Vail World Cup: Faces and On-the-Spot Q&A

We picked the brains of a whole bunch of the weekend’s competitors. We asked them about the routes and venue, as well as had a bit of fun with them by challenging them with some trivia about classic outdoor climbs.

By Rock and Ice, Photos by Levi Harrell | June 11th, 2018

Row 1 (left to right): Nathaniel Coleman, Meagan Martin, Jernej Kruder, Gregor Vezonik; Row 2: , Margo Hayes, Sean Bailey, Alex Puccio, Kai Lightner; Row 3: Alex Khazanov, Shauna Coxsey, Mickael Mawem, Brooke Raboutou. Photos: Levi Harrell.


 

Rock and Ice set up shop at the GoPro Mountain Games for the weekend in Vail, Colorado, where we reported on all the goings-on, most important being the second-to-last IFSC World Cup of the season. The R&I tent was right near the stage so we had front-row seats to all the action in the men’s and women’s qualifers, semis and finals (read about it here). 

We connected with a whole bunch of the athletes as they milled around the stage, interacted with fans, signed posters and sought refuge from the 90-degree heat. We picked their brains about the routes and venue, and had a bit of fun with them with some trivia questions about classic outdoor climbs. They were all good sports and gave their best guesses, some of which we got a real kick out of (and at least one of them got one correct!).


 

Alex Puccio

28, Boulder, Colorado

 

Photo: Levi Harrell

What did you think of the routes?

Very physical, full-body. You had to get into weird shapes and do everything. There wasn’t as much straight pulling [as usual]. I think I scraped my head or chin at one point. I had a lot of fun. It was the right balance between technical and physical.

 

What do you think of Vail?

I love Vail. This is one of my favorite World Cups.

 

Can you tell us what the Exum Ridge is?

Um, it’s a ridge around here in Vail? Or I would say a ridge in Colorado.

 

What are the Stovelegs?

I’m assuming this is four towers somewhere. A stove has four legs, right?


 

Sean Bailey

22, Seattle, Washington

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What did you think of the routes?

Super physical. The body positions have been a little tougher in previous World Cups. Holding positions was harder. [Here] moving between the holds has been harder. It’s less technical but a lot more physical.

 

How do you like Vail?

Oh, I love it. My grandpa lives here. We used to come every winter to go skiing and hiking. I’m staying with him. He’s here somewhere. He used to come to all my youth comps.

 

What is the Exum Ridge?

My gosh, I have no idea.

 

Teflon Corner?

Man, you guys are just doing me dirty, cuz I feel like it’s important stuff I should know. I need to get more into that stuff, but it’s hard with so much time in the gym and not outside.


 

Margo Hayes

20, Boulder, Colorado

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What were the routes like in Qualifiers?

Great. Set really well. I don’t necessary know if they were my style … I’ve definitely got a lot to learn still for World Cup climbing.

 

How do you like Vail?

It’s my fourth time here. I wasn’t here last year. I love it. It makes me really nostalgic because I used to do youth comps here.

 

Do you know what the Stovelegs are?

I don’t know. Is that like sewing machine leg?

 

Do you know what the Exum Ridge is?

Um… Is it in the Himalayas?


 

Alex Khazanov

23, Haifa, Israel

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What were the routes like in Qualifiers?

There were four overhanging problems, one slab. The chief setter is notorious for setting powerful problems. I’m a powerful climber so I I like this stuff. Overall it was fun and diverse though.

 

How do you like Vail?

It’s probably my favorite event of the year. I made my first semis here in 2016. I enjoy it too because it’s a big festival and chill—the climbing is only one part of it. Also we stay in a really nice apartment. [laughs]

 

Do you know what the Teflon Corner is?

No…. Is it on the Nose or something?

 

Do you know what the Exum Ridge is?

I wanna say it’s in Yosemite…. Maybe Zion… Is it something Alex Honnold free soloed? Ask me about European things!


 

Meagan Martin

27, Boulder, Colorado

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What did you think of the routes?

They were hard, definitely super tricky. I didn’t climb my best, but it wasn’t the fault of the routes.

 

How do you like Vail?

It’s nice but it’s hard to breathe.

 

What is the Exum Ridge?

A place in the mountains?

 

What are the Stovelegs?

I think they’re in New Zealand?


 

Mickael Mawem

27, Grenoble, France

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What were the routes like in Qualifiers?

So cool. The all-wood [wall] is very technical and physical, and you need to climb well. It is very different to climb here. You need precision and speed because of the altitude. If you climb slowly with a lot of power then it’s difficult to finish.

[Many] climbers have bottles of oxygen. If you climb slowly it’s difficult to recover, and you need a lot of oxygen. I have never seen this before. In my climbing, I, what is the word, ventilate[d] a lot, a lot, a lot.

 

What do you think of Vail?

It’s a little city and so cool. All people come here for all sports.

 

What is the Exum Ridge?

[laughs] What is that? I don’t understand that. My English …

 

What is the Teflon Corner?

Corner is OK. I understand. Teflon? What is that?


 

Brooke Raboutou

17, Boulder, Colorado

 

Photo: Alison Osius.

What did you think of the routes? Very fun climbing. The routes were thought-out and the moves unique.

 

What do you think of Vail? I love Vail. I come here sometimes to ski and of course to climb, because I live just down the road. It’s a great atmosphere, great little town. This is my second year competing here, the second year I was [old enough to be] eligible.

 

What is the Exum Ridge? What is … sorry, what?

 

The Stovelegs? I don’t know. [laughs] Is this a place?


 

Kai Lightner

18, Boston, Massachusetts

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What were the routes like in Qualifiers?

I really like World Cups. They challenge you in multiple ways. Today you had to be able to climb powerful, compression and slabby problems. I’d say they did a good job—well set.

 

How do you like Vail?

It’s like a paradise village. The altitude is a serious factor in the climbing. I think there would have been a lot more tops if there had been more time after the last World Cup.

 

Do you know what the Teflon Corner is?

Maybe some really hard crack climb? Or like some offwidth or something?

 

Do you know what the Exum Ridge is?

I actually have no idea where to begin.


 

Jernej Kruder

27, Celje, Slovenia

 

Photo: Levi Harrell.

What were the routes like in Qualifiers?

They were very American. The problems were long, with many moves, and the crux was usually the last move. Haven’t seen that style for a while in Vail. It reminds me of the problems back in 2010, my first time in finals. [Kruder, sporting a hand-print shaved atop his head, placed fourth that year, while Daniel Woods of the USA won gold.]

 

How do you like Vail?

Vail is a great city, one of my favorites. I love the festival. It kind of gives off a feeling similar to Europe. I used to live close to Austria and Switzerland and it’s similar. The atmosphere in the Rockies is not my favorite though [laughs]–I’m a bit spoiled because I lived so close to Switzerland and the Alps for so long. I would really like to climb in Rifle, though.

 

Do you know what the Teflon Corner is?

[laughs] I do know this one! I climbed on Freerider in November, so yes, I know the Teflon Corner.

 

What is the Exum Ridge?

Sounds like an American route. I’m guessing trad, single pitch?


 

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