GB Bouldering Team member Michaela Tracy took first place in a recent open masters event in Warsaw, Poland - called 'Bloco Masters' - where she finished ahead of the country's top female boulderers.
Michaela had heard about the competition from some friends she had met on the World Cup circuit. She told UKC:
'It seemed a little crazy to go all the way there on my own, but I had never been to Poland before; I had heard that Bloco was a really cool wall, and importantly that they played great techno. This competition also seemed like a great opportunity to practise competition style problems, especially in the World Cup final format, before the start of the season. I recognised the names of the route-setters from the World Cups, so I knew that the standard of the problems would be really high.'
Michaela dominated the qualifying round as well as the finals, flashing two of the final problems. Commenting on the competition itself, Michaela was impressed with the problems and organisation:
'I definitely wasn't disappointed. Firstly the qualifier format was really fun, you had 40 problems and no limit on the number of attempts, your score was based only on whether you did the boulder/got the bonus or not. The problems were really well considered, and it was great to be able to try them without the pressure of attempts.'
'It seems like the Polish style is very dynamic and there were loads of coordination jumps where you have to move multiple limbs at the same time, as well as more typical power problems. The finals also were really well organised, great music, really good atmosphere - such a huge crowd of people watching, and more amazing problems. Obviously part of the reason you go to a competition is to win, but it's also great when you can be battling with a problem, trying to figure it out, just thinking: this is such a good problem, so much fun!'
With a busy year ahead of combining competitions with her university studies, it's back to training for now:
'I'm planning on doing a full World Cup season this year. There's a really great atmosphere for training in Sheffield at the moment, loads of really psyched people - which is good because the weather has been terrible!'
In 2016, Michaela achieved 7th and 8th place in two rounds of the Bouldering World Cup and finished 12th overall.
Read a UKC interview with Michaela.