Jakob Schubert is back. After a World Cup break, the 31-year-old is attacking again in Salt Lake City. There are two bouldering decisions on the program this weekend and next. In an interview, the Olympic bronze medalist reveals why he traveled to the USA with good memories, what goals he has for Salt Lake City, how he plans his "Road to Paris" and why the route to the 2024 Olympic Games is not only via Munich, but also the most difficult rock routes in the world.
Jacob, how's the current shape?
I'm fine. I'm still corona-free, but above all I've been healthy for what feels like an eternity. I don't have any aches and pains, I can complete my training completely. And above all: I have an incredible lightness since the Olympic Games in Tokyo were over and I no longer have to climb speed. The third discipline brutally pushed the body to the limit, now it's much easier for me.
Still, you skipped the World Cup in Korea?
It was already clear before the season that I would either do the Asia trip or the USA trip. I actually leaned towards Asia because it would have fitted in better with the schedule so that I would have more time to prepare for the lead climb. But when Japan was postponed, I switched because I can do two World Cups in one long-haul flight in Salt Lake City. Those are two chances, because in bouldering you never know how things will go.
As you saw at the World Cup opener in Meiringen...
I felt brutally good, was extremely fit and perhaps better prepared than ever before. Even during the warm-up, I felt ready to really tear it apart. But in the competition it was like so often in bouldering. There was a small mistake, I misread the problem there and then I also smashed my hand, which made it extremely difficult mentally.
And now Salt Lake City, which was an important milestone on your way to Tokyo last year?
I came with great memories. It was the first competition with an audience after the pandemic, and the atmosphere was really good. Above all, I was able to exploit my potential, made it to the final and climbed to third place there. And this year could be even better. Last year the wall had a small faulty construction, it was too flat. They changed that this year, made it steeper – that should suit me even better.
The competitor Jakob Schubert speaks.
Up until now I've always been more of a competitive climber than a rock climber, even if there's a bit of a shift happening now, I can't figure that out either. I love competition and everything that goes with it. Having a big goal in mind, preparing myself to train hard and get better at every level. If you can then call it up in the competitions, it's all the nicer.
Nevertheless, you're taking it easy this year, as rock climber Jakob Schubert is also taking his time slots.
The rock climber is also in me, he may also be satisfied. I think I found a good mix in planning the season and I'm looking forward to the new projects. For the preparation as well as for the implementation. The nice thing is that both competitive and rock climbing complement each other so well.
How can you imagine this interaction?
When I'm in competition mode, fully preparing for a competition, it brings enormous fitness. That helps on the rock. Conversely, you learn a great deal on rock when you push yourself to the limit. For example, you can try a lot more and still become more efficient because you discover things that you would never have recognized on a climbing wall. And one thing is also clear...
If you want to be one of the best climbers in the world, you have to prove yourself on the rock. I want to join the club of the few climbers who climb 9c. It's a matter of prestige.
Speaking of prestige, has the Olympic medalist gotten a glimpse of qualifying for Paris 2024 yet?
Yes, of course. As part of the athletes' committee, I was involved in the planning. The biggest difference compared to Tokyo is that the main part of the qualification will take place much later, namely in 2024. And in a new format, as a qualifying series, which of course affects the preparation. I would love to qualify again for next year's World Cup, there are three places. But that will be even more difficult than 2019 in Japan.
Munich is all the more important, where the new format, i.e. the combination of bouldering and lead climbing, will be climbed for the first time in August as part of the European Championships, right?
The European Championship on the doorstep is good, but because of the premiere of the new Olympic format, it's all the more of a highlight for me. I would like to take every opportunity to test the new combination. That's why the final in Munich is the big goal this year. In the past, I always found it a bit difficult to focus at European Championships. It never had the value because many top people are missing. It will be completely different in Munich.
That might interest you
- Video: Adam Ondra and Jakob Schubert try to flash explosives (9a).
- Jakob Schubert trying to flash the Lichtblick route (8c +)
- Jakob Schubert repeats Erebor (9b) - one of the most difficult sport climbing routes in Italy
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Credits: Cover photo: KVÖ/Elias Holzknecht