VAIL WORLD CUP / by Angela Payne

The past few months have been one of those chunks of time when I look at climbing and think…damn, I’m the luckiest person ever to have this in my life, and it really can’t get much better, can it?  I’m not sure why I’m feeling so sentimental about it, but I think it might have to do with the perfect variety of climbing experiences I’ve had recently.  There has been indoor climbing, outdoor climbing, serious competition, success, frustration, tons of time spent with friends, and much more.  It has been a flurry of activity, so now there will be a brief flurry of blog posts. ---

A few weeks ago was the weekend of the Vail World Cup, formerly known as the Teva Mountain Games, but now called the Go Pro Games.  I love this event.  It’s the perfect combination of outdoor enjoyment and difficult competition, two things that I truly love.  In the past, I have had mixed results at this event, but I always enjoy being there, surrounded by mountains and friends from all over the place.  This year, I approached Vail with few expectations and a goal to just make semi-finals.  I felt fit, but didn’t want to get my hopes too high, as I know the competition is incredibly stiff and the boulders are always challenging.

Vail Girls

Vail Girls

Me and Alex Puccio

Me and Alex Puccio

The qualifying round went relatively well, and I achieved my goal of making semi-finals.  After the semi-final round, however, I was pretty sure my climbing was complete for the weekend.  I had only completed 1 of 4 boulders, and had only reached 2 bonus holds.  Normally, this would not be enough to earn me a spot as a finalist.  This round, however, was not “normal”, and a single top was all it took to advance.  Much to my surprise, I ended up in third place after semis.  I was thrilled!

I have only climbed in one World Cup final in the past, at this very event two years ago.  It was one of the most enjoyable competition experiences of my life, so I was very excited for another go at it.  Once again, the crowd at Vail did not disappoint, nor did the boulders.

Women's Finalists.  Photo by Ashley Schoppelrei

Women's Finalists.  Photo by Ashley Schoppelrei

Final 2

Final 2

Final 3

Final 3

And it was HARD—just as hard as I would expect a World Cup finals round to be.  I felt great at the beginning of the first boulder problem, but I was unable to finish off the last move.  The second boulder flat out kicked my butt.  Exhaustion began to get the best of me, but I continued to fight.  Much like the first boulder, the third boulder spit me off at the last move, over and over again.  And then, my tank was completely empty, and I couldn’t do the dyno early in the fourth problem.

Photo by Heiko Wilhelm

Photo by Heiko Wilhelm

Light on the hills in Vail at the end of the weekend.

Light on the hills in Vail at the end of the weekend.

So, I was the only person in finals to complete zero boulders.  At first, I was disappointed by this fact, but the feeling was fleeting.  I had made it this far, and I had tried my absolute hardest in front of an incredibly supportive crowd.  Although I realize I could have been more fit for 3 hard rounds of climbing in 2 days, I felt like I really put my full effort into that finals round, and had a blast doing it too.