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Sascha Lehman won the World Cup in lead in Innsbruck, Austria. A 25 years old Swiss climber showed a great performance in the final and took the gold medal ahead of Alex Megos and Jakob Schubert. We congratulated Sascha and asked him to answer a few questions.

Photo: Lena Drapella / IFSC

What can you say about the competition in Innsbruck? What do you think about World Cups routesetting in boulder and lead in 2023?

It is always great to compete in Innsbruck. It’s a superb venue and really good event. I did like the routes. They were a bit more on the endurance side and not too bouldery which is normally better for me. You were able to perform well as a good lead climber and didn’t have to do too many crazy bouldering moves. In the final the whole field was very close together and many fell in the same few moves. This was not perfect but I just think that everyone climbed really well which made it hard for the routesetters to separate us. In bouldering it was a little bit more basic climbing than in some previous years. I think it is important to have a good mixture between coordination, power and technique. Sometimes there were a little too many jumps in finals and not all of the boulders worked so well. But it’s just so hard for the routesetters to make everything perfect in such a packed field of strong athletes and I’ve got a huge respect for their work.

The World Championship will take place in Bern in November. Do you think it can help you to pass the qualification to the Olympics? Is it important for you to feel support of the croud during the competition? Is sport climbing a popular kind of sport in Switzerland?

It is great to have the World Championships in Bern and I’m really looking forward to it. This is a once in a lifetime experience for me. It is going to be very hard to qualify for the Olympics in Bern since there are only three spots to win at the World Championships. But of course I’ll try hard and climbing in front of a home crowd always pushes you. I do feel support of the crowd during climbing and this is a very nice feeling and helps me to perform better. Climbing is not yet a big sport in Switzerland but the community is growing really fast. It’s getting more and more popular, there are a lot of new gyms opening, television is starting to broadcast the events and the World Championships will push all of this as well.

So Paris 2024 in your future plan?

Yes Paris 2024 is definitely one of my goals. It’s not going to be easier to Qualify than for Tokyo but I’m looking forward to this challenge and I hope the luck will be on my side this time. Taking part at the Olympics stays one of my dreams.

Photo: Jan Virt / IFSC

Please tell something about your training program. How many times a week do you train? What discipline do you climb the most?

The most important discipline for me is the Lead so that’s also where I put the most time in. But of course to climb well in Lead the training on the bouldering wall is also very important. In preparation for the competitions I climb a lot on the rope but otherwise I’m most often at the bouldering wall. Speed was the discipline I did the least of all three. I train about six days a week with a total of about 25 hours.

What are in your training program except climbing itself?

Besides climbing fitness training is the most important part. Workouts in the Gym is not what I love the most but its very important to have enough power at the climbing wall. Stretching is the part I should maybe do a little bit more…

We already made the interview with Petra. Do you train together from time to time? Tell something about the climbing team of Switzerland.

Yes especially in the preparation for the European Championships I trained a lot with Petra and we did some competition simulations together. She is an inspirational athlete with a lot of willpower and motivation and its great to train with her. We have a national training centre in Biel and since Switzerland is small everyone of the national team is training there from time to time. There are normally three to four trainings in Biel per week for the national team. The rest of the training we are doing in regional teams or groups.

Do you watch climbing videos on YouTube? Whose videos do you like? Is it a part of your training?

I don’t often watch climbing Videos on YouTube. Sometimes I just poke around a little bit. Sometimes there are movies I heard of I’d like to see of projects that were climbed or big productions as for example “Free Solo” or “The Dawn Wall”

Photo: Dimitris Tosidis / IFSC

Is there a place for something except climbing in your life? Do you have a hobby or a job?

The past four years I focused on climbing only but in Summer 2020 I started my studies in Physics. I thought it would be good to have something besides climbing in my thoughts. We’ll see how it pays off.

What about rock climbing? What is your favorite crag?

This past year I climbed a little bit more on rock than before since there were not many competition. Normally I really focus on competition climbing and only manage to go outdoors a few times and for one or two weeks in winter. Siurana in Spain is one of my favorite spots, its just a beautiful place and has lots of great routes. In Switzerland for me Gimmelwald is one of the best places for hard routes and its also a stunning location in the Swiss alps.

Text by Yury Birilov, SKALOLAZ.PRO. (c) All rights reserved.

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