This past weekend I was in Sheffield, England attending the Climbing Works International Festival, or CWIF for short. My friend Tiffany Melius told me about the competition before I left Canada, saying that it was a really fun World Cup style event in a great gym. So, I decided to head over there and check it out. Luckily, my coach in the regional team Urs Stöcker is also the coach of the Swiss National Team, and he was kind enough to let me travel and stay with the Swiss team.
The format of the CWIF has a little bit of everything – qualifiers are scramble format with 30 problems, 3 attempts allowed per problem, and 3.5 hours. Semifinals are 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off, for 4 problems, and finals is World Cup finals style.
During qualifiers, I was fairly nervous and didn’t climb my best. There were two or three problems that I didn’t get that I felt I could have, ones which involved mantels or slabs – which are not my strong suits. Despite this I was in a good position to make semifinals. Then on the last problem of the day, I pulled up onto a pocket and suddenly felt a searing pain all the way up my forearm. The pain persisted for quite a while even after jumping off, so I called it a day and tried in vain to massage out the pain.
The next morning, waking up for semifinals, the pain was worse. Just trying to close my hand sent daggers up my arm. I went into isolation for semis anyways, hoping that warming up would dull the pain. In isolation, the (fantastic) comp doctor examined it and taped it up for me, saying it was likely just a small muscle tear and to give warming up a whirl. Luckily for me this seemed to help – although mini jugs gave it grief, small crimps and open handed slopers seemed to be fine. Although I climbed in semifinals, there is a difference between just climbing and climbing well. Despite not having much tendon pain, I got only 3 of 4 bonus holds and didn’t manage to top any of the problems. Because of this I dropped from 10th to 18th in the rankings.
One Swiss team member did manage to make finals – Baptiste Ometz, a 16 year old two time European Youth Champion who was the only one to climb the slab problem in semis. Between watching him climb, and seeing Shauna Coxsey and Alex Megos send all of their respective finals problems with ease, finals was a great time.
Monday (after sadly being rained out of an attempt to climb on Gritstone) and Tuesday I returned to The Climbing Works with the Swiss team to climb. Thankfully the tendon pain that I had the day before had all but disappeared, and – knock on wood – has yet to reappear. Monday was a physically easier day, climbing mostly slabs, mantels, and that sort of thing. On Tuesday, all of the finals problems were up on the competition wall plus maybe 10 or so extra hard problems. There was a great variety of comp style problems from powerful overhangs to tricky slabs, and we spent the whole day training on them with members of the British team.
This whole weekend was a learning experience for me. Having taken nearly two years off of competitions, I feel like a relative beginner when it comes to big competitions again. So here are the things I feel like I learned this weekend that I did not know before:
Things I learned:
- I need to work on reading sequences (obvious hook in that problem? Let’s try a dyno instead.)
- I need to control my nerves/emotions at competitions
- A little more flexibility might be nice…I should stretch more often
- Don’t push hard on pockets at the end of a session!
I’m writing this sitting on the plane on my way home to Zürich. Every muscle in my body is tired, and my skin is sore, but I am really happy. Overall I had a fantastic weekend. It was not my best competition performance by any means, but it was a very valuable experience. I feel like I have come away from it with a much greater understanding of what I personally need to improve upon and train for in order to compete at a high level.
A huge thank you to my coach Urs for letting me travel, stay, and train with the Swiss team. It really was a great experience for me in so many ways. Also, thanks to the rest of the Swiss team for putting put with my attempts to understand (and occasionally speak) German!