Last years names as Adam Ondra, Johanna Ernst and Anna Stöhr made clear that the youth is the future in competition climbing. Recently more and more youth climbers make an early move to the senior circuit and succesfull names as the germans Megos and Halenke or French Serrière come to gain more experience in senior competitions. The pressure for older names as Angela Eiter and Ramon Julian Puigblanque is high and although they manage to win sometimes the youth shows a growing self confidence. During the competition in Puurs we made some inquiries with the younger climbers on how they live these senior comps.
First of all we had a nice chat with Loïc Timmermans who had his first senior experience just now in Puurs. It was a succesfull one cause he managed to get as 19th into the semi-finals. There he lost some places ending 23th but a good first experience it was for sure!
Belclimb: Once more congratulations with the nice performance here in Puurs. How was the competition for you?
Loïc Timmermans: It was good. In my first route I was really motivated and I wanted to give all that I had in me. It went really good and I climbed well. I tried the routes of last year’s competition and I experienced them as really hard. So I thought it was going to be as hard as one year ago. But in fact it felt ok. All moves where I thought I would have problems felt not that hard so I managed to get quite high. In the second route all did not work out that good anymore. Maybe I did not eat enough but I was really not concentrated neither. I was thinking of other things and while I was climbing suddenly I realized I was but than I already zipped… Maybe the same thing as what happened in Veliko last August. The first route went very good so I am already in another state of mind.
Were both competitions less important appointments on your calendar?
No, in Veliko I was not really in shape but I knew that there was not going to be as much competitors as normal. So I did want to make a good result. Here in Puurs I was not stressed at all because it was supposed to be a first and whole new experience but I did prepare myself carefully for this competition and the following ones. Both were quite important objectives.
How would you compare the A circuit with the senior circuit?
It’s totally different. Wow. It’s a whole lot more difficult. In qualifications already but in semi’s… Nothing to compare. The athmosphere is quite the same as in the youth circuit. There still is a lot of friendship. Maybe some take it more serious but most stay in the classic climbing style attitude.
You say that the routes were a lot harder than you’re used to in competitions. Having the opportunity to train during the year in this climbing gym, do the style of these routes have a resemblance with the normal Klimax II routes or is it something else?
The style is very similar to the style of the competition routes of last year but compared to all the other routes you can climb in this gym during the year it’s completely different. A normal 8a here is supposed to be only big jugs through the great roof but competition routes have always that bit of an extra. It’s more technical, more of an exploration. Maybe competition grading is something a part…
Who is going to win the finals?
Jakob Schubert and Ja-In Kim.
If Sebastian Halenke is the German beast, Max Rudigier is Austria’s version of a climbing beast. Only this year he competed already in 11 different official international competitions. In three of these he managed to get the highest of all, once in junior boulder and twice in junior lead. From 2007, as a B youth climber, up till now he assembled medals. Since 2009 he’s competing in the seniors as well.
Belclimb: How was the competition?
Max Rudigier: Maybe the best I ever had. The routes were maybe my style and I managed to get the ninth place. I might have done one place better but it was not easy to make something of this route. I wasn’t able to make a rest.
You’re also competing in the junior circuit. How would you compare both?
The routes and the movements here are more powerful and harder. I’ve never seen routes which are so overhanging and hard. Maybe Imst is the same but Edinburgh is nothing compared to this wall. Compared to last year I like the routes of this edition more. What concerns the atmosphere, in junior they’re much younger and you get new friends. Also you get to know younger climbers and you know them later on in the competition circuit too.
Is boulder and lead circuit exactly the same?
If you’re good in lead climbing you also have a chance in boulder. That does not count the other way around.
So in fact lead climbers are better climbers?
[laughs]… No, I wouldn’t say that.
Does a climber need to be multidisciplinary?
It is more changing and more fun to do all kinds of climbing.
David Firnenburg is, like Loïc, in his first year in the senior circuit. Throughout the years both met in youth finals and both showed to be very good climbers. In April this year, David climbed his first 9a on the rocks and from this year on his brother, Ruben, joins in on all the international youth competitions. So, in Germany as well as in Belgium, with the Timmermans or Favresse brothers, climbing seems to be a family business.
Belclimb: How was your competition today?
David Firnenburg: I think it was great for me. My goal was to get into semi-finals. I got my 22nd place after the qualifications and I managed to keep that place throughout the semi’s. So I’m satisfied.
Did you enjoy the competition?
Yes, I prefer Puurs because of its powerful style, the steep and athletic climbing. I think it’s a different way and I like it. I don’t have that much power so I’m generally better in technical stuff but I really enjoy the other thing as well.
Isn’t Era Bella in Margalef, your first 9a, a really powerful route? So can’t we say that you’re not that weak in powerstyle as you might believe?
True. Maybe I’m good in both.
Is there a big difference between the Youth A competitions and the senior circuit?
I think so. The Youth circuit you can describe as the sub-circuit. Seniors have more power, the routes are more powerful, especially here in Puurs. Even in Chamonix on a different kind of wall routes were powerful. Also in the youth competition it’s more like a game and you’re very friendly to your competitors. Here, I think it’s more strict, more serious. There are not as much smiles on the faces. But it still is fun with friends.
And what’s the difference between the international boulder events and the lead?
In boulder there are only 6 finalists so that it is much harder to get in the finals. You have to be more prepared for all kind of different moves. You have to climb in a more complex way. Boulder is shorter but has more quality.
Do boulderers need to be better climbers then?
Yes, but just for five moves. But it is also true that a good lead climber can perform good in boulder but not the other way around.
How important is climbing as a sport in Germany?
There is a big boom to build climbing halls especially by our federation. It’s booming and there’s more people interested in our sport. Maybe we’ll be Olympic in 2020. On television up till now there are only documentaries to watch. More on alpinism but the majority of the people know sportsclimbing as well although they know boulder better than lead climbing. Also, they keep on asking about how fast we climb but climbing is more complex. So many moves , so much complexity…
Mentioning the Olympics, is speed enough or should it be the whole package?
I don’t hate speed climbing. Maybe the majority like speed because it’s quick and dirty, to be serious. But I think it’s more interesting to have the three disciplines.
Ok, anything you want to add to this interview?
I don’t know. Maybe, do you think the juniors will take the lead in the senior circuit? There are more juniors than in the past, there’s so much potential. And if our sport gets more famous, by getting the Olympic status for example, junior guys will take over. It’s going to be the 16, 17, 18-years old ones taking the lead. Now the peak is 20 – 30. In the first year in senior you have to get experience. Maybe the biggest difference between the youth circuit and the seniors. The experience they have. But it’s going to be interesting times.
Thanks a lot and good luck!