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INTERVIEW: MATHIEU ACHERMANN


PET hold definitely made the Wow-Effect on World Championship in Bern. The film Obsessed by Mathieu Achermann have impressed us too. So Skalolaz.Pro team proudly presents this interview with the director of that film and the co-owner of Flathold. Enjoy!



Photo by Gina Donzé


Mathieu, please share with us the story of the Obsessed film. Why did you decide to tell the story of Pierre and his campus movement? What thing in this story makes it so special for you?



We decided to do the movie "Obsessed" when Pierre Broyer visited us and discussed this idea with Manu. We thought it may be interesting to see the creation of one boulder for a world cup. At that time of course we didn't know if the idea of Manu and Pierre of making a non-textured boulder for a world cup would actually work. So we started the video to follow the process without being sure it would give something. Then we discussed the idea with the IFSC and the chief route setter (Rémi Samin) who were interested in the conditions that it had to stay open. It means that the decision of keeping this idea on the wall will be the decision of the chief route setter. Another reason for making this video only about one boulder is that the IFSC has some restrictions regarding the copyright of the footage of the IFSC competitions. We only were allowed to use 20 seconds of footage of the competition. Which means that we could not have made a video about the full final or the full competition. So we thought that it may be a good solution to focus on this idea of the process of one specific boulder and one specific athlete.


What do you think about PET holds? Is it a new trend in sport climbing? Will we see them in future in comps? What other new forms or types of holds will come in 2024?



We used PET only because it was the only material that was thick enough to make a hold that is strong enough. The idea of doing it transparently was also not intended at the beginning. As the organizator of the Bern World Championship had a palette of colors, we also bought spray cans in all the RAL colors in order to spray the holds to make it fit to the organizator restrictions. But finally they liked the idea of transparent holds and we kept it without adding any color. So we didn't choose PET or transparent material to start a new "trend" but only to serve the idea of this coordination boulder problem. I personally don't think that it will become a "trend" as the commercial gyms are pretty picky with the color panels. But on our side we are planning a "limited edition series' ' of this product just to make one batch as a "souvenir" of this competition. We should show it in November at the Halls&Walls trade show in Germany.


For 2024 and actually for the end of this month already, we will launch our new modular system called UTURN. We worked on it for 3 years, tested it in different world cups (Meiringen 2021, 2022. Bern 2023) and we are finally really happy to launch this new family product. The UTURN is a combination of fiber glass macros, attached on a half sphere which has a hollow space in it. This space allows the fixation of each piece with a kind of "sandwich system". Each piece is fixed with the central bolt and can rotate over the spherical surface of the ball for precise and quick adjustment. This system is in our opinion a real innovation. We already know the holds or volumes that can stack on each other, but none of these products offer the possibility to move on a 3 dimensional surface. It creates a new dimension for the setters and is a kind of revolution in terms of possibilities that this system will offer.



Special holds for special boulder: do you in Flathold have similar cases? If so, please share them with us.



We already worked in the past on specific holds for a specific Boulder. When Laurent Laporte from Cheeta wanted to make the "crack boulder" in Meiringen 2021, we worked with him to create soft polyurethane holds that fit the crack. We made some moulds and poured hold for him and he created this boulder that was also only for one exclusive competition.



You might have the feedback from the athletes who tried that "glass" boulder in Bern. What did they say about non-texture holds? Is the athletes’ opinion important for Flathold team? Did you change something in your products after climbers share their impressions with you?



Yes we had of course the feedback of Micka Mawem who became world champion on these holds. And I guess the athletes were pretty surprised but in the same hand, they have known this kind of moves for a while and they can read the setter's intentions pretty fast. The setters also used one of these holds in the semi final and one was in the isolation room for the finalists. Mika told me that during the isolation he tries many things on his hands: with chalk or without, with water, with Coca-Cola on his hands, with the glue of the tape. I think finally he just went for water and liquid chalk.


Of course the athlete's reaction is important as well as the gym owner's opinion. However we do not focus on this to bring new products out on the market. I think our position is mainly to be creative and not just follow the needs of an existing market. As designers we have the duty to innovate and try to bring new system, new ideas. Most of the time people like what they already know. And they can be afraid of something new, something different. So our role is probably to stay focused on creativity and try to think ahead.


Text by Yury Birilov / Skalolaz.Pro

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