The SKALOLAZ.PRO team has made this interview with the winner of the European Championship in bouldering Jernej Kruder right after the competition. Now it is time to enjoy it!
Photo by Bram Berkien / Adidas Rockstars
Let’s start with the European Championship. What can you say about the competition?
First of all, I must say that I was happy to even travel this year. The other thing is that I really love Moscow. So I’m happy cause that the only competition took place there, in Russia. I’m also super happy to achieve such a result that I wasn’t really expecting (1st place in Bouldering). But on the other hand, I left Moscow with a little bit of bitter taste because I came there for the Olympic ticket which unfortunately didn’t happen. But anyway I’m not too sad because I knew that it was a really hard thing to do.
Photo by Stepan Chaporov
What can you say about the routesetting on the European competition in Moscow?
It’s very subjective to answer those questions. For sure, I really like the setting for bouldering, but I have to say the opposite for the combined. In the qualification round for bouldering the boulders were way too easy, even though I didn’t one of them. I know I should be able to climb the easy stuff, but on the other hand, you have no place for correction if something goes wrong.
If you failed one boulder, there’s no hard boulder that will push you higher. However, that’s how the competitions work, and I shouldn’t be complaining about this too much.
The routes were as well too easy, though I was not doing it as well either. So I’m not here to judge too much. But many people said that it’s kind of fair for the speed climbers so they can do something on the route or on the boulder which in my opinion is not a very nice thing to do. Because if they do something good for the speed athletes then they should do something good for the bouldering and lead athletes as well in speed which is impossible. In this case, I think that the routesetting in bouldering should be set for the bouldering guys and the routes should be hard as they are in the normal lead competitions.
Photo by Yury Birilov
What can you say about the organization of the European Championship in Moscow?
First I would like to say that I was a bit afraid of traveling before Moscow because I thought that we all gonna be in the bubble and we won’t be able to do anything. But in the end, I was so happy to be there and the organization was on the very top. I was missing a little bit of crowd comparing to previous years but I know in this situation it was quite hard to achieve something like that.
Is it important for you to hear the crowd?
Usually, I’m super focused on my climbing but it’s always good to know that crowd is cheering just for you. In Moscow, the crowd was not too big but was still hearing some noises that were very nice for me. That’s how I really got into my mood especially in the semifinals and finals.
Let’s talk about your training system. It seems like you are training mostly on the rocks even before the competitions.
Yeah, it’s true. I’m pretty much an outdoor climber. I rarely train indoors, especially in the last two years unless if it is really bad weather and I cannot find a dry place to climb. This season was really weird, we did not know if some competitions will happen or not, so I didn’t even train too much for the competitions. I also know that this kind of approach usually helps me because I was not nervous about the competition, and I’m just like climbing outdoors and not thinking if I’m strong enough or not. When it gets to the competition and I’m here with no expectations. When I’m outdoors I usually climb pretty hard stuff so my body stays in shape and in this case I’m quite comfortable.
Do you have some favorite exercises in your training or you just climb?
It’s all about climbing. All that exercises are in the past of my training routine. But on the days when I cannot go outside, I still can do some exercises with my friends. Usually, it is not pull-ups and push-ups but some training for the opposite muscles.
Your sister Julia is a climber too. Do you train and climb together?
We do, but not very often, because in the season she is training with the coach. This year was different and during the first lockdown, we climb together outdoors. But she was no so motivated because there were no competitions.
Do you train somebody?
No. I’m focused on my own climbing. But you never know what the future brings.
You like DWS. Please tell us about that.
Yes, I think it’s my favorite kind of climbing. It’s the most fun kind of climbing when you do it above the water. I’m so sad because the season turned out so bad this year. I was planning to go back to Mallorca and unfortunately, because of the situation, I could not get there.
How do you manage the fear when you are deep water soloing?
Honestly, I think that is the reason why I’m pretty good in DWS. When I was young I was happy to jump from the big heights like bridges. But I was not able to try DWS that time though I was always keen to try it. Luckily in 2016 I bought my first tickets to Mallorca which used to be a paradise for this kind of climbing. It was a bit different from how it was expected. I was pretty scared but somehow I felt solid on the routes. I tried the hard ones from the first days and I never fell. That’s why I tried Es Pontas from the first day.
Finally, I fell on the jump, and apparently, nothing happened and that’s how I’ve got the confidence. I think it is the most important thing. After that everything is mentally easy.
Photo by Vladek Zumr
What can you say about the free solo?
Honestly, when I was younger, I did that a lot. I was let’s say young and stupid and don’t think too much about the consequences. But on the other hand, I was always 100% sure that I’m not gonna fall and that’s the whole point of climbing. That’s also why I really like it. At least I’m proud that I did some free solo ascents when I was younger because it proves that you have a really strong mindset. But unfortunately or fortunately I’m not in this game anymore. But for sure it was a good time in my life when I was doing it as well.
What about your plans for this year?
I’m still hoping to get back to Mallorca when I have to finish the route of Chris Sharma which is called Alasha. I already tried it two years ago and it felt quite possible, so for sure I’m planning to go there again.
Did you climb with Chris?
Yeah, actually we climb together few times. I remember him from the La Sportiva legends only and some psychoblock competitions in Spain. He is a cool dude. We also met in Mallorca once. He’s a really great man and for sure a role model for me.
Lately, in the last few years, I’m also focusing on the big wall projects so I’m already planning with a friend of mine to go to Venezuela for the big wall climbing expedition. But this project is not in my head for the near future because it is too difficult and the situation in Venezuela is not so good. There are also some good lines in Europe that I want to climb. For example in Loferer area in Austria there is a 200 m big wall with some hard routes from Alex Huber. I have already checked some lines from the distance and they looked super nice. It is not too far from my home so logistically it is much easier than the expedition to South America.
Photo by Bram Berkien / Adidas Rockstars
What is in your life except climbing?
I think it’s all about climbing. Sometimes I do some routesetting in Europe. I like it a lot and it is rather my passion than a job. I liked enduro moto biking very much, but since I moved from my parents' house I did not have a place to store my bike. That’s why I bought a mountain e-bike which I can keep in my apartment and climb some hills with a bike. That is pretty much everything that is not connecting to my climbing.
Text by Yury Birilov. All rights reserved.
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