Innsbruck

Wow. What can I say? I am so flipping happy about my results this year. I always dreamed of winning World Cups, never really thinking about it actually happening. I feel so lucky and fortunate to be where I am now. So many people have helped me along the way and I can’t thank every one enough for their support and encouragement!

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I have been asked so many times now what’s changed? Why are you doing so well this year? What’s different? I’ve been a professional climber for a number of years now and working with my coach, Mark, for the past four years. We made a long term plan way back when we started working together and he’s been keeping me on the straight and narrow ever since. We talked a lot about long term goals, about winning world cups and working towards a dream. Despite all of this I never really expected to be where I am now.

At the start of the 2016 World Cup season I was confident that I was stronger and fitter than previous years but I had no idea what to expect. It’s impossible to know exactly what the athletes get up to during the off season so going into the first round it’s quite exciting to see where you are at. I was ecstatic to start so well this year and totally didn’t expect to win the first three rounds. It all seemed to be happening so fast and even now it seems like a bit of a blur. When I didn’t make the final in India everything felt like it slowed down a little and I got the chance to get some perspective. There were many different things that had an impact on my performance in Mumbai but with only four days before the next World Cup in Austria, Innsbruck, I didn’t have that much time to process anything. Of course I thought about it and of course I was a little concerned about how the next event was going to go.

I love competing in Innsbruck. The whole atmosphere is just incredible. The crowd are always so passionate and knowledgeable. I didn’t get to compete at the event in Innsbruck last year due to injury so I was pretty excited to get back on the stage. The qualification round went really well. I flashed all of the boulders in my group as did Melissa and Janja. Micheala and Leah also made it through to the semi final. GB team athletes Dave Barrans and Nathan Philips also qualified and Ty Landman just missed out. The field was huge in Innsbruck and it was very exciting to have 5 team GB members in the semi final!

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First boulder in qualification

The semi final was more challenging for me. I had a bit of a bumpy start. The first boulder took me four tries and the second two tries. I knew that people were topping all of the boulders and that they were doing them fast. I thought my chances of making it to finals would be slim. After flashing the third boulder I felt like I was finding my flow albeit a little later than I could have liked. On the way back to iso I saw the score board. Anna had 4 tops in 8 attempts. Initially I felt a pang of sadness that I wouldn’t be climbing in finals. It wasn’t until I sat down and counted up my attempts on my fingers that I realised a flash might put me in joint 6th with Anna. All I had to do was flash the final boulder. No pressure eh!

I wanted to climb in the final, I really wanted to! I looked at the boulder, I wasn’t sure exactly how to climb it. It was one of those boulders you had to just get on and figure it out on the way. I took a deep breath and pulled on. I stayed calm and climbed deliberately. When I matched that last hold I was happy. Happy to have turned around my performance in the round and happy to have climbed all of the boulders. Making it to finals would be a bonus, a very big, exciting bonus, but I was pleased with my performance regardless.

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Final boulder in Semi Finals

Anna and I qualified in joint 6th place. I was so pleased that we both made it! Despite pretty much cutting it as fine as you can! We had the exact same score on every boulder and due to the split qualification round count back was not an option so we both got to climb in the final! And we sure were excited about it!

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This competition had the best boulders of any round this year in my opinion. I rate the Innsbruck World Cup very highly. I have big expectations for the event that always seem to be met! The boulders are always so much fun and enjoyable to climb on and this year was no different. I flashed three out of the four final boulders, the other I topped on my fifth attempt. Climbing on good boulders in front of that crowd, it really doesn’t get much better. I didn’t expect to take first place. Even when I finished the final boulder I had no clue.

Elias Holzknecht

Each time I stand on top of the podium I appreciate all of the support that has lead me to that point. I think about all of the time spent working towards goals that seemed so far away and the people who made me keep going no matter what. It may just be me stood up there but I represent every person who has helped me along the way.

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