Table of Content
After the first stop of the world cup in Meiringen – Switzerland, world cup now moved to a more distant destination – Salt Lake City (SLC), America.
The SLC hosted not just one but two consecutive bouldering world cups, which took place over the course of two weeks. First one from 21st-22nd and the second one from 28th-30th.
The journey took almost a day and we were happy to finally arrive at the hotel, have some food and get some rest. We arrived 4 days prior to the competition in order to adapt to the time zone. We used the extra days for 2 easier sessions in the local climbing gyms, discovering nearby restaurants, shops and the competition venue.
We had quite a few options for training while in SLC. There were multiple Momentum and Front climbing gyms scattered throughout the city. Nevertheless, the best option was the national team climbing gym, where we spent most of our time training. The gym really had everything a climber could wish for. From spray wall to the circuit of competition boulders, space for physio, fitness equipment and a small speed wall. All of that with the addition of the hype that all the other climbers brought. Basically, that made every session awesome!
This gym was also our designated warm-up zone for the competition.
Face masks were obligatory throughout the whole journey from Ljubljana to SLC, in the hotel, at the competition venue and in the climbing gyms. I can fairly say, that I already got used to wearing them most of the time. I will say though, that the mask is somewhat annoying when it’s hot. And that was the case here in SLC.
A negative PCR test was required for boarding the airplanes and before participating in each world cup. In total we did 4 PCR tests over the course of the journey.
First World Cup
With the days flying by, it was soon time for the first competition.
The qualifications took place on Friday, with women climbing in the morning and men in the afternoon. I’ve always enjoyed climbing in the morning more. I had less time to fill my head with unnecessary thoughts. That wasn’t the case this time, so I tried to think about competition as little as possible in the morning. It’s just about showing your best, doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. Later I took that exact mindset with me to the isolation zone, “Just don’t overthink things!”.
With isolation zone being divided into holding area and climbing area, I did my usual stretching and rolling routine in the holding area, so that I could efficiently use the time in the climbing area. I felt good that day and everything was going according to plan.
Headphones on and music banging. Just what I like to do as I move to the transit zone behind the competition wall. The goal of the day: “Focus only on the current problem and try to top it.”.
I finished the round with 4 tops and 5 zones, which put me in 10th place and safely through to the semi-final.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, because I was. Especially after my bad performance in Meiringen. Two years have passed since my last WC final and I still wasn’t sure if I was good enough. Luckily that feeling didn’t affect my performance this time and I had another chance to prove to myself that I am good enough.
The next day it was time for the semi-final. I felt great during my warm-up and I was psyched for my turn to start.
Coming in front of the first problem somehow completely killed my hype… it was a slab full of small footholds. To make things worse I tried the problem and couldn’t even reach the zone… “Time to rest and reset”, I said to myself.
The second problem was also not my favourite. Why? Because the starting foothold was a big completely plastic volume. Am I ice skating or climbing? Somehow, I managed to stick to the volume, reach the zone and shakily match the top. I was excited and that gave me a good boost for the last two problems.
My excitement quickly passed after finishing the last two problems. I fell once from the top on the 3rd problem and multiple times from the 4th. That gave me the impression, that I climbed poorly and I expected to finish somewhere around 15th place in the end.
Then the final results came in and I was in 5th place!!! What? It took me a minute to process that maybe I wasn’t the only one struggling with the problems. My goal was achieved and all that was left was to put on a show in the finals.
I still felt pressure before going into the final. For the first time in my life, I felt that I could actually compare to the best and I wanted to prove that on the mats.
The round started with a coordination slab in which I was on fire! Just thinking about topping that problem makes me shiver. That was a feeling worth training for!
Sadly, things went downhill from there. I only managed to get 2 more zones and finished in 5th place. I was more disappointed than in Meiringen, although that this time I was climbing in the finals… I really felt that I could do it and the fact that I didn’t deliver felt devastating. Luckily, I was cheered up by my team mates and went to get some pizza and a beer.
You can check the full results here: https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/calendar/?task=resultathletes&event=1192&result=3
Second World Cup
One whole week of training, shopping, sightseeing and relaxing later and we were all ready to put on our game faces. This time I was competing in the morning, “Hell yes!”.
I was back in the holding area doing my usual thing. Not a thing has changed apart from my confidence. I felt relaxed and ready. I thought to myself that no matter what problems are waiting outside, I can climb them.
However, my good mood was replaced by an uncomfortable stomach ache right before I left the holding area. Now this would be the moment where I would normally start to panic, lose all my confidence and start having doubts.
Not this time! This is what I said to myself: “Remember all those training sessions where you didn’t feel perfect. Well, you just needed a bit more time to warm-up and in the end, you did a great job. Just do the same in this situation!”.
That is exactly what I did. I did a few circuits more than usual to really get comfortable on the wall before starting to boulder. Eventually my stomach ache got better and I was able to climb with more confidence. With my mind still not 100% sure that I was ready I said to my team coach: “Hey, you know what I really don’t feel like I’m in the best shape today”. He replied: “What are you talking about, you are climbing really well!”. Getting that thought out of my head really cleared my mind and his words stayed with me throughout the round and I didn’t just climb good but great. I topped all 5 problems and finished in 3rd place after qualifications. Things were simply falling into place and I was making the right decisions all around. It’s hard to put this feeling into words but the best way to put it is: “Let the flow flow.”. Bring on the semi-final!
Back in the isolation zone I felt in my best shape and simply ready to crush. There was some pressure because I was starting towards the end and I knew it was all up to me, I was the one deciding if I advance into the next round or not. That was an unfamiliar feeling that I wasn’t used to.
Music, a short walk to the transit zone behind the wall, shoes on, chalk up and two deep breaths. I was ready to climb the 1st problem. I started my round with a flash! A huge motivation boost at the very start.
But then the wrong beta on 2nd problem turned things upside down. I figured out the correct method 30 seconds before the end and therefore failed to reach the zone. I didn’t know it at the time but I was already out of the final… I quickly reset and focused on the next one. I came out, took a look and another flash! I thought to myself: “I am back.”. I had a feeling that I have to top the last problem and maybe have a chance at the finals and set that as my goal. I barely slipped from the top on my second go and later desperately tried to do the same move multiple times. Sadly, without success. My goals quickly turned from climbing in finals to ending up in 16th place.
Despite not making the finals I was satisfied with my performance. I was one zone away from ending up in 8th place. So, in theory I wasn’t that far from the finals and I also felt confident while climbing. If I’ll be able to remember those feelings and use them at the next competition, everything is possible.
You can check the full results here: https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/calendar/?task=resultathletes&event=1190&result=3
Thoughts and lessons learned
Those of you who read my last blog probably noticed that I didn’t mention nutrition once. If you haven’t make sure to check it out here: BWC Meiringen 2021
Why? Since then, I had some revelations and not only on the subject of food. It’s crazy how my perspective on things has changed over the past few months and I’m hoping that some of you find this relatable and maybe apply it to your everyday life.
Let’s start with nutrition
Since Meiringen I made some necessary adjustments to my diet which allowed me to stop eating less and start eating more. It wasn’t easy at the start but over the course of two weeks I started embracing the change. I managed to convince myself that if I eat something outside my dietary restrictions it will not affect my overall performance. In fact, I later realised it did just the opposite. Loosening up my dietary restrictions caused me less stress, because I wasn’t thinking about what will I eat next, whether I can eat something, how much I have already eaten and so on…
Of course, it would be the best if you could have the minimal amount of body fat possible but we are not robots and sometimes it’s better to have a little bit of body fat if that makes you stress less in everyday life. I am the perfect example of that. I tried lots of different diets, some of stricter than others. Over the course of my dietary “testing” I got caught in the trap of thinking my climbing career solely depended on my diet. If I eat the wrong thing, my climbing will be worse. After I came back from America, a month had passed with my new dietary plan and I weighed less that before. I was amazed. Not only did I allow myself to eat a wider variety of food, it resulted in losing some weight. Now that I think about it, it actually makes sense. I was under a lot of stress before, because I was constantly worrying about food and my body went into conservation because that is the body’s natural reaction to prepare for more potential stress.
I had to learn that the hard way… but you don’t have to! I really want to get this out and hopefully reach as many people as possible. And if anyone has some additional questions you can reach me on my socials and hit me up in the comments below.
Since my 2019 season I’ve been struggling with regaining my confidence in competitions. Due to COVID-19 competitions became quite scarce, which meant that you really had to be focused to make the best of any that actually happened. My results weren’t bad, but I’ve always had high expectations for myself and I felt, that I was always “almost” there and never ‘’actually’’ there. Therefore, these two competitions in SLC were just the thing I needed, a much-needed confidence boost. Since coming back from SLC, training just feels more fun and productive. Overall, all things are currently moving in the right direction which just gives me more motivation to do things even better! I can finally dare to say, that I am ready to compete with the best and that it’s just a matter of time before I show that in the competition. It seems that the pandemic is also slowly starting to have less of an impact on the world cup circuit, which means more competitions coming up in the future!
Enjoying life more
I can say that now that I’ve dealt with some of my “problems”, I’m generally happier and more satisfied with my everyday life. I feel more relaxed during training and that only makes climbing sessions more productive and fun. I’ve always lived by so many rules and it feels damn good to let go of some of them. I’m ready to keep this feeling going and I’m definitely excited about what’s coming next.