The 2016 season has started!

So we’re in Tokyo. It’s totally crazy. We’ve been running around the city since we got here; sight seeing, eating yummy food and checking out the climbing gyms. I haven’t really found the time to get any words down about the World Cup last weekend until now. I think I am still processing it. Winning a World Cup is so very surreal. Winning the first one of the season was pretty insane.

I spent the winter training hard with my coach, Mark Glennie. Mark and I have been working together for some time now, he’s done well to put up with me! Over this past season of training I have learnt so much and made so many gains. I seem to every year but this year everything just felt like it was working better than ever. Leah Crane joined us and having her around made a huge difference to training! I’m not the biggest fan of training alone and having someone with so much enthusiasm and energy makes training way more fun and it really helps on those days when my motivation is lacking. Our Acroyoga antics also made every session totally hilarious and I am pretty sure my core got stronger from the amount of laughing that we did.

In the build up to the first World Cup in Switzerland I had a lot going on. I felt quite distracted and the competition seemed to totally creep up on me. I knew I was fit and strong and I felt like I was climbing well but I hadn’t really thought much about how I might do. It’s impossible at the start of the season to know where you’ll be at. Everyone goes away and trains and comes back stronger and that was very evident after the women’s qualification round.

The competition was held in Meiringen, a quaint little town surrounded by the incredibly beautiful Swiss Alps. The town, Meiringen, appears in one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Conan Doyle and it definitely loves it’s association with the famous novels. Our hotel was called, Das Sherlock Holmes Hotel which was just up the road from the Sherlock Lounge, nearby the statue of Sherlock himself and around the corner from the Adler Hotel. Our hotel even had Sherlocks face all over the carpet!

It feels like so long ago now that Leah and I were walking down the road to watch the men’s qualification. although I can remember the boulders well. They looked hard! With only 2 tops you could make it through to semi finals. Dave Barrans and Tyler Landman both climbed really well and earned a place in the semi final. The women’s qualification on the other hand was a little different. It really seems like the women’s field has stepped it up this year. I managed to top all five of my qualification boulders and ended up 3rd in my group. Michaela and Leah both topped all of their boulders ( they were in the other group to me) and they easily qualified for the semi final so there were 5 GB team members through.

Semi finals were interesting. The first two boulders for the women both only had two tops each, none of which were by me. They are tricky and a little odd. I managed to scrape my way into finals in 6th place by topping the last two boulders in three attempts. I didn’t see any of the men’s semi finals at all but I was psyched to hear that Tyler would be joining me in the final! He’d only gone and won the semi-final round!

I was pleased that I’d made it though to the final. I was excited to climb again. As I qualified in 6th place this meant that I would be climbing first. We were taken from the warm up area to the isolation zone behind the wall. The sun was hitting the glass panels and turning the room into a toasty sauna. It was so hot. I felt a little flustered when we returned from presentation and viewing. You don’t get long to get your climbing shoes on and get back out on the mat for your attempt when you climb first. After all it would be rude to keep the crowd waiting!

The first climb looked a little bit confusing. Lots of volumes up a steep section of wall. I thought I knew how to do it but my first attempt proved that I didn’t quite have the beta right. I pulled on for my second go unsure of what to do but after some faffing I figured it out. It was a little too late and it would be on my third try that I made it to the top. I returned to the isolation zone behind the wall very happy but very hot. Thankfully we were allowed to step outside. The contrast was so extreme. Inside you could feel the rumbling of the music and feel the intensity of the crowd as they so passionately encouraged the climbers, the heat was overwhelming and all of the finalists sat straight faced, focused and serious. Outside there was a blissful breeze that weaved its way through the huge grassy meadow right before me, the backdrop of snow topped mountains and powerful waterfalls looked like something out of a fairytale and to top it off the sun was starting to set, blasting powerful orange and red streaks into the crisp blue sky.

I honestly couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my time between the boulder problems. It was breathtaking! When the time came for me to head out to my second boulder I felt calm and relaxed. Maybe this is what helped me flash it. I felt as if some outside force was keeping me on the wall. I have no idea how I didn’t fall off the mantle at the end of problem two! Again, coming out to the third boulder I felt content. I liked the look of this one. It looked meaty with a tricky deadpoint last move. I hit all the holds perfectly, reaching the top on my first attempt. Unfortunately I would have no such luck on the final boulder and so it happened neither would any of the other women as not one of us reached the bonus hold.

I wasn’t sure of the result afterwards. I thought I’d done well to top 3 as they seemed to be quite hard and I knew none of us had managed the last one. It wasn’t until chatting to the other girls when the comp had finished that I realised I had won. We then had to remain behind the wall until after the opening of the medal ceremony was complete. It was strange to feel so happy and not get to share it with anyone. It wasn’t too long before I could see my coach and team mates though, however, shortly after I was whisked off to doping control. Leah and Dave won some massive brownie points as they headed to the restaurant and ordered us food which arrived just as we got to the restaurant. The very next morning we were up and off to the airport for the epic journey to Tokyo. I’ll tell you all about this place in my next post.

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