One Spot Out of Finals in China

My experience earning the best result of my career!

One Spot Out of Finals in China
Qualifiers in Keqiao, China Photo by IFSC

The first World Cup of the season is always the most stressful.

Although the IFSC calendar includes many events, the first is the most important. It sets the tone for the season.

In the weeks before China, I'm hyper-focused on my performance. I watch my diet like a hawk. I attend preparation events to sharpen my competition tactics. I start taking sports supplements.

My reps go down, and the weight goes up. My sessions get shorter and more focused.

I'm in the end zone.

As I boarded the flight to China, I still felt some skills on the wall needed work. Some moves needed more practice, my diet could have been better, and I could have optimized my sleep schedule before the travel day.

These doubts scared me last season. I started the 2023 IFSC circuit in Asia, and it was a slow start.

I tried too hard to feel perfect.

I stressed out about every little thing that I couldn't control. I didn't have a consistent diet, and I couldn't shake the jet lag. I was paranoid that my beta-reading wasn't World Cup-ready.

As a result, I was shaky and nervous.

As the season progressed, I realized the perfect conditions I had hoped for weren't coming—they didn't exist.

I hadn't been to China in nearly five years. My VPN was spotty. I couldn't sleep on the 12-hour flight, and I wasn't able to enjoy pancakes on comp morning. I don't usually eat rice, but I had it three meals a day out of necessity and convenience.

I noticed that my slab skills were weak in the days before I left for China, but it was too late to work on it. My elbows hurt more than usual because of the heavy reps I'd been doing to taper for the event. I had to ask a flight attendant for a pack of ice on the plane.

Last year, these things would have affected my confidence going into the World Cup, but this time, I wasn't worried.

After doing the full circuit in 2o23 and comparing the conditions that produce good performances to the ones that produce bad performances, I know that it doesn't matter.

A tweak, some fatigue, doubt, nerves—they don't go away no matter how experienced you are. My best events of the season were plagued with as many mistakes and doubts as my worst ones. Great performances are about whether you let them affect your performance or not.

It's about letting go of perfection and being confident that you can perform no matter the conditions.

So, when I sat on that plane headed for China, I knew I was ready for the competition. When I began my season on that first qualification boulder, I came out swinging, and the results speak for themselves.

I reached the top of every boulder in qualifications, which I've never done before. I qualified comfortably for semi-finals in 9th place.

Qualifying boulder 5 in China Photo by IFSC

The next day, I gave it my all. Although I couldn't progress much on the first two boulders in the semi, I topped the third boulder on my first try and scored points on the fourth. Only nine of the 20 semi-finalists managed to top a boulder, and my quick top, combined with the zone on the fourth boulder, put me in seventh place.

China is the best IFSC result of my career and just one spot away from achieving a goal I've had since I started competing—to make a World Cup final.

They take the top 6 semi-finalists to finals, and I was just one hold away from qualifying.

I've always considered the 2022 Meiringen (SUI) World Cup my best event. I qualified in 9th place, topping four of the five qualification boulders, and finished in 9th place, just a zone away from finals. The field was stacked, and it was the first semi-final of my career.

I got injured a week later and was out for most of the season.

I've been attempting to surpass my performance in Switzerland ever since.

In 2023, I came in 8th in Salt Lake City, an objectively better result. I tried to tell myself that I performed better than I did in Meiringen, but that just wasn't true. After 2023, I still felt I was still straining to return to my former glory in 2022.

Now, just one event into the 2024 season, there's no debate.

China was the best event of my career.