Boulder 3: lessons learned

Picture:Brigitte Wieles


Almost fully recovered from my right shoulder injury (partially torn AC ligament), I was happy to participate at the third qualification round for the Dutch Championships. The competition took place at a new boulder gym in Rotterdam called Bolder. My first impression: super impressive! One massive boulder block in the middle with some awesome holds (new to me) and I saw the qualification boulder problems with some pretty intimidating heights.


We arrived early, so I had some time to read the problems. I wasn’t sure about some sequences, but fortunately the qualification round is flash. So I could watch some others, before giving it a try. All of the problems were pretty nice, except one (just my opinion ;)). The format is: 7 problems with a maximum of 5 tries each. I flashed my first one, a tricky climb with a reachy last move. A bunch of others started in an overhanging problem. It didn’t look very hard, so after a quick warm up in an overhanging wall I gave it a try. It turned out that one move was harder than I thought. I fell after the bonus hold. Luckily I finished the boulder in my third go. I decided to climb the problem left of it, another overhang with some smaller crimps on it. Got some beta from others and flashed it. Nice, it was going pretty good. Better than expected. Next, a yellow problem with some nice rounded volumes. Flash. Then I jumped over to a long blue bolder problem with big holds. The holds felt a little greasy, but I managed to flash it as well. After that I tried a red, crimpy problem. It looked really easy and it didn’t take me much effort getting to the second to last hold, but I missed that one. I saw many people fall at the last hold, so I decided to take a look at the other two problems. I saw someone climb the green problem in a corner. I looked awful. At first glance I already knew this wasn’t a good problem for me, it had a really hard shoulder move for the right. However, I tried it to make sure if my judgement was right. It was. Just .. bleuch 😀 I definitely didn’t want to waste my energy and shoulder on it. The last problem I had to climb was a purple, powerful problem. I tried it three times and got just one move away from the bonus. It was super rough on the fingers and I didn’t really believe I could do it. I informed if my 5 tops with 4 flashed would be enough to make it to finals and others thought it would.

Picture:Brigitte Wieles

Changed expectations

And it sure was. I placed second for finals! Sweet! I had no expectations, my only goal was to get some points in order to get qualified for the Dutch Championships. In advance I didn’t think I would make it to finals after 6 weeks of recovering. I knew I could use my shoulder, but I wasn’t sure how heavy the moves could be yet. Climbing routes is going well again, but I hadn’t been bouldering yet. The field was also pretty strong, so .. yeah I really didn’t have much expectations. 

But now it turned out I qualified really well, I got determined to try hard. Last competition I placed 1st for finals end I ended up 6th! That was a bummer. This was going through my head while waiting in the isolation (ffrrreezin’ cold!).


Final: lessons learned

While reading the finals problems, I wasn’t fully psyched and awake. I didn’t see the sequences and thought, well… I hope I know what to do when I get on it. The first problem was a technical, volume problem. Walking up some volumes, costing no strength at all, getting into more powerful moves to the end. The move to the last hold was pretty hard on the right shoulder. I didn’t go for it hard enough first try. Second try I did. It wasn’t good for my shoulder, but it didn’t hurt too much luckily. 

Picture: Syste van Slooten

The second boulder started with a crazy toe-hook. Every time I wanted to get up higher with my body, the toe-hook got loose. Pretty frustrating. It turned out to be a hard boulder. The only one who made it was Vera Zijlstra, with a different, very powerful beta. 

Picture: Syste van Slooten


The third problem started with a dyno. Took me a few tries to stick it. After that the holds got very difficult. I couldn’t hold it and fell hard, dizzy. 

Picture: Syste van Slooten


Back in isolation I didn’t know what my ranking would be at that point in competition. Vera knew that I would get second place if I would top the last problem. It all came down to that problem! It made me pretty psyched. I also knew I didn’t have to flash it and it should be the easiest problem according to Vera. I only had to do it. Uhm, yeah… and I didn’t! For some reason (foot placement I guess) I couldn’t get in the right position to go with my left hand to the hold on a volume. I decided to go with right and climbed my way up until a point where I had a hand/footmatch. I had to get loose with my body, but I couldn’t catch the weight in my right shoulder. I’m sure I could have make that move if my shoulder was a bit stronger. Anyhow, it wasn’t the right sequence anyway. Instead of keeping my second place, I ended up 6th (again)!


I was pretty disappointed afterwards. Getting 6th after a good qualifying round and a pretty good final as well. I got pretty frustrated by myself that I messed up in the easier problem.
It’s kind of funny. At first my only goal was to get some points, not even believing I could make it to finals. Then I was just happy to be at finals. And afterwards I wasn’t happy at all because it really felt as a big loss. Crazy how expectations can change in just a couple of hours.  
Now, one day later, I see it as a big learning thing. It’s more than clear that I have to work hard on my reading skills. So, I’ll definitely have to do more bouldering next to my climbing and make it every time a competition for myself. It’s funny, because the commentator, Joost Hofman, introduced me as the girl who ended up 5th in 2010, 4th in 2011, 3rd in 2013 and therefore I have to get 2nd place at this year championships. 

I will train my weaknesses hard coming two months and try to break the circle of my last two competitions (placing high, ending low)! And of course I will try to get that second place!!!


Watch me climbing the final problems


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