Maja Vidmar climbing interview
Interview with Slovenia's Maja Vidmar, one of the strongest sports climbers in the world.
Slovenian Maja Vidmar is one of the strongest competition climbers of the last decade. In 2007 she won the Lead World Cup (with an incredible winning streak of six consecutive first places that season), the runner-up in 2005 and 2008 and third in both 2009 and 2011. All in all, she has stepped on a World Cup podium over 30 times in her career, not to mention other competitions. At the crag she has climbed the 8c+ Attila Lunga at Baratro crag in Italy and a great deal of 8c’s and 8b+s. We met her a few weeks ago at the World Championships in Paris for a chat about the life of a professional competition climber...
Hi Maja, thanks for meeting us! How do you find these 2012 WCC in Paris, compared to the previous one in Arco? Paris is such a big city, one of the biggest in Europe, whereas Arco is really a place much more related to climbing. Do you think it makes a difference to you athletes?
No, not really. Because it's a competition, even if it was somewhere very far away, like China, you have to focus on the little things and the route itself. On the other hand, when the competition is over you have the chance to stroll around a little and both Arco and Paris are great. I like Arco, the town, its atmosphere and everything. And here in Paris there is a lot you can see and it's also very interesting indeed.
You told us you are going to participate to the remaining events of the Lead World Cup, although you didn't take part in the second and third events (Briançon and Imst) this year…
Yes, I did the first one, Chamonix, but a week before the competition I injured my finger… I said to myself "OK, I’ll try Chamonix" but this wasn’t really a good idea because after that my finger got worse and I had to stop climbing for almost a month. At first I thought that it wasn't too bad and I waited and waited, but I was like "Damn, I want to compete in Arco and Paris!". A week before Arco, it was OK, still a bit painful but I was training nevertheless and I felt I could climb hard. In the end I skipped Arco in order to train for Paris. I felt ready for this one, but unfortunately it didn't go too well...
Do you normally do injury prevention as part of your training regime?
Yes, I do. In the past I’ve had problems with my shoulders but now I do many specific exercises and it's better.
In general, how do you train for competitions? Is there a particular aspect you focus on?
Yes, at the beginning of the season I do more system training, like weights, fitness in general, more bouldering. But I still climb quite a lot even in those phases.
Let's talk about rock… You have climbed up to 8c+. Do you have definite projects for the future, maybe to try and break the 9a barrier?
Yes, of course, 9a is one of my goals. But at present I’m focusing on competing. I miss climbing outdoors, but I'll have time for them when the competitions are over.
Any specific lines in mind? Recently we have seen many female climbers making breakthroughs in Siurana and Oliana, whilst your 8c+ was actually in Italy, near Trieste…
No, I’ll just try anything wherever I happen to be. Anything I might like, no precise plans.
Slovenia has a very great climbing tradition when it comes to mountaineering a bit all over the world. I am thinking of the likes of Karo, Kozjek and Knez. As a sport climber, what is your relationship towards alpine climbing? Did you start with climbing in the mountains or directly with sports climbing?
I started at crags, but I do like mountains too. I have many Slovenian friends who are into it and very good indeed. I'm not too crazy about the risks, though! (laughs)
There are many sport climbers from the 80s and the 90s that at some point were just "done" with really hard cragging and they moved on to something else. Do any of those climbers have a path that you would like to follow?
Not really, I don’t have one special hero, it's rather many athletes I look up to, and not just sports climbers.
A slightly more personal question… I can't really ask professional climbers what they would do if they won the lottery, I guess you would all still be climbing full time as you are pretty much living your dream… or not?! Would you do something different?
Yes, you are right, all the money would go to climbing, maybe travelling more and further still : )
What can you tell us about your involvement in the Slovenian forces? How does that work?
They pay me for my career and training, which is very fortunate. I am not exactly part of the army though. Three days per year I have to be there, to see what is going on, me and all the other athletes sponsored by the army, not just climbers. Klemen Becan, who is also in the Slovenian climbing team, and I are in the army but many more people from other sports are there too. Climbing is actually not so popular and it's really hard to get this sponsorship.
When did you decide that you wanted to try and become a professional climber? Was it when you were really young?
No, at the time I had just started climbing and I really liked it. I didn't really start with the idea of this becoming my profession…
They say life is what happens while you make other plans…
Exactly! So this wasn't planned, not at the beginning for sure.
by Franz Schiassi
Maja Vidmar is sponsored by Scarpa, Camp and Adidas
The great little film about Slovenian sport climber Maja Vidmar, seen through the unique eyes of her dog.