Alex Johnson's World Cup Win: Exclusive Interview
5/18/10 - At the first Bouldering World Cup of the 2010 season in Greifensee, Switzerland, Alex Johnson blitzed the European-drenched field, taking the gold. Though the female competitors were climbing fiercely, none topped out the final problem. Still, Johnson managed to eke out a victory by getting all the bonus holds with the least number of tries. (Pictures to follow soon.) Kilian Fischhuber of Austria took the men's gold, with Adam Ondra of the Czech Republic and Italian Christian Core taking silver and bronze. Behind Johnson were Akiyo Noguchi of Japan and Chloe Graftiaux of Belgium.
This isn't 21-year-old Johnson's first gold in a World Cup. In 2008 at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado, Johnson celebrated a strong victory alongside Fischhuber. She also took a silver medal at the 2009 World Cup in Vail.
The Hudson, Wisconsin, native plans to attend all bouldering World Cups this year – unusual for an American competitor. She is currently living in Innsbruck, Austria, training and traveling with the Austrian team.
Why did you decide to compete in all the World Cups? My motivation to compete internationally is mostly for myself, and to gain the experience seeing how I'd measure up in foreign comps. We also don't have a traveling U.S. Team, and when the European competitors come to Vail, they always ask why nobody comes to Europe for any World Cups. When I showed up in Switzerland, everyone was psyched to finally have an American in the mix.
What's your game plan? The same as for every comp: show up and have fun.
What was your first World Cup experience like? I was incredibly nervous! I couldn't eat for two days before the comp. I was so excited just to make finals that after qualifying I didn't care what the end result was. The rest was just for fun.
Were you nervous in Switzerland? I was really excited to be competing in an international World Cup, finally! I was most nervous the first day, and pretty worried about trying to get acclimated to the awkward setting style. It's also pretty intimidating watching everybody warm up in isolation.
What were your expectations going in? I honestly had zero expectations going in. I was looking at this first World Cup as a learning experience for the rest of the season. My goal was just to try to get into the finals, and I knew that alone was going to be tough.
How did it feel to win in a typically Euro-ruled comp? This is going to sound crazy, but I seriously don't feel like I deserve it. I am by far not the best, nor the strongest, girl competing. There are more than 10 girls who could come out on top on any given day. I honestly just had a really lucky night. If the finals problems would have been the same as qualifiers or semi-finals, things would have been completely different.
How are you preparing for the next WC in Austria? I'll just be climbing in the gym with friends, having fun, same as always!
What's your training regimen? My training consists of climbing outside if the weather is nice, or climbing in the gym for a couple hours a day a few days a week. Sometimes I'll do Climb-Fit workouts if I'm feeling extremely motivated. And drinking Oreo milkshakes.
What’s your mindset going into these major international comps? Initially, I wanted to prove that I belonged with this group of dominating girls, but I suppose maybe now I've already made my point, ha ha. I think I surprised the hell out of a lot of people, myself included. From now on, I'm just going to try to do the best I can and always take something away from the experience.
Do you feel like you have a "home advantage" for the WC in Vail? Absolutely! It'll be fun to return to a setting style I'm used to, and great to have an American crowd, my family, friends, and the rest of the U.S. Team.
- Nine Dead from Avalanche on Mont Blanc
- Freed from the Undertow (5.11+) on CO's Black Wall
- Barking Mad: RRG's Madness Cave in a Day
- Puigblanque Snags Second Ascent of Catxasa (5.15a)
- Pringle Makes FA of 5.14d in Nevada