Sorry it’s taken me so long to post again. I seem to spend my life either sat on an aeroplane or sat in a hotel room so I really don’t have a valid excuse for not getting my words out quicker. Time just seems to be going by so fast yet thinking back to when I last posted seems like months ago. But I guess we’ve really crammed a lot into the past two weeks.
From Switzerland we headed straight to Japan. I really liked Tokyo. It’s an incredible city. I feel like we squeezed so much into the short amount of time that we had there and yet I can’t help but feel sad that there is so much more that we did not get to see and do. I often feel a little cheated somehow by the lack of adventure when we travel for comps. We rarely get to see more then the hotel room and the climbing wall. That’s partly why we flew out to Tokyo straight after the World Cup Switzerland.
This was definitely a good decision! I had heard a lot about Japan and I was incredibly excited about visiting and it didn’t disappoint. In fact it exceeded every expectation I’d subconsciously set out in my mind. My favourite thing was probably the food and also the people. The whole feel to the country was so calm and relaxed. The people were always unbelievably willing to help some very confused tourists, often lost and desperately trying to figure out the public transport system. Which, by the way, is initially very challenging.
Apart from the transport it felt like we were constantly getting lucky in Tokyo. Everywhere we ate was incredible. On our first mission out from the hotel we stumbled upon probably the best coffee shop I’ve ever been to. We later discovered it was one of Tokyo’s finest. That evening we chose a random little restaurant full of locals and had some of the best food! We spent our time in the city sight-seeing, eating and climbing. A big thanks to both Base Camp and B-Pump for being so hospitable, in a true Japanese style!
We arrived in Kazo the night before the comp considerably later than we’d anticipated. Despite the many delays we encountered (not our fault this time) it was reasonably stress free. The next morning we had an early start. The girls were up first. I’m really not a morning person. I just love sleeping. However, getting up to head to a World Cup never feels that hard. We arrived at the venue to find a warm up wall that was, well, let us say challenging. I could reach the top from standing on the ground! I’d never even seen the competition wall before so I kinda felt like there was a sort of suspense and anticipation as I sat in the chair waiting to go out on my first boulder.
The qualifiers were a lot of fun! The wall turned out to be really cool – very much different to the warm up wall. It was high and multi-faceted. The hold selection was incredible and this combined with the route setters imaginations lead to some really fun boulders. Climbing on fun boulders just makes me so happy. I finished up the qualifying round with 5 tops, 4 flashes and one boulder on my third go. Leah and Micheala both easily qualified for the semi-finals. The mens qualification took place in the afternoon, their boulders looked cool but super hard. The mens field is such a jungle right now. With so many strong guys on the scene the route setters have got an epic undertaking! Ty and Nathan both put in strong performances. Ty managed to scrape through to the semi-final in 10th place in his group and Nathan missed out by just a few places.
Qualifying in first place for the semi-finals means you climb last. I really wish I could watch more when I’m at the comps. I love watching and cheering on my team mates and friends. I’d definitely rather be competing though! I was happy with my climbing in the semi-final despite only topping two of the four boulders. I flashed the first by worming my way out of a roof avoiding a tricky jump. The second boulder looked really cool and I’m still a little bit gutted I didn’t do it! Big moves on big volumes and big pinches up a steep wall. My left hand kept just firing off a volume. I so wish I could get back on that boulder! I flashed the third which was a tricky start where you had to get on board a volume and then leap for the top holds. The final boulder was a slab that seemed totally impossible to me. The holds were so gross: chalky and greasy at the same time. I wasn’t sure how to feel after the round. I was happy with my climbing but concerned that I’d only topped two boulders. However, I was pleased and a little relieved to learn that I’d qualified for the finals in first place.
At this comp we had an unusually short break between rounds. Leaving only two hours for lunch and some chill out time before heading back into isolation. This was a strange experience! We decided to just hang around at the venue and found a nice place out in the sunshine to mess around. Leah taught me a few more tricks to help me master hand stands, then we had a jumping competition (I lost) and then chatted to a lovely elderly gentleman whose English was limited but we understood that he was a big Liverpool fan.
I didn’t feel like I needed to warm up much for finals. I took my fingerboard back into iso and did a few hangs and then a couple of dynos and I was ready to go eagerly anticipating observation. I quite like that we get to see the final boulders before trying them. It does seem a bit odd and not in keeping with the format but I quite like the change. The boulders looked really cool and really quite hard. I climbed last. I sat in isolation behind the wall waiting for my turn to climb. I was pretty sure from the reactions of the crowd that no one had climbed the first boulder. It really did look hard. And it was. The final move was powerful and I had to fight hard for the flash! Number two was a different story. Most of the competitors returned quickly indicating swift success. I found this one the most challenging but eventually I somehow managed to ninja kick my way across the awkward volume, shuffle and finish it off. The third boulder was basic, small crimps up a not so steep section of the wall. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my finger strength over the training period and it sure feels like all of the Beastmaker sessions have paid off. I flashed the third boulder. The final boulder in finals looked super fun and it really was! I got a little lost on my way up but eventually climbed it on my first go. It felt like it took me a long time!
This whole competition was so much fun! After doping control I even got to watch the mens final! I was pretty psyched about this as like I said earlier I love watching. However, I am really not so sure that doing the male and female final separately is the best idea for the crowd…
We got to spend another two days in Japan before heading to China. We squeezed in a little bit more sight-seeing, lots more food and a climbing session before making the journey to Chongqing. Chongqing is so very different to Tokyo!