Once Grindelwald wrapped up, there was one week until the next World Cup in Innsbruck. Seb, Cedar and I headed north to Zurich where we were given an opportunity which shouldn’t go past: to train with the Swiss team and their head coach, Urs. My vow for the coming trainings was simply to jump, jump and jump again. My dedication to this promise was held 60% the first day which is really good by my standards. Our second training session was with Urs and his team so we followed their program which thankfully included enough jumps for my liking. Normally I climb a lot by myself which I know isn’t the best for pushing oneself and summoning a healthy competitive spirit, so this session with his team and Momoko Odo from Japan was very good for me. It forced me to try things outside my comfort zone, to see past some of my own beliefs about myself and also gave me a chance to see how others train.
Minimum Bouldering gym, Zurich
My second last time in Innsbruck was at the end of the comp season last year which was completely dreadful. It was a rainy day and my face looked the same. I walked into the market place for registration and recalled these old emotions. Everything was familiar yet, also different. This wasn’t the last comp and it wasn’t last year. It felt as though I was breathing in a bit of hope. Maybe it was just fresh mountain air but either way, I was less nervous about qualifiers. That said, I finished with a bit of hmmf.
The first problem went well but then it hit the fan. It would be a very good skill to be able to take a step back and breath in a moment of pause but perhaps I drank too much caffeinated tea for there was no slowing down for this bird. I was close on getting the bonus for the second problem which resulted in too many attempts meaning less quality with my effort. I felt the old familiar feeling of doubt run through my body. I opted to let it just be there while I tried to keep focused on the holds. It was heavy and cumbersome but I didn’t let it take me down to the depths of despair which was somewhat liberating. The next in line was a huge, ridiculous dyno. I walked away with half the time left, reasoning to myself that I was saving energy for the remaining two. I understand my running away but in retrospect, I won’t make that mistake of avoidance again. For the third, I didn’t think so clearly in terms of beta or anything else for that matter and fell into a narrow tunnel of the same beta over and over even though my mind had considered other options. Finally my hope lay on the last and final problem. It was a slab which was in my favor. But again, it required some coordination with legs and a long reach to a bulbous feature. After many attempts I finally got past the first hard move and edged towards the bonus only to be pulled off by the buzzer. God dam. So close and yet, so far…
In the back room I cursed my stupidity. The gentle Swedish climber reminded me that I had to see it as learning. It’s learning. Learning. LEARNING Thomo…!! An open mindset. Not closed. Yes, yes and yes, I agree. Oh what weeds I have in my garden… weeding and rewiring needed on an ongoing bases. I should attach an elastic band onto my wrist as a reminder… LEARNING..!
Finally, the essential feedback... It came from Lizzy Asher this time. She has climbed with me outside a few times and she straight out told me I am not trying hard enough. “I’ve seen you try hard Thomo, and you’re not trying…” This kind of bothered me as I really feel like I am trying hard but her truth was confirmed to me later. First by watching semis and finals. Those girls try so hard they slide off the holds fighting the whole way resulting in a violent fall straight onto their back. I never fall on my back in a comp..! Second, I went to magic wood after the comp to obsess over last year’s project where I continuously fell: straight onto my back…! The difference of not only my effort, but also my focus was clearly felt deep in my bones. Maybe rock climbing is just something I am more comfortable with but this realization only gives me more reason to try and summon this part of me in the high pressured situation of a competition. Maybe this is where the open mindset comes in. To see all this as lessons instead of failures, challenges instead of impossibilities. As I said before, weeding the garden, daily and by the minute. Still lots to learn and figure out but without this challenge, life may be rather dull.
Thanks for reading.
Ps. On a side note, I have started an Indiegogo campaign to help support my expenses for training and attending these competitions. Thanks to everyone for their help so far! Feel free to share my campaign! Thank you! Here is the link: Help support Thomo at the World Cups!
Sam giving the eye while Erica and Jelisa cheer on Seb