The effort was worth it though. Busteni have invested 200,000 euros into an excellent ice climbing structure, 25m+ high with huge overhangs and roofs giving 30m+ ?? routes. It's a shame that a heatwave arrived two days before the comp and for a second time this year the ice routes had to be heavily modified with artificial holds.
I headed out there with the two other British climbers, Fiona Murray and Kev Shields, again as a combination of photography trip and also competing myself. I hesitate to use the term "British Team" because unlike most competing nations, Britain does not provide any support for this form of climbing competition. Other countries have a team selection process, provide coaching and of course fund their climbers to compete. At the opening ceremony it always feels quite odd. The "teams" parade under their nation flag. Our country doesn't even know that we're there.
The competition series was very close in the men's, with Markus Bendler (Aust), Evgeny Krivocheitsev (UKR) and Alexei Tomilov (Russ) in contention for the title. In the women's event Jenny Lavarda (It) had won the prvious two events and needed only to finish top 8 to take the series.
I drew 44th starting position which meant I had to endure 7 hours in the isloation room waiting to go out and climb. The more seasoned competitors were clearly used to this and came prepared with sleeping bags and thermarests. Evgeny was out 49th and happily spent most of the time dozing away in his down coccoon. Being a long way down the starting list is also limits the opportunity for getting good photos, I missed both Fiona and Kev completely.
Fiona returned to collect her gear after climbing and was fuming (at her climbing). She'd being going well then messed up on one move and suddenly got really pumped. Ended up 9th missing the final by one place.
When I finally emerged from isolation I actually managed to climb quite well, really enjoyed it and got pretty high on the route. 23rd place is nothing special but it's not bad for me - just missed getting into the semi-finals. After watching the rest of the comp I learned what I did wrong at the point I came off. At certain points of a route you need to spot the solution quickly otherwise your energy drains away. Comp experience comes slowly but I'm psyched to do more and try and finish higher up.
Kev Shields (photo thanks to Fiona)
Kev Sheilds also had an ok-ish competition. He climbed well, 30th place from 49 is pretty good considering he has one hand missing, but again he's psyched to do better.
In the women's final Steph Maureau (Fr) climbed well reaching 2 holds from the top. Jenny Lavarda then followed and though tiring looked like she would reach the top but made a mistake 1 hold from the top. Last out was Petra Muller (Swiss) who dug deep on her competition experience and made no mistakes to top out and win. In a slightly different order the series went to Jenny 1st, Petra 2nd and Steph 3rd.
In the men's comp the final routes looked staggeringly hard.
Jack Muller (Swiss) hadn't reach the top in qualifying or the semis but he seemed to find an extra endurance gear and got really high. Tomilov then powered his was to the top, cutting loose plenty but hanging on for ever. Bendler who is one of the most asthetic climbers put on a flawless display and reached the top much faster. Then Evgeny followed and almost made it look too easy, 40 seconds faster again. So Evgeny took the title and the series, Bendler 2nd and second in the series and Tomilov 3rd and also 3rd in the series.
I've enjoyed the World Cup this year. Hopefully next year the comp will be 'spur-less', which is after all the way that most of us climb these days.
I almost forgot to mention my climber rescue!
Maria Shabalina (Russia)I was up in a crane taking photos when Maria Shabalina managed to end up in serious trouble. As she came off her ice axe handle caught on a hold and the pick impalled her on the back of her kneck. As you can imagine, hanging free suspended just by the pick of an axe in your kneck is a bit painfull. So the crane driver zoomed me over to her and I lifted her off. Fortuately no serious damage done. Phew.