The Bouldering World Cup in Vail is always one of my favorite events of the year. The competition is part of a larger event, formerly known as the Teva Mountain Games, now known as the GoPro Mountain Games. I remember the days when the competition at the Teva Games was held on a small mushroom-shaped boulder in a parking lot, so it is pretty neat to see how much the event has grown over the years. Now, the World Cup attracts an incredibly strong field of competitors from various countries.
Vail World Cup - Angela Payne
I went into this competition not really knowing what to expect of myself. I have been climbing a lot lately, with competitions in mind, but also with the goal of getting outside when possible. I felt pretty strong before Vail, but I have learned that approaching World Cups with high expectations can be a dangerous game. So, I went to Vail with the goal of making semi-finals and climbing smart.
During the qualification round, I quickly felt the effects of the higher altitude and also got a pump early on that I was unable to shake for the rest of the round. I managed to complete two boulders of the five, but did feel that I made pretty good decisions, so I was relatively satisfied with my efforts. I achieved my goal of making semis by placing 12th after the first round.
At these World Cups, I always feel more pressure during the first day than I do if I make it on to the second round. So, I approached the semis with almost no expectations, which worked well in the end (as it usually does). The semi final round was brutally hard. I managed to do the first boulder problem (which climbed up nothing but wood panels that had been screwed to the wall) on my second attempt. That was the only boulder I completed, and I only reached the bonus on two of the remaining three boulders. I felt like I had put in a relatively good effort, but I wasn’t thrilled with my climbing. Much to my surprise, everyone else also found the round to be incredibly hard, and I somehow came out in third place. Needless to say, I was thrilled! This was only the second time I had made finals in a World Cup, and it came as a total surprise.
I was incredibly excited to compete in finals and I knew it would be incredibly hard. I was feeling the fatigue from the previous two rounds, but I was ready to go out there and try my hardest. I felt honored to be climbing in the company of five amazingly strong ladies: Jule Wurm, Akiyo Noguchi, Anna Stohr, Alex Puccio and Shauna Coxsey.
Finals were hard…for me at least. I immediately felt a deep fatigue setting in when I fell off the last move of the first boulder multiple times. Despite feeling tired, I continued to try my hardest and really enjoyed the experience of being in front of such an AMAZINGLY supportive crowd. I truly had a great time in finals, despite being the only girl to complete zero boulders. I felt like I put all I had into my attempts and had an awesome time doing it. I couldn’t help but smile a lot because it was just that much fun (and did I mention how AMAZING the crowd was???). In the future, I might consider training more specifically for two seriously difficult rounds of climbing in the same day. It was hard, and I definitely wasn’t fully prepared for it. But, all things considered, I was very satisfied with the outcome of the weekend.
So, in the end, the Vail World Cup was another incredible experience. Alex Puccio finished in third place and Paul Robinson represented the US in the finals as well. I had the opportunity to see many great friends that I don’t see often enough, AND I got to spend the weekend in one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who worked their butts off to make the event possible. It is, and always will be, one of my most favorite events ever.