“Competing for fun” – Angelika Rainer

I’m quite a competitive person. When I’m in a competition, I enjoy comparing myself to the other climbers, trying hard and giving my best in that precise moment of the competition. Through taking part in lots of events all over the world, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s okay not to come first and to just enjoy myself.

I started climbing when I was 12 and only a few months later I entered my first local competition. From that first experience, I progressed to national youth competitions, European youth cups and senior national events. I started competing in 2006 and in 2008 I decided to leave the competitive sport climbing scene and move to ice climbing. Since then, it’s been my main focus and I’ve taken part in 12 ice climbing world cup seasons.

I consider myself lucky to have achieved many amazing victories. In 2008, I won the ice climbing world cup competition for the first time and, in 2009, I won the world championship, which was quite a surprise because I didn’t consider myself one of the main contenders.

After these two successes, however, my mindset started to change, as often happens to athletes after the first success. I started to approach every competition with the goal to win. This obviously didn’t work out at every competition and occasionally I would go home very disappointed, while sometimes I just accepted that it was not my best day and rhat other athletes had a perfect day and simply deserved to win.

Competing also the gives me the chance to travel, to see new places and to meet up with friends from all over the world. That’s the way I try to look at competitions. And I always try to go out with a smile on my face. I smile at the audience and I smile at the route I have to climb because I am happy to be there.

However, if you train for your goals for months and dedicate years of your life to trying to achieve your objectives, there is pressure. I won three world championships in a row in 2009, 2011 and 2013. In 2015, at my home world championship I placed second, only the time deciding between first and second place because we both climbed the final route to the top. I think it was then that the will to win again grew inside me and I started to put quite a bit of pressure on myself.

Over the past few years, I have worked on some outdoor projects both on ice and on rock. This year, I decided to leave more space for those projects and to not participate in the ice climbing world cup. After so many years, the decision to stop was quite hard. It was an important part of my life and I loved it. But, I didn’t retire completely! Instead, I entered the European cup competitions and I promised myself to do it for fun. Three of the four competitions were in new venues, which is always exciting and it gave me the opportunity to see many of the world cup friends I would otherwise have missed. I had a great time, I gave it my best and I won the European cup. I also participated in the international mixed climbing competition in Ouray, Colorado, and won for the second time since 2015.

I realise that competitions are still part of my life. I’m not going to give them up yet. I’ll leave it open to decide if I want to take part in competitions and which ones. No pressure, just fun.

Head over to Angelika’s website to hear more about her climbing, or follow her on Instagram here.