Petra Klingler won her first IFSC World Cup at the age of 23 in 2015. She also took the gold medal at the ice-climbing World Cup in Kirov, Russia that year. Since that time we love her for her strong motivation, incredible physical shape and shiny smile. Enjoy an exclusive interview that Petra has given to SKALOLAZ.PRO team.
Your parents are climbers. Did they train you when you were a child?
Yes, my parents are climbers, my grandparents were also climbers, but they never took part in any competitions and climbed just for fun – and mainly outdoors. And they have never coached me. We went climbing all together outdoors, had great weekends in nature.
Where do you live now? Are there mountains or rocks near your town?
I live in Bern, but I grew up near Zurich, and I’m still going back home very often. Once a week I go there for speed climbing, as it’s the closest wall for me to train on. Switzerland is very small and the mountains are quite close. There are rocks around here as well near Bern. We have a lot of nice outdoor climbing all over Switzerland. A lot of lead climbing near Bern and also alpine climbing, but I’m definitely not the alpinist. So off-season I enjoy sport climbing around Bern. But we also have Ticino, Magic Wood – a lot of great bouldering areas as well.
Where do you train now? In what gyms or climbing centers?
At the moment I train mainly in three different areas. Zurich for bouldering, speed and lead. As I live in Bern I train there a lot as well. And our National training center is in Biel, which is quite close to Bern. But in the current situation of Corona I also take it very serious and stay home and train at home.
Do you have some kind of a gym at home?
No, I don’t have a gym at home, mainly because for me it’s important to make a difference between training and being home and relaxing. And also because I have a gym super close to my place, with a 10 minutes drive. But at my parents' place when I was younger I had a small climbing wall. But I always preferred to go to climbing gym.
How many times a week do you train?
I train basically every day, most of the days even twice a day. So in general I have about 30 hours a week.
Who is your coach?
My coach is Kevin Hemund, who is also our National team coach, and we have been training together for 6 years. I also have a conditioning coach and mental coach.
Do you train individually or in company? With who?
I do train a lot individually, but we also have team trainings four times a week, which I really enjoy just to be able to get together and have fun. And for sure our National team facility is amazing, we have so many good boulder problems and the speed part. Yeah, it’s kind of luxury situation we have here in Switzerland.
Do you train somebody?
I decided not to get involved in training other people myself so I can concentrate on my personal climbing and training, on my goals. But I’m working next to climbing in marketing for the Swiss International Airlines.
Are you a routesetter?
I am not a routesetter, because I prefer to focus on climbing for myself and my goals. And when I get out from the gym I just get off all thoughts out of my mind. But I definitely enjoy rout setting and once in a will I will go and set some Boulders.
What is the Olympics for you? What changes in your life after you passed the qualification for the Olympics?
The Olympics definitely have an effect on me and my life. Not really about training because I have always been training all three disciplines. But they gave the opportunity to focus on climbing, I got the possibilities for better sponsorships, which make it easier to live for climbing, focus on climbing as the main aspect of my life. And what is changing right at the moment is the press request. So everybody suddenly is interested in climbing, it’s something new and fascinating. There are a lot of good Swiss athletes and people want to see good results. Well, who doesn’t? ;)
So what do you think about it? Do you find something good in the postponement or just the bad things?
Personally, I think it is the right decision. The health of people is more important than sports. Of course, I was disappointed, but I also think it wouldn’t have been fair. The athletes do not have the same chance to prepare themselves. The Olympics would have had a dark shadow over them with negative memories of the pandemic of Corona. And I see myself lucky, that the games have not been canceled, but “just” postponed, whereas in other sports the whole season got canceled with world championships and everything. So I am glad we got one extra year to train and still have the chance to be part of an even more spectacular and special Olympics than it would already have been.
How do you train during the quarantine?
I do my best to keep my shape. But of course, it is not easy to train at the moment. I have some possibilities to do some power sessions and fingerboard. Other than that, I set my goals, to work on my weaknesses. Invest more time in flexibility and mobility and core training. I do what I can. But with the knowledge of the postponement, I am now not as much under pressure to be in the best shape ever and also gave my body a couple of days rest. Next to that, I work on my mental strength.
What are your strong sides as a climber? What are your weaknesses as a climber?
My strong sides in climbing is for sure my determination, I’ve never giving up climbing, I’ve always - even in hard times - fought through. I have had injuries but they never were the reason to stop climbing luckily. I love training, I think that’s also a big advantage. As a competition climber I am not only climbing itself but I also love training hard (specific training like fingerboard, systemboulders ect.). My body definitely is made for it, I can do it without getting injury or too much pain. But at the same time it is also my weaknesses. Because I’m super determined I pressure myself a lot, and I have high expectations. If something doesn’t work out as I want it, it’s hard mentally to work through that. I always want more. J
What’s your training plan for Tokyo? Do you train bouldering, lead and speed together? In what proportion?
My training plan for Tokyo is not super exciting. I don’t have a magic ingredient to anything. I try to get my confidence in a lot of training. I do all three disciplines but mainly focus on bouldering. And of course, I do mental preparation. In my opinion, it is important to get into the state, where you can say, you gave it all you have and mad the best of the chance you got. Body and mind have to get into a balance.
Is there anything else in your training plan? Running? Fitness? Stretching?
I have a fitness, leg training for speed, normal strength training, upper body, lower body stretching, mental training, running, of course, finger strength. In the end you need so many things and you try to pack as much in one week as possible.
Do you like rock climbing? What’s your favorite rock location?
I definitely love rock climbing as well. There are so many locations and I’ve not been in all of them yet so it’s hard to decide which is the best. I have a long ToDo list J
Do you have some projects on the rocks?
I have a lot of projects but I’m not super determined on one specific at the moment.
What is the climbing journey of your dream?
Maybe Australia/New Zealand or RedRocks, because I’ve seen pictures there and it looks amazing. But I also want to go back to South Africa. There are a lot of wonderful places and I hope I can do a trip around the world once.
What’s your ideal breakfast?
A regular good breakfast for me is porridge with fresh fruit. But on special days or days when I have a lot of time in the morning, I like to make pancakes or scrambled eggs, waffles with fresh fruit and if possible on my balcony in the sun. I love fruits, I love oats, I love muesli, I love breakfast in general and I’m happy that there are so many possibilities for breakfast. In Switzerland we also have the tradition on Sunday to have a freshly baked Zopf from BettyBossi – a kind of bread – which I normally make myself (see my Instagram for the recipe) But it’s never better than when you can share it together with friends and a good cup of coffee.
When you need a rest – what is it?
On my rest days I love cooking and baking. I try to spend a lot of time in the kitchen or just at home doing what I want. When I’m cooking I try to invite friends over to also spend time together and for example play games. When the weather is nice I like going outdoors, either for a hike, to ride the bike or go play volleyball for example. So on my rest days, I try to meet my friends and get my mind of climbing a little bit. Life a “normal” life - haha
How do you deal with pressure during competitions?
Pressure on competition – it’s for sure the thing I’m still working on. It’s hard and there is no key ingredient to it. In the end I think it’s “getting comfortable being uncomfortable”. During the competition for sure one thing I do is to listen to music. It helps to get my head back to myself, try not to get distracted, relax, do some breathing techniques. I think about positive moments from the past. If there is a jump in the next boulder problem I remember such elements from my training. And I mentally prepare for the boulder with visualization and try feeling how I do this movements.
What do you think about when you hear Russia? Have you been in our country?
I have been in Russia many times and really like the country and have made great memories there. For example, with my first ice climbing world cup victory in Kirov 2015, my Olympia debut with a demonstration in ice climbing in Sochi. Here I will never forget the moment of the lightning of the Olympic flame when we athletes all went to see it together. It was a magical moment. And I can’t wait to see the light of the flame of Tokyo2020, the moment when we all come together once again – athletes from all around the world. It will be a very special moment.