On Sunday, August 7, 2016, the Olympic Park in Pardubice hosted 4th Round of Rock Point Bouldering Czech Cup. The first part of the competition was watched by numerous spectators, in wonderful sunny weather. The whole series entered its second half, with only two events remaining - the cup in Teplice nad Metují and the high point of the season, Czech Republic Championship in Bouldering in Slaný.
The competition started in the morning with qualification rounds in Women's and Men's categories. Men were divided into two groups. Route setters Vilda Chejn and Péťa Růžičková designed five „flash-style” climbed qualification routes. Total scores included successful topping outs, and possibly also zones of individual boulders and number of attempts.
The starting list in Women included 17 competitors. The performances were even, with four competitors with successful 4 topping outs, making the number of attempts the decisive factor. Despite her recent injury, these qualification conditions were best tackled by Daniela Kotrbová.
Women's Finals started at 4 PM, “one sight” style – that means five minutes to show what it takes, with just a short break afterwards. The competitors were challenged both by demanding routes and hot weather. The afternoon spectacle attracted a great number of fans, who cheered and encouraged the finalists to show their best. The final boulders were best climbed by young junior national team member Eliška Vlčková, leaving Dominika Dupalová slightly behind with silver and Edita Vopatová with bronze. All three climbers made the competition dramatic until the end of the time limit.
Men's qualification round was full of admirable performances. Especially Boulder 1 put competitors' strength and hip range of motion to a test. Only a few managed to top out. The most of the time and energy in Men's qualification round was taken by this tricky boulder. Out of all the participants, 12 best men qualified for the finals.
As early as in the qualification round, a group of top climbers was formed, with the Stráník brothers, Olin Klapal and Roman Kučera ahead of the others. These favourites showed they were in the groove, even though the rest of the competitors never gave up to make it any easier for the best ones. The finals had to do without Michal Uhříček who had to leave the competition due to an injury. An interesting fact is that the difference between the youngest and oldest climbers was 20 years. This made the competition pitting strength of youth and experience. Shortly after the Finals started at 6 PM, Pardubice region's native Roman Kučera excited the spectators, topping out Boulder 1 as the first competitor. The Finals then continued big style, with all four boulders challenged by the athletes, who were trying to beat all the route challenges set by Vilda.
Top 2 positions in Men's category of the most prestigious Czech bouldering competition were, expectedly, taken by the Stráník brothers. Gold was grabbed by Martin Stráník, the younger brother, silver was taken by Štěpán Stráník and bronze by Velké Meziříčí's native Olin Klapal, who showed a great sense for thrilling competition and kept entertaining the spectators. Especially Martin Stráník dominated the finals, managing to top out all four final boulders.
This short interview reveals how the Men's Finals winner Martin Stráník was feeling immediately after the competition.
How did the hot weather affect today's performances?
It was pretty hot but still quite bearable. We've had worse conditions this year. The conditions are the same for everyone, you have to find a way to get over it. My great advantage was that I managed to climb the final routes quite fast so that I didn't sweat that much or get out of breath. I was fairly fresh for the next routes.
Boulder 1 in the qualification round was difficult, did it take a lot of strength before the finals?
It did, in some degree. I didn't try to finish it at any cost, anyway. I'm not that good at climbing such steep boulders, I'm not flexible enough. So I eventually didn't manage to climb it but I knew I was qualifying for the finals, anyway. Other guys did that one so I knew it wasn't impossible.
Did the spectators help you in the Finals? Do you even notice them while climbing?
You bet I do, a lot! When people support you, you get encouraged big style. It helps your mind shift even a bit higher, you grit your teeth even more fiercely and perform better. I was surprised at the high number of spectators. I think this may be the result of the decision to make the competition a part of the Olympic Park. It is sometimes a problem in climbing competitions that people don't come if the events are located a bit out of reach. But it was just great here. Very encouraging, I enjoyed the climbing.
Who has been the toughest opponent today?
My brother, Roman Kučera and Olin Klapal are my traditional opponents this year. The qualifying rounds usually shuffles the cards a bit, but in the end, the finals always show the real quality.
What do you think about climbing being accepted as an Olympic sport?
I'm excited. It raises motivation so much. It would be great to take part in the Olympics but the form will not be very reasonable for climbers because it will include three disciplines. Now we all concentrate on a single discipline so we need to change our training schemes. Only twenty best competitors from around the world will qualify for the Olympics so it will be very difficult. But, yeah, getting there would be a dream come true.
Big thanks for the organization of the event to Honza Zozulák and all the Pardubice Climbing Team.
Text: Adam Gutwirth, foto: Standa Mitáč (www.stanislavmitac.com)