The past three weeks have been packed with climbing competitions! I was lucky this season to compete in two pro-level competitions leading up to ABS Nationals. The first was the DiNamik competition in Salt Lake City, UT during the winter outdoor retailer trade show in January. This was the second year for the DiNamik comp at the Front Climbing Club. This competition had a red point qualifier with an on-sight format Pro Finals. Being that the comp was during the kick-off of the winter OR, a lot of pros showed up. I’m not the biggest fan of red-point qualifiers but I gotta say that Chief Setter Mike Bokino and his crew did a great job making the boulders thoughtful, challenging and fun! I climbed well in qualifiers and secured my spot in finals within an hour and a half of the session. The finals round was later that same night and I was able to take first place and only fell once on the second boulder! The boulders were very well set and separated the field really well. I was joined on the podium with two of my good friends, Nina Williams and Meagan Martin. They both climbed well and it’s always a treat to have my friends on the podium with me!
The very next weekend was the Dark Horse Championships in Boston, MA. This event has really developed a strong following over the years and is one of the biggest Pro-level competitions for bouldering in the country. I had done one of the three competitions that lead up to the Dark Horse finals and my win at that comp earned me a bye to the finals round of the championship. Even though I didn’t need to climb in the qualifiers, it was too hard for me to just sit back and watch everyone session the fun looking boulders! Needless to say, I climbed a few of the harder boulders to get warmed up and ready for finals! The finals round was a stacked field for both men and women and being that they take 8 finalists, it seems that anyone could take the win! However, even though I didn’t feel the best that night before finals started, I climbed pretty on point. I was the only woman to top all 4 finals boulders and no other girl was able to finish more than one boulder. The last boulder was the most memorable as it had a really committing jump for the last move and the crowd was really enthusiastic when I stuck the final hold. This event was a really great finale for the Dark Horse Series and really wrapped up the season well. Both the DiNamik and Dark Horse Champs were great events for me to get in competition mode and help get my head in the game for ABS Nationals which was the very next weekend.
I always feel more pressure for ABS Nationals than any other Pro competition in the country. I think most of it is due to the fact that I have been National Champion for many years and therefore many people expect me to do well. Most people think that the longer you do competitions and do well at them that the easier it gets mentally, but for me it actually gets harder. I know a lot of top athletes that share the same feelings as well. Because I have achieved so much, I have so much more to lose. It feels as if it would be such a big deal to everyone around me if I were unable to defend my title. And it’s bound to happen at some point! I don’t know when, but all I can say is that I’m going to continue to stay one step ahead of the next generation for as long as I can! ABS Nationals went well this year and although it was more stressful than the other recent Pro comps, I felt like I managed it better than I have in the past. I have been working a lot on my mental game with my main coach Justen Sjong. Our sessions have really helped me dial in my mental game and I think this really showed during my performance in ABS finals. I had a really good qualifiers and semi-finals rounds and although it was really close I was able to take the 1st place spot going into finals. This meant that I was climbing last on all 4 finals boulders, which puts all the pressure on me as the last competitor. I have always been pretty good at dealing with this pressure as I’ve been in the 1st place spot quite a few times in finals. This time was a bit different as I was really able to find that moment by drowning out the distractions when I needed to and just climb naturally like I do in practice. Plus I smiled a lot which also helped! : ) I felt really good and I was able to finish all 4 boulders and 3 of them didn’t get done by any of the other girls. I felt really on point and it felt great to feel natural and so in control at the same time! It was great to feel how my coaching sessions and training has paid off. For the ninth time I am the ABS National Champion and couldn’t be happier to have earned this title again!
A HUGE Congrats to Alex for all your hard work and dedication leading up to these events and your NINTH National Championship Title! You’re a crazy inspiration to us all and we’re proud to have you on the #FUGOOmovement Ambassador team!