The Lead season 2017 has had a very busy start with 4 competitions for the month of July. I felt very motivated and in shape this year so I was happy to have a couple competitions in a row.
My goal was to make it through to my very first final in a World Cup.
I’m so happy it happened in Chamonix ! I had been waiting for it for a while and I couldn’t dream of a better place for it to happen.
Enjoy this little mid-season recap !
My first Lead World Cup was back in 2011 when I was 16 years old and since then I participated at a lot of World Cups. During the first years, I focused more on the youth categories and the World Cups were rather a good experience.
In 2014, I started a 5 years program at UCL law school. In 2016, I succeeded my Bachelor degree (3 years). I found it pretty tough to combine these first 3 years with climbing. The busy days of classes and the exams in June before the start of the season were a limiting factor but I saw it as a challenge. In the end, I’m happy I could excel at University and still have some good results at World Cups.
But after my Bachelor degree, I wanted to achieve more in the climbing field ; however, I wanted to keep my good results at University too ! That’s why I deciced to split my 2 years of Master in 3 years. After one year, I can already say that it has been a real change in my training regime ! I can train much more, much better and in a more relaxed way. Waking up in the morning knowing you only have to train is a very different approach than when you have 8 hours of classes and then have to go training. But I like to have something besides climbing that is intellectually demanding as well and this year I feel I finally found the right balance. I have less classes but enough to feel intellectually stimulated and not too much so I can train harder and better.
I don’t have the feeling I’ve been training a lot more than last years, but I feel I have been training much better : more conscious of what I’m doing. I’ve also started training my general physical preparation with Moovia, a belgian sport and physio center, which has improved my body’s stability, physical weaknesses, overall balance,… and I’m very thankful they have been so much supportive and implicated in the process. I’m also motivated for the many upcoming trainings in their new training center !
Lead season 2017
This years’ first lead competition was the European Lead Championship in Campitello di Fassa, Italy. I was very nervous for this competition because I didn’t know what to expect but when I finally had to climb, I just wanted to enjoy my climbing. Through the competition, I had very good climbing sensations and in the end I was disappointed with the result (11th place) because I slipped in the semi-final and couldn’t show my best. But I decided to only keep the positive out of this competition : I felt strong, I had good sensations when climbing and I was mentally ready. I just needed to be patient !
Congratulations to Anak Verhoeven for claiming the European Lead title and to Heloise Doumont for her 11th place. Belgian power !
The first World Cup was held only a week later in Villars, Switzerland. I was still feeling in good shape but I fell at a bouldery move in the semi-final. I was really disappointed because I couldn’t express myself again in the route. But I decided to stay confident for the next competition : Chamonix, only 3 days later ! Once again, I only kept the positive out of the competition and I learned I had to be more confident especially during movements out of my comfort zone.
Watch the replay of the semi-final here :
Replay of the finals here :
Turn the sound on if you want to hear me co-commentate with Charlie (Turn it off if you don’t like my voice, haha).
A few days later we drove to Chamonix for the second stage of the Lead World Cup. The evening before the qualifications we had the opening ceremony and the 4 routes (2 for men, 2 for women) were already set on the wall. It’s funny because we couldn’t really say at that moment which route would be for the men or the women, they all seemed to be rather easy. And we were right, the routes were too easy ! I’ve never seen so many tops in qualifications. It was crazy and pretty stressful as competitor because you were not allowed to make any mistake (a slip for example). In this kind of situation, I try to focus on the routes and to forget as much as possible about the obligation to top both routes to make it to the semi-finals. I was reliefed I didn’t slip and could top both routes… together with 21 other climbers !
The semi-final was on that same day in the evening. This makes it a long and exhausting day but I have to say I really prefer climbing in the evening, the ambiance is so much better ! I was very excited to climb and the route was very appealing : pretty long and powerful. There was even a little jump at the start of the route, which wasn’t really hard but made it cool to watch for the crowd. After a tricky move with an undercling in the middle were a lot of climbers fell, the route got a bit more classic and pumpy. I had a really great fight and fell at two moves from the top. I was really happy because I had finally the feeling I gave all I had and could show my best. I didn’t know if it would be enough for finals as there were still a lot of climbers to go but in the end I was 2nd ex-aequo ! I couldn’t believe I was going to climb my first final the next day in this incredible place of Chamonix and in front of one of the biggest crowds in climbing World Cups. Too much excitement !
I’m also very thankful for all the messages I received and all the support !
On my way to the finals, I had a lot of different feelings : I was relieved to finally be in finals ; I was excited to climb ; I was nervous because I didn’t want to mess up ; …
I climbed in 6th position in the finals. After observation, I can’t really say the route looked easy. But as we were right behind the wall waiting for our turn to climb, I could hear everything. So I heard the route got topped by Romain right away and then also by Yuki and Marcello. It was a very weird situation for me. I just wanted to enjoy my first finals but I started thinking maybe I should climb fast because I was tied with two other climbers and if I also topped, time would decide the podium. But was it really that easy ?
In the end, I decided to do like I always do : focus on the route and the moves, nothing else. The route didn’t feel super hard and I was quiete surprised by how good some holds actually were. I’m not saying the route was easy (there were still 4 falls), but it was not hard enough for sure. I fell at the very last tricky move which wasn’t really physical but it requiered commitment. I can’t really explain why I fell. I had the feeling I couldn’t push on my foot anymore, by exhaustion, fear to slip or fear to top ? I don’t know. I just know I had a great time climbing in finals and I’m happy I could climb well although it was an unusual situation for me.It was also fun to join Anak from the Belgian Team in the finals but unfortunately also the womens’ route was too easy…
Congratulations to Marcello Bombardi for his first final AND World Cup victory (how crazy is that ?)!
The third stage of the Lead World Cup took place in Briançon. This was the 4th competition of the month and I could feel I was still in good shape but mentally a bit tired. The routes were very different from previous competitions with some hard routes in qualifications and pretty basic endurance moves.
The semi-final was very cool to climb but a bit easy until the last few moves. Because of that the results were decided based on a couple of moves. I fell too early in that sequence and ended up 15th. I had the feeling I climbed well but I didn’t fight at the last move. That’s something I’m very motivated to train on for the next competitions. I often climb easily through the route and then struggle to fight when a hard sequence appears.
Replay of the semi-final : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLmKUrqa5PI&t=1390s
A valuable learning experience
This month of July has taught me a lot about competition climbing and how to learn from failure and success.
It makes me think abouta quote I’ve recently read that says « sometimes you win, sometimes you learn ». I think it’s true that when you fail, you can actually learn a lot about what went wrong (and well). But I think that when you win, you can also learn a lot about why it actually worked out and what can go even better. So let me rephrase the sentence : « sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but ALWAYS YOU LEARN ».
Thanks for the reading !
I will try to get my website a bit more often updated so the articles don’t get too long !
Current ranking in the Lead World Cup 2017 : 10th.
Next competition : Bouldering World Cup in Munich (18-19th of August)
Next Lead World Cup : Arco (25-26th of August)
Stay tuned :-)