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Interview with Tomas Mrazek:

Level of some World Cup competitions decrease etc.

Big interview with Czech World Champion in lead climbing Tomas Mrazek did our reporter Simona Ulmonova, who also belongs among the Czech women climbing elite with her climbing on competitions and hard sends in her home sandstones area in Labe valley. So she asked Tomas at quite inside matters, e.g his criticism of World Cup organization etc.

So look at the translation of the majority of the interview which they did in the end of the last year during the Czech Championship which he with huge advantage again won.


Tomas Mrazek

photo by Pepe


The competition season 2008 is over. In the last event in Kranj you have finished on 4th place, that cause you had lost the overall victory of the entire World Cup in lead climbing 2008. Are you disappointed?
Before Kranj I was 100 points in advance and the decision basically was among the first three. The route was very bouldery, it has 33 moves and most climbers fell in 22nd one move, no rest and I climbed under the pressure as the last one. I have heard the speaker that Verhoeven is the 2nd and so I knew, that I have to over climb him to win. But I was not able to get more from myself in the route.

It must be terribly stressful when you hear speaker how the others competitors are. I though that on World Cup competitions organizers care about keep such information out from isolation.

Well, it should not be, but what the speaker shall speak about. He must describe how competitors climb, on which position etc. Usually in isolation I have no problem with it, but when it was the last competition and a lot of is in game, it works also against me. This year it has not go, it was the only bit away, but it is sport. Usually nobody from the last position climbs in finals well. Even if he wins semifinals like I did in Kranj. It is difficult as the lest competitor on the start list to relax and maximize your effort.

What is the hardness of the routes in semifinals and finals?

In semifinals it is about 8b+ and finals is 8c.

So how would you evaluate the last season?

Definitely I am satisfied. After the years I did not solve the results too much, the first or second one. Of course that I was the first day upset, because I was very close, but the second day I was again motivated for the next year and first place in the overall World Cup ranking. Failure simply motivates me.

Actually you have competed since 1999. First in juniors, now in adults. Are you not tired? Do you still enjoy competitions after the years or does competitions = work?

Well I would say that part of competitions is work for me, because, if I would not compete, the money from sponsors  only for rock climbing would cover only the surviving minimum. And I need to live in a home etc. so prize money is for me a big motivation. But sure, I take also the competitions as meetings of people and the worlds best climbers, gaining information and trying to amuse people by my climbing performance. The audience would not follow you, you have to go to meet audience. I simply still enjoy competing, but only at the ones that are well organized, where there are things like good walls, service for competitors, large audience, TV broadcasting, good prizes. Simply where you feel, that the sport would progress somewhere. Then there are competitions, that are worse than five years ago, and they demotivate me. 

Recently you have just criticized in Czech climbing magazine Montana the decreasing level of World Cup competitions and the attitude of IFSC.

The level of some World Cup competitions is decreasing, mostly these ones that happen at the same place for several years. For example in Chamonix the competitions are year to year getting worse. It is still harder to find sponsors. Then you have competitions new and well organized. It would be better if the competitions would be offered and sold as complex, money would be earned, organizers would be supported and people attracted. That would increase the level of competitions. The only competition, that makes progress, is the World Championship, which are not under subordination of IFSC. This competition goes in its own way without members of jury from  IFSC and the organizers try to produce it attractive for audience and for competitors. IFSC has had the same president for 20 years, and the only topic, they are interested in, is how to enter to Olympic Games, but it will be there perhaps in 2020 as promotional sport. They have no other ideas, which could move the competitions further and increase their level, and it is bad.


And what was actually the recent atmosphere at World Cup competitions? Are you in contact after the competition season? Do you travel and climb together? Do you train together?

The atmosphere is good. About four years ago we found way to join people together, we are all friends. After all competitions there are after parties, we went to enjoy, relax together. Directly at competitions we support each other. Sure there is competition among us but not in such a way that we would not salute one another. Except some exceptions all are open minded and friendly. Out of the competition field we see each other for example in Innsbruck on the wall on training or somewhere on rocks.


Czech Championship - Prague

photo by Jirka Sika


And what are you doing after the finishing of the season 2008. Rest? Outdoor climbing?

Directly from the Czech Championship here in Prague we go to Spain for two months. We aim to Lleida area. Definitely we would like to climb less in volume, but more hard routes, but well, in some easy mood. Because the first World Cup will start in the beginning of July, not in March, as it used to be, I can afford to leave for longer crag climbing and start with training later. It is super that now lead competitions to the 2nd part of the year and we have only 5 competitions altogether instead of 10 and bouldering vice versa from March till June.

And next year, will you compete again in bouldering?

No, only perhaps three competitions for fun. I like bouldering competitions, they make me happy, and also I take them as preparation for lead competitions. Bouldering competitions are a huge lottery, when one time you are 1st, and then several times you do not enter to finals, it depends a lot on luck. So to win the entire World Cup is hard. But in lead, if you are good enough, you can be almost every time on the podiums.

Tomas Mrazek

Dimablok 2008 Tomas Mrazek (CZE)

photo by © Kairn.com



In 2008 you bouldered a lot outdoor. You were in Fontainebleau. Have you been caught by it?

Really I begin to like outdoor bouldering a lot and it made me a big move further. I do not need nothing more during, I have only a boulder pad, and can try whatever numbers of attempts I would like to, and I like it. For sure in spring we will go to Fontainebleau again.

I thought you even outdoor preferred long endurance routes in front of bouldery ones. Is it because of worry of injury? Or are you not too interested in them?

I can not say that I do not like bouldery routes, but I do not visit areas, where are only bouldery routes. I like areas where I can pick something from every style. On bouldery routes I would rather after these 10-15 meters continue further. Most of all I consider the routes that have 25-30 meters of strength climbing from beginning to end, without rest. And I think it is that this type of routes is the hardest. Harder then short two mover or then 60 meters route with only two boulder problems. But my attitude can be changed, one develops himself and it is good not to close it in some way. It is necessary to climb everything and I do it, but these routes, that I have just described, seem me now the hardest. The other thing is, that at the moment I do not visit Frankenjura also because of injury. I have three times partly cut tendon and every time it was from mono. The last injury was from Spain from Siruana. May be I have weak fingers. I have no problem with two fingers holes, but the mini monos caused me injury every time. Tufas, crimps ..... I do not injure on them and it is the most important for me.

Some time ago you said, that after competitions you have always to go to crags, that you cannot do the only one single thing. And after than, when you begin to compete in bouldering too, are not able to full fill a lot recently. 

For example in 2007 we had reconstructed our house so I trained only for competitions and other time I had to stay home. It is truth that my psych was very bad these times, but in 2008 I was on crags quite a lot, although it is not written anywhere, because I do not present my ascent anywhere.  I am enthusiastic, because full filling my training by rocks improved me enormously. Even on the gym wall I feel technically better. Two previous years I attended 23 competitions in a year, I compete every 2nd weekend in lead or bouldering, I tried the combination as the first one. Because it was not separated as now, in first half of year bouldering, 2nd half lead, I had not practically visited rocks. It was very demanding. Now I rather spend three months in crags, clean my head and will struggle for 1st place in lead then to be in such rush. For me personally the rocks are still base, but it is clear that for 9a nobody will give me anything.


Tomas, Helena Lipenska, Jack

photo by Archive www.tomasmrazek.cz



Do you have any limit, when you would say yourself, you would finish with competitions?

Sure, when some season will come I will not stand anytime on podiums and I will not win any money, then the forthcoming year I will start perhaps on only one competition or nowhere or I will take one year pause. I do not want to attend only and finish in 20th position, as did for example Legrand. The young climbers will come and nobody could be able to sustain in top level competing for 10 years. So if I will be able, I will compete. I am  realistic, I am 26 years old, so if I can keep till maybe 30?

What then? Will you try to give your experience further?

Of course. I do not want to end on street, I will have to work, but not somewhere in factory. We would like to open boulder gym with shop, bar, and teach kids, cooperate with Czech Mountaineering Union. Our life style is as an illness, I can not imagine to go to regular work from 9 till 5 everyday and can not to take  vacation for example for one month, can not go out to rocks.I will try to earn for living by climbing and to keep our freedom, that the climbing live brings. If you are modest ...

Are there climbers whose you respect a lot?

Sure. There are people who are keen in climbing as well as me. For example "crazy" Dani Andrada ... wake up in morning, drills, climbs, drills, he does nothing else. He has got home only guidebooks, if you ask him something he does know, he only climbs.

So climbers by body and soul?

Exactly. There are competitors, who go to crags only to prove by some hard send they are able to do it. Well they are afraid, but old women climb 8b+/8c and the world class 9a, but they do not need it internally, they only want to present it to their surroundings. These people never would pack up for one month rock trip. So I do not respect these ones.
 

Tomas Mrazek

photo by © Azbest


Does your tattoo mean anything?

Well, dragon means I climb like a dragon. Then the other colorful they are a bit crazy, simply I got an itch for tattooing, a friend from Hodonin made it(town on South Moravia, CZ). tattoo is a such deviation, I have already know I will have some another. It has nothing connected with climbing, it may be some type of exhibitionism, I like it.

What do you say to chipped routes? Do you mind it?

I do not agree with chipping, but I do not mind too much. I would not climb such routes, but whatever you go they are there. Sensitively modified routes- glued original holds that broke off, slightly filed off edges of pockets, I could not have anything against it, but I hate fully changed/ chipped or new glued holds. But on the other side, I cannot say I would not enjoy to climb the routes like this.

You actually used to train on the World Champion on small walls? Today there are a lot of superb indoor walls, excellent training conditions, but except Martin Stranik and Silva Rajfova no one else does not succeed on World Cups. Where is the error?

You can train well on anything, but motivation is necessary. I used to train first at Fritak, in Kotelna and then at Tufi´s home (all are small or home bouldering gyms in Brno). I climbed on board still rounds on bad sandstones holds and I had to train more to be able to follow the others who had good conditions abroad. Today the conditions are excellent. If I would had had ten years ago such good conditions as people have today , I would be maybe 10 x better. And if I would had begun 3x a week on big good walls like these that are in Prague now, than I would be able to compete with myself. Perhaps there is not motivation or I do not know, why the young climb just for fun and do not want to go with to the wider competition.


Tomas Mrazek - Kinematix

photo by Maciek Oczko

What about to climb some routes on Czech traditional sandstones?

I had not had motivation and also time to go there, but the last couple years I would even travel there. I like sandstones, I go often to boulder to Moravian sands. Climbing on sandstones is although about something else, the routes from Labe valley looks from photos marvelous, I have got moral, and I hope that chalk would be approved in March (on Czech Mountaineering Union assembly).

So the main problem that you do not go there is chalk?

Well, sure, It is clear when if I go there on Wednesday, that on Thursday someone post somewhere my photo with chalk. I go to competitions and I am depending on Czech Mountaineering Union. I am sorry, but I hope it will perhaps go in the right way.

What climbed routes do you appreciate most?

I do not know. I take it very much by feelings. I appreciate every ...8a, 8b... May be I do not try anything so hard, I would say well it would be super. I think that I have reserves in it. I will let it on the year 2009 ...., perhaps I will climb 9a+, 9b, that I will try more than 2 days and I will have to pay effort on it. Up to now I am very lazy and climb it easy.

In the end I will ask, how is your crag rest day?

On rest days I take rest, do not climb, sometimes go to trip, sometimes I am fishing outdoor on rod.


It will be a dinner ...

photo by Archive www.tomasmrazek.cz


Tomas, thank you for interview and I wish you a lot of success on crags and competitions.



photo by Archiv www.tomasmrazek.cz


Climbing diary of Tomas Mrazek

Results of the World Competitions

Personal blog of Tomas Mrazek

Sponzors of Tomas: Rock Pillars, Ocún, CHS, Alpine Pro, Chillaz, Lapis, Dukla, Vertical, TR-steny, CzechClimbing.com.

Simona   [edit] 18:58 03.02.2009Print 

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