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Alannah Yip is Having her Best Season to Date

The 2019 Canadian Bouldering Champ chats about speed climbing and challenges of a long season

Alannah Yip says she’s feeling great as the 2019 Lead World Cup season gets underway today in Villars, Switzerland. Currently ranked 9th in the world, the current national bouldering champion has had an incredible competition season so far, making semi-finals in all five bouldering World Cups she attended and broke her personal best speed record twice.

Alannah Yip at the Moscow WC, 2019. Photo courtesy of IFSC

With eyes on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics, Yip is midway through a highly demanding competition schedule. After only a month since the last bouldering event in Vail, she will compete in three lead, and two speed World Cups in July, followed by the World Championships (in all three disciplines) in August, and potentially in the combined-format, Olympic qualifying event, held immediately afterwards. And the lead season carries on into fall.

Needless to say, Yip has been busy. We caught up with her to get a glimpse of her world these days.

You’re having a great season so far! Is there anything in particular you credit your success to?
AY: Thanks! I credit my success this year to an amazing support team and also hard and smart training.

Which comp would you say was your favourite of the circuit?
AY: I think Meiringen was my favourite comp this year. It’s such a beautiful place, a little Swiss mountain town, and the setting was really good.

Alannah Yip at the Meiringen WC, 2019. Photo courtesy of IFSC

You’re competing in all three disciplines. We know speed climbing is relatively new for you, did you start out bouldering or climbing routes?
AY: I started rope climbing, because back when I was a youth competitor there were no youth bouldering competitions (other than locals). So, I have always done both disciplines!

We’d love some insight into the speed climbing world!
a. How have you enjoyed (or not?) training and competing in speed competitions?

AY: I really enjoy training and competing in speed, it’s a very different type of training and competition from bouldering or lead. Although the training might seem very repetitive and not as interesting as training for the other disciplines, I’m still at a level where I am always working on technique or focusing on specific moves. I think it’s more interesting this way, it feels like I am chasing “perfection” on each move in training.

b. Does it feel like a big diversion from your base skill-set or is it not as foreign as it looks (for a typical boulderer, let’s say)?
AY: It’s interesting – at a beginner level, the speed route is just like regular climbing, only as fast as possible. I find that the better/more trained at it you are, the more it just feels like vertical sprinting. I guess that’s simply due to knowing the route so well.

Personally I have always been more of a sprinter than a long distance athlete, so it doesn’t feel as foreign for me as it might for others. Being more of a boulderer right now I have quite a lot of power so I find that translates pretty well.

c. How hard is the route you’re racing on?
AY: It’s hard to say exactly, but it’s definitely harder if you climb it statically as many of the moves are quite large.

Alannah Yip in Wujiang, 2019. Photo courtesy of IFSC

Can you speak about some of the challenges of such a long competition schedule (e.g., physical, mental, logistical) and how you work through those challenges?
AY: Physically the long competition season this year is tiring, and having almost no time off for training makes it complicated. That’s why I skipped the domestic lead season – I needed to put time into training. Peaking at the right time is complicated too. You want to be in good shape for every comp obviously, but you can’t physically peak for 8 months. And then the World Championships, the first Olympic qualifying competition, is right in the middle. My coach and I choose the parts of the year it’s most important to peak, and tailor my training schedule accordingly. I also listen to my body and adjust my training as necessary.

The long season is also mentally exhausting. Competing takes up a lot of mental energy. I have had problems with long comp seasons before where I get halfway and then get burned out. This past year I have made a much bigger effort to balance my life with things other than climbing. Mountain biking and backcountry skiing are now two of my favourite things for mentally recharging.

Logistically this season has been easier than any previous season, as the CEC is organizing some of the trips for us.

You’ve had a bit of time off from competing and spent some time outside. How are you feeling about the lead World Cups around the corner?
AY: I feel really good! Having a good chunk of time at home to train and see friends and family again was great. I love travelling, but it’s stressful. It makes me appreciate even more the time I get to spend at home.

Good luck Alannah! We will be cheering for you!
AY: Thanks! I am really excited for the Lead WCs. I have done quite a few in the past, but have never done very well. This year I feel much fitter though!

Yip’s Results at 2019 Boulder World Cups
Meiringen (15th)
Moscow (9th)
Chongqing (8th)
Wujiang (17th)
Vail (15th)

Yip’s Results at 2019 Speed World Cups (to date)
Moscow – 9.509 seconds (33rd)
Chongqing – 11.152 seconds (53rd)
Wujiang – 9.449 seconds (29th)
Villars – 9.598 seconds (28th)