Ben Abel – Paris World Championships and Australian Nationals
So a lot has happened since my last blog for Pulse Climbing. I had just finished competing in Munich Boulder world cup, after that I had about a month of traveling and training by myself then I was off to Paris for World Championships!
I spent 2 of the 4 weeks in Munich just getting into a routine of training in the local gym, ‘Boulder Welt’. A few sessions were spent with the Boulder Welt team, it was cool to see what they did in a normal session.
Living by myself for two weeks in an AirBNB was very different from what I’ve normally done, such as staying in Youth hostels. It was great to have an apartment to myself so I could regather all my thoughts from the Munich World Cup, it helped me focus on my main goal of why I was in Europe, which was to get as much experience as I could. I had had some good days and some bad days, the bad days were coming more frequently than good days for a time.
Climbing almost everyday in Munich was great, but it takes a toll on the body, I loved every session, even if my skin didn’t. I overdid it one session and tweaked my shoulder. I rested for a bit and it was alright-ish… It hurt most when my shoulder wasn’t engaged. So I kept climbing like normal with my shoulder in the back of my mind. I had a chance to spend one day with a very good friend/training buddy from home. Tamman was over in Europe for work so he didn’t have much time but I did take him to the gym so he could see how different it was from Australia, after that session we went for a refreshing swim in the English garden haha.
My two weeks in Munich were over and it was time to explore some other gyms. First stop I wanted to head over to Nuremberg to climb at ‘Cafe Kraft’ and ‘Boulder Halle E4’. I was in Nuremberg for 2 days so I had just enough time to check out both gyms. Cafe Kraft was great! Kraft is where Alex Megos trains and I can see now why he’s so strong! The training area was top notch, it had everything you needed.
A massive eye opener for me were the footers on the 45 degree wall, they were TINY!!!! Every time I would go for a hold on the training wall my feet just came off and it was so frustrating. In Australia we use small footholds on a training wall but it will almost always have a edge. When trying to use training boards in Europe the footholds will be small and won’t have an edge, they’re just slopey! It was a real challenge and so different.
Boulder Halle E4 was different to Cafe Kraft, it had no training area as such but the setting of the boulders was amazing! It was more dynamic and comp style boulders. The setter at boulder Halle E4 also set for Munich Boulder World Cup, so it was good to get some practice in before the Paris World Championships.
My next stop was Stuttgart. I was only meant to be there for one day to check out one gym but ended staying for 4 days, unfortunately due to injury, not because the gym was so good. Unfortunately I only got to warm up before my shoulder just gave in and couldn’t do anything! Any movement involving my shoulder, even taking off my shoes would cause pain down my arm. As any climber would be I was worried, I went back to the youth hostel and stayed there for three more days until I could move my arm again. While I was seeking out who would be the best person to see for my injury I discovered that the perfect person was in Nuremberg, so back I went. I visited Dr Volker in Bamberg and he strapped me up in preparation for Paris.
I arrived in Paris a week before the Championships began, I kept my training light to make sure I didn’t over do it. For the week before it started I shared a room with a friend that was there the year I started climbing at home. Michael has always helped me with my climbing and I’ve always looked up to him as a role model, he convinced me to take my first climbing trip to the Grampians and he showed me how awesome the sport could be! So Michael and I had week to do all the tourist stuff in Paris and because my family wasn’t in Europe I had someone that was pretty much family to celebrate my 18th with. Michael unfortunately couldn’t stay for Paris but it was good to have him with me the week before the competition to help keep my head on track and to help with the nerves.
The Paris World Championships… I don’t know what to say. It was truly something different. it’s like one of those things I can’t explain, one of those you-just-had-to-be-there kinda moments and it was a long moment! 5 days of incredible climbing!
I didn’t do nearly as well as I hoped (falling off the last hold is getting pretty common for me now) but I was so happy just to be there and take part in such an amazing competition! I remember staying up late 2 years ago to watch the Boulder World Championships in Munich. I would never have thought that I would be anywhere close to competing in that competition, but I guess a lot can change in 2 years. Back to Paris, the whole 5 days are now one big amazing blur. The thing that I can say that was probably one the of the best moments was when Adam Ondra topped the final route in Lead! The crowd went absolutely crazy!! Goose bumps weren’t even a thing! Like just WOW!! After that top and amazing finish it was all over.
Coming down from such a big event wasn’t to bad. All it took was a bit of partying and another crazy comp to finally say my goodbyes.
Most of the team went back to Australia to get over jet lag and get ready for Boulder Nationals in two weekends time. I heard that Adidas Rockstars was the weekend after Paris (Adidas Rockstars is an invite only comp for elite climbers) I knew I wasn’t anywhere close to being invited but I’ve stayed up year after year to watch Adidas Rockstars and to be over there in Europe at the same time I didn’t want to miss it!
I then heard that they do a ‘Goretex be a Rockstar’ comp run at the same place, same venue, same weekend for people that don’t get invited and you could put in a application to be a part of the ‘Goretex be a Rockstar’ competition. The Goretex comp wasn’t in the world cup competition format, instead it was a pump fest with the top 3 competitors going into a ‘build your own boulder’ final, so I applied for an entry position and was accepted to compete!
Before I went to stuttgart for Adidas rockstars I had a chance to climb in Fontainebleau for two days. It defiantly wasn’t long enough, but afterwards I felt like my feet would actually stick on something that wasn’t just an edge. A side note to anyone who goes to font at around end of September – find somewhere good to stay and don’t leave a hammock as your last resort! It was the worst ever, I barely got one hour sleep with the freezing cold and wild bores running around… Maybe a sleeping bag would of helped!
I headed over to Stuttgart again, where the competition was taking place, with 2 of my Australian team mates, James Kassay, who was doing the Adidas Rockstars comp, and Roxy Perry who was joining me in the pumpfest. It comes as no great surprise that this comp turned out to be amazing! I ended up 13th out of 90 something competitors and couldn’t be happier with how I climbed. Because there was no real pressure I think that made me a lot calmer than normal. It was cool to go in a comp that was run completely different to any others, with the organisers doing an amazing job, looking after the athletes so well and putting in such a big effort to make it run well! I’m finding it really hard to describe why it was so amazing but there was something different about this one. The finals of Adidas was like a giant party! They had all the colourful flashing lights, smoke machines and confetti cannons at the end. It was just awesome to be there!
I sadly left Stuttgart to head to Frankfurt where my ride home was waiting. The plane left at night so I had time to take the other Australians to a gym that I visited earlier in my trip ’Studio Bloc’. Another amazing gym with awesome setting and holds (debatable about the best gym I visited). My skin slowly ran out and my body was telling me it was to time to stop, recover and get ready to compete again in under a week! This time over on the other side of the world…
Bye Bye Europe. I will be back soon!!
I landed in Sydney on Tuesday and left on the Thursday to go up to Brisbane. Coming into nationals I was surprisingly not jet lagged at all, but I was physically exhausted. Being in Europe for 2 months to then come home and compete in Australia’s biggest comp was really hard for me. I was definitely not at my physical peak but my head was in a good spot. With that I placed 10th in the open A male, this is my best placing yet in a national comp. One less attempt at a top and I would be sitting in 7th. In Youth I placed 3rd next to Campbell Harrison and Alistair Earley. I went into finals in first place feeling really good, something just didn’t click and I fell apart in the finals. I was stoked to be on the podium with two of my best friends in the climbing world, we had all given each other a good run for our money. Next year they move up into the opens but I stay on in Juniors for another year!
This was the best Boulder Nationals Australia has ever seen, it keeps getting bigger and better! I’m really excited to see what happens next year.
Now my trip has finally come to end. I ended up being sick for a week after Nationals which turned out to be good timing, now I have recovered from everything I am working on regaining some lost strength and power just in time to head off for China in three weeks for the World Youth Championships!
Ben Abel – Pulse Climbing Sponsored Athlete