Interview with Speed Climbing Champion: Steffi Pichler

Sundays ago I had a great brunch with the fastest speed climbing girl from Austria, Steffi Pichler. Since it was a hot day we wanted to have a big meal in a comfort place, we chose Strandbar Hermann because of the idea of brunching with barefoot on the sand. We stepped in to check out their organic breakfast;  soon we noticed it was not enough food to fulfill our hunger. They offered bread, eggs, butter and jam. We decided to move on and look for a bigger meal. By that time it was midday and we were starving, Steffi came right after her climbing training, you bet she was pretty hungry. We walked by the river hoping to find a fast and good restaurant, lucky us, few blocks is Motto am fluss cafe. It was full of course but we managed to have a table for two.

As soon as we sat down we looked to the menu, order our meals and drinks (beer is mine, green juice Steffi’s) and then we started chatting…



AF: Tell us about you

SP: Hi I’m steffi and I am just a girl who likes climbing…as fast as possible! I’m 23 years old and I was born in Gaflenz, a small town in Upper Austria! After school I went to vienna for studying sports science at the university. This changed my lifestyle completely.


Fitness/Sports Background

AF: How come you decide to do speed climbing as a sport?

SP: My whole family was a climbing family so I just wanted to climb as well like my 3 older brothers. So I started with five years. First only bouldering (climbing on low height with a mat under the wall) because I was afraid of the height. But I think this was a big advantage for me learning and improving the right climbing technique, concentrate on the basic! One thing I learned from my new coach!

AF: Do you have a side sport you also enjoy?

SP: As a child i tried a lot sports. I’m a “country girl” and had the luck to run outside and play with others everyday. But I also tried competition in running, cycling, duathlon, gymnastics, a lot of regional ski races… Now I focus on my speed climbing training. Luckily it is reaaally varied! I do a lot of strength training, little bit of crossfit things, athletics (sprinting, jumping), bouldering and of course speed climbing. But I really like mobility stuff like yoga style. I recognize it is really useful for my sport and strength in general.

AF: What keeps you on track to reach your sport and personal goals?

SP: Having a goal!!! This is sometimes the most difficult but absolutely the most important thing reaching goals. Because there are big differences in building goals!
You need a goal YOU really desire, or what you would change your life and put all in. And you need the rigth people around you. Luckily I think I found my people with them I want to go my way to reach all my goals!!
I had a quite good coach for 5 years until last year. Philipp Unfried, one of the best athletics coaches in austria. I learned a lot from him and improved my skills a lot, but after some time you need something different to improve.

So I tried crossfit because I thought it could be good for a climber. I went to the biggest and really best crossfit box in vienna Triller Crossfit and met the owner and now my new coach Richard Staudner. He did what I was looking for…changing nearly all of my training. He changed how I look onto my sport, strength training, nutrition and some psychological things. Thats what I like the most about him…he can give me advices in all belongings or he tries to find somebody who can help me. For my specific speed climbing training I also had some improvements the last year. My hometown Gaflenz built a new climbing gym with a standard speedwall, where i can train as much as i want.

AF: How important is mobility training in your program?

SP: In my opinion very important. For climbing general you have to be flexible and you should have strength in each body position.
For speed climbing you also need a lot of power in high knees and so in your hips. And for strength training I just can propose it for really will improve you strength.


AF: How do you manage your priorities & time to reach your goals?

SP: I had sometimes the problem to manage my priorities. I wanted to be fast at university, being the best in climbing and also earning money with giving climbing classes.
But I recognize, or my mother told me, I should focus on one thing and do the others by the way. Now I choose climbing…that is the right time now. I put all in, try to do some tests at university and give climbing classes because i like it.


AF: What goes through your mind right before you start a competition?

SP: I focus just on me. I trust myself…thats what I trained for..I can do that.
Everything and everybody becomes not important. I really like this moments. I train a lot mentally to exactly get in this mode.

AF: How important is mindset for you?
SP: I think thats the difference between champions and just good sportsmen/women.

AF: How do you manage stress?
SP: I try to focus on ME and decide what is important at this moment…living in the “now” is a good recipe for reducing immediately stress.
For long time you need some things you really like to do…for me its sport or playing violin or meeting friends for different thoughts.

steffi pichlerinterview2


AF: How important is nutrition for you?

SP: Thats the thing which changed absolutely when I went to vienna.
Before I didn’t look as much on nutrition. I just looked to eat as healthy as it was said to be healthy or my mother thought it would be. It was not a big problem because I did a lot normal lead climbing (climbing with rope as high as much strength endurance training). But the I changed to speed and bouldering and my training time got less… because I need a lot of power work and quality in my training. In Vienna I met richard and Tom Kampitsch (from crossfoods). They introduced me in to a clean, little bit paleo, keto, veggie healthy nutrition style. Which i like a lot.

Photo Credit: Steffi Pichler Facebook

Months after having our meals that sunday at Motto am Fluss, Steffi Pichler the fastest girl in Austria won Mrs. Desaster 2015 tittle and now is preparing for the Speed Climbing Austrian Cup 2015.

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