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Munich World Championships 2005

article by Paul Brouard

‘How do you stay so calm’? asks the Australian competitor beside me. I’m competing in the World Climbing Championships held in Munich from the 1st to the 5th of July. The last minute invitation came from the UIAA via the MCSA as I was in the process of quitting my job at a climbing gym in Guildford – perfect timing really. The UIAA offered me 500 EUR to compete, sufficient to cover most of my expenses, so though I had done very little training for the event there was little question of whether or not to go.

The comment, by the wiry Australian women, is probably the funniest I’ve heard all day: I’ve had very little sleep and feel extremely shaky; I know I have the tunnel vision of the very nervous (I can’t think further than one hold ahead) and I wonder what obvious foothold, clip or rest I’m going to miss while climbing.

Observation time:
O.M.G. these routes are huge, I haven’t done anything longer than 12 moves or so in months [note how cleverly I sneak in my excuses] Do I bother with looking at the last moves? The competitors around me look manic, like people at the scene of an accident, so eager to see their fate. They gesticulate and bump into each other in their eagerness to see the routes, while asking their friends hurried questions about sequences and hold sizes. Some even have powerful binoculars. I try to stay above it and nonchalantly walk away form the crowd to scan the route from a distance: There are two qualifiers, Route 1 curves elegantly right before heading back up the main wall – I mustn’t forget the hold around the corner and the possible heel-hook rest. Route 2 is splattered with tiny black holds, difficult to read, and goes straight up the left wall; it looks even harder than the first, no rests anywhere.

The organisers and most of the people I’ve met in Munich have been wonderfully friendly. The underground is easy to use with some signs and announcements in English. The city centre is international and cosmopolitan, with some of the detritus that’s comes with it, most obviously the strip joints which line the main street. During the competition I get a chance to visit the city park, a perfect escape from the city, bigger than central park in New York and definitely recommended if you are in the city.

Route 1:
Okay, breathe deeply, try to climb quickly, it’s your only chance. The climbing is fairly easy and I’m cruising; I’m fluid and precise; I’m styling. Now where’s that rest? I’ve missed it! And I’ve crossed my hands in the process; I keep going though, but I’m getting too pumped, my elbows are rising but I punch out a few more moves to ¾ height before falling.

I feel desperately disappointed in my climbing and I try to analyse why. I didn’t think I was taking the competition that seriously; and so it clarifies some things about my climbing motivation and about how I deceive myself about my own ability. I realize how much I enjoy climbing well; it is good to be skilful. Much of my disappointment is as a result of not quite climbing to my own standards; and, in not having the skill I do have recognised by anyone – here I am the lowest of the low and no-one congratulates me on my effort. A further, slightly more distasteful reason, is that despite my best efforts to resist it, I’ve built up a conception of myself as being a super-good climber, better than most others, partly because amongst the climbers I have been in contact with over the last while, I am untouchable, a far ‘better’ climber. Now this conception is shattered.

Back to isolation before route 2:
Many of the climbers here seem unhappy and there is little humour – none of the best self-deprecating kind, perhaps because the competitors, like I am, are taking the event too seriously. It brings to mind this quote by the Buddha, describing how happiness is not found in battle or competition:

Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat.

Even winners become unhappy, because they have to protect themselves – everyone is after their titles.
There are also competitors who, in contrast, seem unfazed, who chat and smile. These are often the best climbers, like Yuji Hirayama – a warm friendly person – as if being able to exclude yourself from the worst aspects of competitions, like the games of comparison most are playing, actually frees up energy better focused on climbing well. This is probably the true value of competition: to meet others and to take up the challenge of the wall; too learn about your own abilities from climbing at your own limit and from watching others climb at theirs.

Route 2:
Again I start well, but fluff a clip (the draw has been lengthened and swings around) for a good 30 seconds. I manage to climb while viciously pumped by concentrating on the movements, and through the help of a few loud grunts! But I feel much better about my climbing this time; I feel I have given 100 % effort.

With the pressure off I can relax and watch the others. The men’s final is a wandering stamina-fest, a race to the top. Unfortunately, for the spectators, three climbers top out and the result is decided by the semi-final points. The winner is the Czechoslovakian Thomas Mzarek, a quick climber, with excellent route-reading skills. The women’s final is far more interesting: strangely, apart from the winner (her first major win) the placing after the final is just about switched after the placing in the semi-finals – so lots of upsets. The route climbs up to a big orange blob (which looks like the just licked top of an upside down ice-cream cone) at ¾ height; those who manage to find a rest behind the blob do well. However, the winner, Angela Eiter from Austria, misses the rest, looks shaky at the bottom (where others styled), pulls it together and incredibly, just keeps going to eventually touch the last hold (and looks disappointed!); it is such a gutsy effort I get gooseflesh.

A day later I competed in the bouldering event but I do equally badly. Unfortunately, I left before the final so I can’t report on it. The results though, for the bouldering and lead are below. Finallly, a big thank you to the MCSA, the UIAA and the DAV for the organisation that went into getting me to the comp. Thanks especially to Alan Jarvis and Sebastian Lamm.

The Results:

Lead (women):

1. EITER Angela AUT
2. HARRINGTON Emily USA
3. NOGUCHI Akiyo JPN
4. SHALAGINA Olha UKR
5. CIAVALDINI Caroline FRA
6. LEVET Sandrine FRA
7. GROS Natalija SLO
8. SAURWEIN Katharina
9. CHERESHNE. Yana RUS
10. SARKANY Muriel BEL

Lead (Men):
1. MRAZEK Tomás CZE
2. USOBIAGA Patxi ESP
3. CHABOT Alexandre FRA
4. LACHAT Cédric SUI
5. VERHOEVEN Jorg NED
6. PREUßLER Timo GER
7. KAZBEKOV Serik UKR
8. PETRENKO Maxim UKR
9. MILLET Sylvain FRA
10. PUIGBLANQ. Ramón Julián ESP
81. BROUARD Paul RSA

Women (bouldering):

1. SHALAGINA Olha UKR
2. ABRAMTCHO. Ioulia RUS
3. KOTASOVA Vera CZE
4. PISZCZEK Renata POL
5. STÖHR Anna AUT
6. BIBIK Olga RUS
7. TARASSOVA Tatiana RUS
8. CHERESHNE. Venera RUS
9. CRUZ Esther ESP
10. THEROUX Corinne FRA

Men (bouldering)

1. RAKHMETOV Salavat RUS
2. FISCHHUBER Kilian AUT
3. POUVREAU Gérome FRA
4. KAZBEKOV Serik UKR
5. HUKKATAIV. Nalle FIN
6. DULAC Daniel FRA
7. SHARAFUTD. Dmitry RUS
8. LACHAT Cédric SUI
9. MRAZEK Tomás CZE
10. MEYER Jérôme FRA
71 BROUARD Paul RSA

for more articles, pictures, results visit http://www.uiaaclimbing.com/

One Response to Munich World Championships 2005

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