus to training and becoming a better all around climber. In this interview, we sit down with Sam and talk about his early influences in the Calgary climbing scene and where he sees himself going as a climbing, a coach, and as a person. Here is what he had to say.
Hi Sam, How are you feeling going into this weekend?
I’m feeling solid. Definitely not at my best. But I took a few weeks off of plastic training and chilled in Bishop for a while so im feeling refreshed and pretty good in the mental department.
What have you been doing to prepare for this weekend’s event?
I have mainly been focusing on a huge volume or really hard moves. I have some old finger injuries that have kept me off the campus board and other apparatus like it. My sessions usually last for 4-5 hours and spend time on all sorts of terrain. I feel like i have been having more trouble with my head game than any sort of physical short-coming this year, so lots of mental prep as well.
You have been climbing for a long time despite being 23. How did you get into climbing and how has the scene changed since then?
Ya, its been quite a few. It all started at a summer camp at the CCC. I have been fully infatuated ever since. The scene has changed a lot. The most obvious of those changes being size. It is amazing how much growth our sport has seen. Another big change is the intensity. Competitions have in a lot of ways changed the extent people embrace the lifestyle of climbing.
Starting so young, you must build a strong bond with the climbers beside you throughout that time. Who do you still compete with and how close a relationship does competition climbing build between climbers?
I have made some really special connections over the years. Many of which have been with dudes I’ve competed against for the better part of my life. It’s cool how one minute you’re on the ground hanging out with one of your best friends, then the next, you’re competing fiercely and giving everything you have to kick their ass. Not to mention all the while they’re genuinely cheering for you, and probably happy that the beta they gave you worked, even if you beat them. I have known Evan Waugh through climbing comps since basically day one. Still, one of my tightest hombres. Through the years, I have met and become friends with some amazing people as a result of competing. You know who you are.
You are taking training more serious this year. What does that mean ‘more seriously’ to you and what kind of things have you incorporated into your training?
I figure if i don’t get serious now, when will I? I think the main thing that has changed is the big picture. I have always worked as hard as I can when I’m at the gym climbing but pursuing a sport in attempt to be a well rounded athlete is not the type of thing you can just clock in and out with. I have really tried to work general fitness, nutrition, and injury prevention this year. So far I have felt really good about that. The plan is to develop a great healthy foundation, and then train more strength.
I want to get into some specifics here to inspire others. What do you do for general fitness outside of climbing?
Other than climbing, I do cardio for sure. That never hurts. Usually, on a bike because I hate running. I do 3 hours/week of that and also just lots of rehab type stuff usually with the goal of improving posture and shoulder stability. I find that you can really never have enough core. There’s better ways to strengthen that than just sit-ups and other floor work. Try to work your way into a front lever. There’s lots of progressions into it. I have to keep training interesting!
How do you keep track of your nutrition and what rules dictate what you eat?
I actually don’t keep track of what I eat. But I try to eat lots of veggies, smaller portions of red meat, and just keeping all 4 food groups in the works. My diet is nothing fancy, but for the most part healthy and balanced. Really any improvement from the daily fast food is awesome for me. I have also been trying to supplement with protein and creatine. It’s been really awesome for recovery. Just don’t over do it on the creatine!!
Can you give us a favorite strength exercise that makes you love training?
I think my favourite strength exercise is dead hangs. I really like experimenting with different ways to put on finger strength while still nursing an old injury, It’s great to not have anything too aggressive or explosive in my training to have to worry about. I am always trying to find what works best in terms of dead hang cycles. I just finished one that Chris Webb Parsons came up with. I wasn’t a fan! The amount you can assist your hang is way too variable. I like to eliminate all of the uncontrolled variables if possible. But to bring it all into focus, finger hangs are really interesting to me because they seem to be the most scientific, and the results are generally the most eye opening! So if anyone has a sweet idea hit me up!
Calgary is a very tight community and growing up surrounded by a lot of people who take indoor climbing seriously must have its positives and negatives. How has the Calgary scene influenced you and what are you most grateful for being a part of it?
Everyone thinks their city has the best scene but really, calgary has the best scene! I was brought up on the youth competitive team Coached by Knut Rockne. That in itself is enough to be envious of. The Calgary Climbing Centre has an amazing youth program. I’d have to say that’s what I’m most grateful for. Calgary has balance to it as well. There is a pretty level amount of influence when it comes to comps vs. outdoor. I’m really excited to travel more and climb rock once this competition season is over.
For those who have never met Knut, what does he got that others don’t? How does he inspire people to do better?
I could go on for a while about Knut, so I’ll try and keep it short. He’s got SO MUCH passion! That in itself is inspiring. In combination with his passion, he’s brilliant. One of the smartest people I know. His brain works in a very unique way. The approach he has towards movement is phenomenal and it’s actually quite hard to nail. He can identify such microscopic ways to refine an athlete’s movement, and his compelling, charismatic ways to get those across are awesome. His energy and passion are huge driving forces in his athletes motivation and psych.
Where do you think your outdoor travels will take you?
I’d love to do a tour of Europe. Spain in particular. That’s #1 on the list. After that, I want to spend time in the rocklands. That place looks almost too good to be true.
Does a trip like Bishop open your eyes to the possibilities or do you miss plastic a little while you are there?
I actually didn’t miss plastic at all while I was gone. It was pretty eye opening. It sort of made it evident to me how far I really do have to go to get where I want to be.
You have stepped into the role of a coach in recent years. How has that affected your own climbing?
Being a coach has only shown me how important it is to have a coach. Or at least someone to bounce ideas off, and whose advice you value. There is no end to how much you can improve as a climber, and its easy to get trapped with your own ideas. Fresh input is a major key. Its also just a great way to pick apart movement. you can always ask yourself what you’d tell one of your athletes in a tough situation, or when you are having trouble on a move, your own advice/input isn’t so bad either (laughs).
Finally, what keeps you balanced outside of climbing?
Outside of climbing? Hmm, I’d say clothes. I love clothes (laughs)! It’s a shame that climbing and clothes don’t go a little more hand in hand. Trying to save for a trip while keeping a current wardrobe is tough! My amazing family And friends do a better job than any clothes out there though. I’m really really lucky to have the support system that I do.
Thanks for taking the time to talking to us Sanm and all the best for this weekend. Sam Tucker is sponsored by Flashed Climbing and the Calgary Climbing Centre.
The 2016 Alberta Youth and Open Bouldering Provincials will be held this weekend, January 16th and 17th 2016, at the Calgary Climbing Centre (Hanger Location). Be sure to stay tuned for the live stream of finals which will take place on Saturday!