Friday, 10 May 2019

Finding my feet on the World Cup Circuit


Finding my feet on the World Cup Circuit

As many of you will know my schedule has been rather busy lately as I’ve been competing in my first ever Boulder World Cup season! As a result, this is m
y first post in a while, but I’ll keep it short to give a quick insight into my experience so far.
Last year I represented GB in a couple of Lead World Cups but as I was still a junior, my season was focussed on the junior comps. Now, having stepped up into the seniors, all my training is orientated towards those comps and I have had the chance to try my hand at the bouldering circuit. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, having watched many a live-stream where the athletes leap around in a more parkour style than what I thought of as ‘climbing’. This comp style has never been my forte; I’ve always been stronger at the basic, board-style problems. However, I have learnt so much already from this season that I’m psyched to work on my biggest weaknesses-dynamic movement and coordination.
My first event was Moscow and I went to this with no particular expectations; I simply wanted to have fun and come away knowing that I had given it my best shot. I enjoyed the boulders as they varied in style so the most successful athletes were also the most well-rounded. I came away happy with how I had climbed (two tops and a last move dropped) but more importantly motivated to put what I had learnt into practice at the next World Cups. After reflecting on my mistakes, I concluded that my main point for improvement was to spend more time reading the problems and less time trying them. I had become over-excited on some of the blocks and spent the 5 minutes throwing myself at the wall, hoping that the right beta would come to me on the wall. This meant that I wasn’t resting enough and was taking too many attempts to achieve tops and zones.
Literally 'finding my feet' at the World Cup in Moscow (photo by Sergei Komlev)
A week at home was barely enough time to make real gains in terms of strength and fitness, but I was able to mentally prepare for the next two comps in China. The first comp in Chongqing was my best result; a 27th place finish in a field of almost 100 was enough to give me World Cup ranking points and almost enough to put me in semis. I climbed with good composure and was careful about using my attempts wisely. The problems generally suited my style (they tended to reward good static strength on tiny crimps) so I was able to top 3, which was a nice confidence boost.
Moving on to the next event in Wujiang, the style of boulders changed completely. The set was far more dynamic and relied much more on leg power (something I lack!). I finished the comp hot and sweaty and feeling rather defeated with only one top. I had thought after Chongqing that I would be able to keep improving with every round. However, after reflecting on my performance it became clear to me that I could not just rely on my strengths to get me through the comps. In order to be the best, you have to be the best at everything, because the setters constantly change the style of blocks and at such a high level of competition, you need to be able to adapt with the style.
Overall I am glad that I had one comp which played to my strengths as this gave me the belief that I can do well at this level and that I had one comp where I got shut down. Wujiang highlighted just how polarised my strengths and weaknesses are and was a valuable lesson in continuing to try hard, even when the going is tough. This has left me excited for my last Boulder World Cup this season in Munich next week. Whatever the result, I want to try hard and have fun!