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This week we flew all the way to South Korea for the second stage of the Iceclimbing Worldcup.
We missed the first one (money/forced double events) in Bozeman, USA.
So, this was our chance to do our ‘thing’.
Dennis looking forward to the winter season at Schiphol airport.
Beforehand we had quite some unfortunate happenings. Dennis broke his collarbone and is still recovering, we still don’t have a job (thus no money), we were forced to route set, teach and organise several Drytool events, and the only weeks we could train is was raining terribly.
Nevertheless we were getting better every day.
On the very last moment we were still trying to arrange and finish things, not the best preparation.
I like to have my head clear before going on something big like this event.

Food Poisoning

So there we were. At the hotel. The first night.
We brought our own freeze-dried meals (thanks Lyo Food). Except for two breakfasts. Because we were quite sure of a proper breakfast in the expensive hotel we booked (Best Western).
We thought we were sure of a good bed too. Just comfort.
Unfortunately that all went a little different. Especially the breakfast.
And that’s where the first F-word appears: food poisoning.
After the breakfast in the subway to the bus we would take to the competition venue it started.

I felt sick.

When in the bus I felt even sicker.

I even had the feeling I had to throw up.

That feeling became worse and worse.

Just before we were about to take a break I was sure; I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I asked for a bag, anything. One of the Korean event organiser told me we were going to stop the bus soon.

I didn’t even get the chance to say that would be too late.
I really had to press my lips together, otherwise…gross…
For four more times this went on during the bus trip. I felt terrible.
Dennis ate two things different that morning; he at no tofu and no deep fried squid. So it must have been one of these two.
The rest of the day and night I felt terrible but slightly better during the first competition day.

But eating wasn’t really possible. I forced myself to take at least a few scoops of plain rice.


Not adjusted yet to the time difference it didn’t matter that we had our breakfast at 05:00 in the morning. Before light we were all together in the isolation for the lead qualifications.
It took forever before it was my turn (I was one of the last on the list).
Even though I was still sick I was rather feeling strong too.
The first moves went easy, fine, fast (see the f-words). Till I got to a longer move. For some reason I didn’t make it at my first try. And not at my second either. And not at the third. What was I doing wrong?! Finally I made the move, one minute left on the clock I speeded further in the moves, something I’m usually not very good at but that went well this time. But way too early I was out of time…
Would this be enough for semi’s…?
Dennis already climbed and yelled at me during my climb, trying to get me up the wall. He told me later about his climb. That didn’t go perfect… It would be close to get in the semi’s for him too.
Not much later we had a result.
There we have the next F-word.
F*ck. we both just missed the semi’s.
The second time ever in my iceclimbing career I didn’t reach the semi’s. I felt lost.

Running away…

Not knowing where to go to accept my loss I walked. Away from the wall, away from all the people. I walked up hill. Ran up hill as fast as I could, I kept on running. Not knowing what to do with my stupid performance.
All the way to Korea for fifteen metres of climbing.
At the summit I sat down and looked at the landscape. The ice, the competition venue, everything.
And realised we’re going backwards.
Less time to train, and whilst the sports seem to grow in almost every country we’re still just a team of two…
Iceclimbing in the Netherlands is not going forward at all.
Less competitors at the events and event the level of the climbers went down as we saw on the qualifications of the nationals and the Dutch Drytool event where none of the men managed to top the route of even get close.
Now let’s take a look on how they manage Iceclimbing abroad. In countries that don’t have a strong mountain-history like France or Swiss.
Take for example Iran.
A few years ago they were new to worldcup climbing.
I remember showing Zoreh how to sharpen her iceaxes properly and the whole team took over the technique. For the comp I even borrowed her my picks so she could actually climb.
This year the team, still the same as four years ago, had a finalist in the men’s lead, semi finalist in the women’s lead and a finalist in the women’s and men’s speed event.
How did they do this?
Simple. Here the next F-word: finance.

At first they learned what was needed, then they copied. And now they reached it.
The team went to Russia to train several times, has the money to buy equipment, have their own indoor drytooling wall, and get every single thing paid. And they even had two coaches coming along.
The investments are shown to be worth it. They are actually getting strong!
I feel like an amateur. A clown. A beginner. Compared to not just Iran, also compared to Russia, France, Korea…
I know what i can expect on the comps but can’t perform.
I feel like being imprisoned in an environment that doesn’t respect what we do and what it takes. Forces us to be an office-Klerk, get away from all potential.
“I mean, Iceclimbing, is that even a sports” *and laughs*.
That is the general comment we get.
And even our own federation sees us as ‘second hand’. Hobby. And they by far don’t put us at the same position as Sportsclimbing.
That doesn’t only count for Iceclimbing but also to a certain point for Sportsclimbing, bouldering, Alpinism.
After fighting for five years Female Iceclimbing is still not recognised as Olympic sports here in the Netherlands.
Meaning we will not be able to sent a team to Korea, when Icecliming will be an Olympic demonstration sports.
I find that just pathetic.
Finally. I’ve said a bit about what I’ve wanted to say for a long time.
And threw up again. Food poisoning still in me.
I never dared to write this down, show you, reader this thoughts, this development. Forget what I wrote in my previous post. It’s nonsense. We’re miles behind and with every step that is not taken we will get even more behind.
We want a five-men team, and team of eight. A team. Not a couple. We want youth. We want women. We want real training. We want to eat proper food to keep us healthy and fit. We want Olympics. We want training. We want do grow the sports. We want to grow our passion!
I don’t care who it will be who will stand there on the stage, but I want him/her to be Dutch. And when he/she reaches that stage then they need to be respected, awarded, honoured.
Not like what happened to Dennis when he won. Where a tiny article on the NKBV (our National Federation with almost 60.000 members) website was the only recognition he ever got for winning the Worldcup in Saas Fee.
Not a Mart Smeets (national TV sports commentator and critic) who says that Iceclimbing looks just ridiculous (during the previous Olympics in Sochi). And then we here, nothing we could do, but just watch how one single person destroys all our potential because “it wasn’t worth sending you guys to Sochi to represent our country”.

Come on!!!

We f*in won a Worldcup, as only non-Russian men in over ten years. We stood in the finals between men and woman that have the possibility to train full time. What! We’re not worth it?!
I came back from my long walk and run. Sat next to Dennis and talked. He was so tired of seeing it all happen again year after year, for over ten years he’s been competing in worldcups. He didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
I think he’s giving up.
That midday it was time to climb speed. Dennis discipline. Not really my thing.
But it went miraculously well! I was placed third for the semi’s!
Unfortunately I made some mistakes in the finals the next morning, but still ended up seventh! That is my best and fastest time ever! I was so surprised!
Dennis and I both were not allowed to train back home on the small indoor ice-wall beforehand (because we’d destroy the Ice the owners complained and for every session of ‘normal’ climbing we’d have to pay over €30,- per person for half an hour, something we just can’t afford).
So without any training Dennis ran up and set a terribly good time. He easily qualified for the semi’s and went faster in every go.
He just, just missed the finals making one unfortunate go where his axe got stuck a few times. But he still set a time of 12 seconds on the first and 11 seconds on the other route. With less then a second he missed the finals. Only Russians above him.
He chewed his lips. He knows… If I can train this stuff… If I just can practise once… Imagine.
I could feel his pain.
Finals in the rain
We sat there. The rest of the Sunday outside in the rain. Watching the lead finals. Knowing we could do this moves too, if…
The bus back to the hotel went late that evening. I tried to eat some and it went okay.
The next day we went to the outdoor Drytool wall in Seoul. That wall.
That wall…
That is just fantastic.
Imagine training here! A proper roof, long routes, imagine how strong you would get!
We paid less then a euro to climb and understood all climbing gyms are that cheap and sometimes even free as they’re so heavily subsidised by the government.
Later the British team arrived and Eimir (from Ireland) with an American friend who both live in Seoul (she has this as her home wall). She told me on a busy there there can be up to 50 people drytooling here.
It was freezing cold, -10C with force 5 wind making it feel like -30C instantly freezing my hands, my legs. I found it scary, uncomfortable, difficult. But I needed to climb! For 5 hours we trained. Till our hands gave up.
Satisfied we went to our hotel and prepared for our flight back to Amsterdam. For the next of the series. Worldcup number three in Saas Fee (CH).

Let’s hope for a little more luck, a little more strength, a little more confidence. And maybe a little more support…?

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