After a solid week of training and sleeping back in the UK it was time to head out to China. I had never been to Asia so I was quite excited but also a little worried as I had only heard not that great things about China...
I had a nightmare trying to get my visa sorted out prior to leaving but eventually managed to get one with a day or two to spare. This was the longest flight I had to take for all the comps involving 2 layovers, one in Paris and one in Guangzhou China.
When we arrived in China the air was incredibly humid and you got a sweat on just standing still. After a long taxi ride we finally made it to the hotel. Haiyang was not at all what I expected. I had heard about the masses of people in china and not very good food, but in fact Haiyang was quite the opposite. There were loads of high rise flats with no one living in them. The whole city felt like the aftermath of a zombie apocolypse. With lots of construction going on and only a few people here and there, it was a bit strange to say the least. Then after suggestions of bringing my own food with me to China, (which I decided against) the food was great! A huge buffet for every meal with plenty to choose from. So not typical China I would say...
The boulders in the comp were fairly basic pull hard problems. It was quite hot during qualifiers but I felt good. I dropped a few boulders and came close to getting boulder 1 and 2 but I knew not many people were topping. It came to the last boulder and I was tired but knew this was the one to get. I pulled on and climbed to the top with relative ease. I topped a burly (ish) boulder! Well it was overhanging and not a slab at least...
When the round was over I checked the results and found out I had qualified for the semi-final. A great birthday present!
The next day in isolation me and Shauna had both somehow misread the time for semis so I ended up only having 20 minutes or so to warm up. This definitely showed on the first boulder. I just couldn't engage my shoulder enough to press out on the volume. This was the boulder I thought I would have had the best chance at. It started raining half way through my rotation so I got to have a bit of extra time to rest which I was thankful for. I managed to get one bonus on the roof problem. It didn't really matter how I climbed because I had accomplished my overall goal for the season. To make a semi-final, and I was happy with that.
We arrived into Charles De Gaule Airport to be notified that our bags had been; "misplaced"... Great. I won't go into detail about how shit AirFrance were to us whilst we attempted to regain our bags over the following weeks. I still don't have my bag back yet. Anyway, after a couple of days training and wandering about Paris taking in some culture. We met up with Shauna's coach who drove us to Laval.
It was great to be back in Laval, the town where I won my first international gold medal as a junior the previous year. It brought back some good memories. I got to meet some old friends who were also competing in Laval last year and we also had a much bigger team at this event. I always like the team vibe it definitely pushes me to climb harder.
Whilst warming up for qualis, my skin just disintegrated and fell off. This has never happened before and I was left asking myself "why now!" After a lot of chewing I got my fingers to a climbable level and carried on with my warm up.
The venue was much hotter than last year which was a big factor. Everything was quite sweaty and it was hard to keep your breathing down. There were a lot of competitors entered for this competition which meant we had to climb in two separate groups. I was in group B.
I was out fairly early on and cruised the first boulder. It felt really easy. The next 3 were a bit harder but I managed to reach the last move on all of them. The final boulder was a cool outward facing start, a little manoeuvring and a sideways jump to the finish. I surprised myself with another flash! Well psyched!
I definitely feel like I climbed my best in this competition compared to the other rounds. Once again, I didn't care where I placed, the fact I felt I climbed well was all that mattered to me.
Well that's it for now, the World Cups are over and back to work. Now it's time to train for the World Championships!
Hopefully I'll get my bag back at some point...