Last Saturday I participated for the second time in the Dutch Boulder Championship. The climbing gym ‘De Klimmuur Amsterdam’ (also named as Amsterdam Centraal) organised the competition this year and it was great! Nice ambiance, lots of food, impressive stage with overhanging walls and diverse puzzling boulderproblems.
Last year was the first time I competed, and at that time I had no expectations and preparations. This year was different however, I tried to prepare myself.
Two weeks before the championship I changed my lifestyle a little bit. First of all I decided to enhance my fitness with healthy food instead of my normal diet of beers, chips and pizzas! I noticed that vegetables, pastas and a lot of tea weren’t that bad at all. I also exercised my lower back and core every other day. Three days before the competition was my last climbing day and I was strong! I on-sighted powerful 7a+ and 7b climbing routes and that’s certainly not always the case. Three days later however, it felt the opposite.
Warming up in the isolation was very difficult. Stiffness, cold and I just didn’t get the flow I sometimes have. Usually at competitions I get some adrenaline which makes me climb very easy, so that was what I was waiting for. Unfortunately my climbing in the semi-finals didn’t feel good.
Problem #1 was a very easy problem (maybe 5 or easy 6?). I was focused and intended to top this problem in the first try. Half way I found out that I had to put my foot very high while remembering a movement of the World Cup Eindhoven. It was really cool to notice that I could analyse my movements while climbing. That’s an aspect that I try to teach myself, because I always climb without thinking. So I topped this problem.
Problem #2 made me really frustrated. I thought I had to jump with my right foot on the volume and my left hand on a low hold near my foot. It felt as an awful position and it was difficult to push hard with my right foot. Afterward I heard that the problem had a static solution, which I had thought about but didn’t feel possible at that moment. I think I tried to jump 15 times in problem #2, hopeless.
When I had to climb problem #3 I was pumped! The boulder was really cool, with a sloper for the right hand which was hard to stick while positioning your body. Two times I tried a dynamic solution, the third time I tried a high heel-hook which worked. I thought about the heel-hook before, but didn’t think I could do that on the difficult sloper. I was wrong but still couldn’t do the last move. I thought about turning my hand to push out, but decided not to try it due to a painful wrist. Besides I’m terrible in those types of movements so may not have succeeded anyway.
Problem #4 was my worst nightmare. To many holds whereby I had to find out by myself where to put my feet. That’s exactly my weakness which I have to work on. So once again I’m confronted with my inability to figure out the movements before trying it.
Despite my performance I unexpectedly qualified myself for the finals with 1t1 2z6. After hanging out in the sun and watching the exciting men’s semi-finals, I warmed up and started climbing the finals with renewed confidence.
Problem #1 I tried to toe-hook on a lower hold instead of heel-hooking on a big hold. I couldn’t find my balance to grasp a very small hold on the right.
Problem #2 had a really cool shoulder-movement but I couldn’t find a good position to complete the problem. Nikki van Bergen and Vera Zijlstra both used a different method (friction on the volume / high heel-hook on the left hand hold). Despite thinking of both options (which I’m glad of) I was lacking the confidence, strength or maybe something else to carry them out. I was convinced after those two problems that the third place would go to Rianne van der Berg because she finished problem #1 and Roelien van de Vrie and myself didn’t finish anything.
Totally unexpected I flashed problem 3#, even though i didn’t understand how to climb this problem beforehand. It was a funny boulder in which I had to find my balance to go to the last hold. The pain in my fingers was terrible after climbing this problem, because of a really small, crimpy right handhold. Suddenly the whole ranking changed and I was leading for the third place while Nikki and Vera where still competing for the first and second. While chatting with Rianne in the isolation I understood that the last problem would decide who was going to be 3rd.
Problem #4 was much more difficult then I had expected! Bummer. I didn’t even make it to the bonus hold. I was totally out of balance and couldn’t fix my body. I was extremely nervous while watching Rianne climbing problem #4. She was standing, waiting, positioning just before the bonus hold. But she had the same problem to get to the bonus. She congratulated me with the third place and I thought ‘wow, I’m third’! But we forgot one thing: that Roelien could flash this problem which would change everything. She did and that meant that Roelien and I both had 1t1 and 3z3. Roelien qualified above me in the semi-finals, so I finished fourth. A little bit of an anti-climax for me of course, but Roelien climbed a lot better overall on Saturday so totally deserved the 3th place.
Analyses of my preparations
The day after I went climbing and felt very strong, so what does that tell me? I’m curious and motivated to analyze my preparations and the results in order to use it for future comps, but that’s really difficult. I know that I need more experience to read problems better and should practice it more often. I’m not sure why I felt weak on Saturday. Could be that I should rest two days instead of three, could be that beers are not that bad after all, or perhaps the style of the problems were not my specialty. Maybe it’s a combination of this all and I’m really looking forward to adjust these things. It’s cool to have a goal, but now I have to find a little bit of discipline to get myself into problems that doesn’t fit me naturally. It’s always much more fun to climb the stuff that fits me perfectly so I don’t have to struggle and try over-and-over again. But I will try.
Thanks to Sytse van Slooten and Jorg Kemner for the great pictures.