Reinhold-Würth Cup 2016

Jó napot peeps!

So last weekend I fenced my first Senior World Cup. I know what you’re thinking 22 and only just fencing your first world cup Steph… what a chump.

Now that I’m living in Budapest, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with the Hungarians to Germany for the competition. And let me tell you, travelling with a legit team (even if they’re not actually my team) was awesome. The drive roughly took 10ish hours to get to Tauberbischofsheim, stopping a couple of times along the way for toi toi breaks, or as I like to call them wifi breaks 😉

So the deal is with most world cups, is that you fence the pools and any prelim tables on the Friday, the round of 64 through to the finals is on the Saturday, and then the team event is held on the Sunday. So we travelled on Thursday.

Weapons control was ridiculously weird. They only tested gloves, lames and masks… body wires and your foils were completely ignored. Which was super strange, but at the same time kinda cool. Like if your stuff doesn’t work and you turn up on the piste with it, then you kinda deserve to be carded. It just teaches you, that you need to be responsible with your own gear, and make sure everything is working before you compete (including making sure your foils hold weight!).

No big deal, but there were 17 pools… there were so many that the start times were staggered at 9am and 11am. I fenced my pool at 9am, which to be honest was better than starting at 11am. It meant the entire venue was free for everyone to warm up, and if you wanted someone to do a warm up bout with, you didn’t have to worry about if they were fencing in a pool or not already…

Once all of the pools had finished the preliminary table took place, and that lead to the fencers who would compete in the 64 the next day. So it’s actually pretty confusing to understand how this works… I’ll try and explain it the best way I can (if I’m wrong, my bad): the top 16 fencers in the world according to the FIE ranking list are exempt from pools, and are automatically promoted to the table of 64. Also the top 16 from the pools are automatically promoted to the next day. Unfortunately the bottom 20% is cut so normally you have to win two bouts to make the cut. Leaving the rest to fence in the preliminary table, until there are 32 fencers left. The completely ridiculous thing though is if you fenced your pool at 9am, the first prelim round of DEs didn’t start until roughly 2:45pm! That’s a crazy long time to be hanging around waiting to fence, and remember this is just the first day.

The next day for the table of 64 is even more crazy. For the 64 onwards they only use coloured pistes, meaning there’s only four pistes for all of the matches. Which means it’s so slow. The way that the run the bouts is pretty efficient though. Each match is allocated a time and the only start the bouts at that time, regardless of if the previous bout finishes earlier. So this means the first match may be at 8:30am, but the last match of the 64 might not be until 11:30am. So you basically just turn up to the venue with enough time to warm up before your personal start time.

Unfortunately I didn’t make the cut after pools, it’s something I’m still working on achieving. And it’s ridiculously hard. Personally I think that cutting the bottom 20% from pools is something we should consider implementing in New Zealand, even if just at Nationals. I get that we don’t exactly have large numbers of competitors, but it encourages you to really fight in pools. We seem to have this attitude of ‘oh it’s just pools, I’ll make up for it in the DE’. But if you truly fudge up in pools here then you simply won’t get a chance to fix it in the DE. It’s a good learning lesson.

Coming to competitions like this one, just motivates me even more. If you get the chance to go to any competition, anywhere in the World I employ you to do it. Regardless of if it’s a local competition, or something like World Champs. Even if you get you butt whooped, the experience you’ll gain is 100% worthwhile.

 

The past three months – 17/12/15

It’s 17th of December, and I’m back in New Zealand (well actually I’ve been back since the end of September, and just haven’t posted anything on here… oops). And in just under 6 weeks I’m off again to Budapest, where I’ll be spending the rest of the year. Wooh! But yeah, I thought I’d do a little summary of what I’ve been up to since I got back and the last wee bit of my trip.

So I think the last time I posted, I was taking the train back from London. And let me tell you, that was draining. Legit all you do is sit on a train, but dang I wanted to sleep like crazy. I took the EuroStar from London to Brussels (since it was wayyy cheaper than via Paris), and then caught another train to Frankfurt where I stayed for the night. And the the next day I caught a train back to Budapest via Vienna.

Real talk for a minute though: using the trains as your mode of transport in Europe is super legit. However, they can be ridiculously expensive. So I would highly recommend getting something like a EURail pass if you’re wanting to cover large distances, because you can go really far on one travel day. But it really pays to plan ahead and decide where you wanna go. In some cases it can be cheaper just to jump on a cheeky budget airline. I will say though, that taking the trains is super chill and you get to see so much of the countryside that you can’t even see from the roads.

Back to Budapest, I was there for a few more days before my parents arrived!!! Which was super cool, it was their first time being in Budapest. So I was pretty stoked to be able to show them around. Obvious highlight was going back to the zoo and seeing the sloths.

After a few days in Budapest we flew down to Croatia where we stayed for most of September, spending various amounts of time in Split, Korcula, Hvar and Dubrovnik.

I was lucky enough to have Sasha fly down from London for a few days while I was in Croatia, where she took me over to her family’s place on Hvar. And oh my word, it’s beautiful. The house is right in the middle of this massive bay, where there’s maybe two other houses. It’s ridiculous. Don’t even get me started on how bad the roads are… but dang it’s beautiful. A highlight was lying down on the beach at night watching the stars, and paddle boarding (even though Sasha pushed me in, ruuude).

After Croatia we caught a cheeky flight over to Rome, where we spent a few nights just exploring the city, and feasting on some delicious Italian food. I was a bit hesitant actually going to Italy, to me it wasn’t somewhere that I felt I had to go. But honestly, my opinion about the place has completely changed. Rome is incredible, the amount of history that you’re submerged in as soon as you arrive is crazy. And the food, the pizza, the pasta, the wine, the coffee….. uhhh. My belly sure had a good time.

From Rome we flew down to Dubai, where we stopped for a couple of nights before heading back home. I gotta say, Dubai is unbelievable. You have to go, it’s incredible. Everything is so big, and so new, and so just wow. We went up the Burj Khalifa, which is currently the tallest building in the world. Where the lift takes you to the top in a matter of seconds. Like what?! And the Mall of Dubai, who dang. What a place. Just inside the mall there’s an ice skating rink, an aquarium, there’s a SEGA indoor theme park and oh yeah something like 1200 stores. Plus free wifi. I stumbled upon the book store just as we were leaving and died. It was beautiful. Oh and I even went diving in an aquarium at the hotel we stayed at. It was like no big deal. Just diving with a heck of a lot of sharks and rays everywhere. The tank was atlantis themed and this one fish tried to like swim into my face because I got close to its crystal. That fish was real territorial over a rock…  And on our last day we went into the desert. Just incase you were wondering dune boarding is no where near as cool as it sounds. Stick to snowboarding, it’s more fun.

And that’s about it.

Since I’ve been back I’ve had a few fencing competitions. I won my first open regional champs, which was pretty neat. I came second at senior nationals losing to Ping in the final. And I also popped over to Aus for the Oceanic and Australian Open Champs, where I came 16th in individuals and 2nd in the teams. It’s an alright way to end the season I guess.

And yeah, ciao for now – Steph.

 

 

 

I’m still alive – 20/08/15

Well hi, it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted on here. I think the last post I made was just before I went to Vienna for the weekend. Man, that feels like such a long time. Right now, it’s 12:54 on Thursday the 20th of August, and I’m making my way back to Budapest. I’ve just been in London for the past week visiting a few friends, super casual.

Over the past few weeks I’ve travelled a fair few km, and I highly recommend trains as a mode of transport in Europe, planes are simply a waste of time and just a hassle. My recent flight to London confirmed this for me when my airline lost my bag. Truly fun times. So if you ever find yourself in Europe and want to travel around and explore, get yourself a EURail pass. They come in a range options, all with different country options, time periods etc. I’ve got the flexi global pass, which basically means I have ten days where I can travel anywhere in Europe within a two month period. It was 538 euros (ouch) but within just a couple of days it’s paid for itself.

Vienna

So the first lil trip I took with my pass was to Vienna, the only time I’d ever been to Vienna was when we flew into it a couple of years back and drove down to Lake Balaton in Hungary. So I was a little curious to see what the city was like. Vienna’s beautiful, but not my favourite place that I’ve been to. If you’re a history/museum nut you’ll love Vienna, there’s literally a museum for everything.

Geneva

My trip to Geneva was really when the fun times began for Steph (with regards to trains). Before I go any further I just want to mention that night trains are truly a great way to quickly get from one city to another, however you should book them early and if you want to travel comfortably get yourself a sleeper bunk. Being my casual self I only booked my night train reservation a couple of days before the trip, and all of the beds were taken. So I had a seat. Which is just like an airplane seat, that doesn’t recline. I will mention that your night train experience ultimately depends on the other people in your carriage. To start off with there were two french guys about my age (also travelling on eurail passes) and three guys. I was very thankful when they got off at Vienna leaving only four of us in the carriage for the rest of the night to Zürich, spaaaaaaace.

Anyway, the reason I went to Geneva was to go and take a tour at CERN. Which was INCREDIBLE. They have free tours for the public, and dang. I got to see the very first particle accelerator that was built back in 1957, and a testing facility for the Large Hadron Collider. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go down to the LHC, but considering it’s a free tour, I wasn’t complaining. The best thing about the tour was definitely being able to learn a bit more about what they’re doing at CERN. Obviously about 99.98% of what they do just completely goes over my head. But they explained how the accelerators work, and the differences between the different accelerators and lots of other things. Fun fact the world wide web was created at CERN, turns out it didn’t just appear out of thin air, it was created by someone. Crazy huh.

Zürich

So after Geneva I caught the train to Zürich and spent a night there. Zürich is a beautiful city, but I didn’t really have much time there. I walked around the old city and explored a bit of the lake. I’d definitely like to go back to Switzerland.

Bad Aibling

A few years back now one of my friends Miri came on a school exchange to Wentworth in New Zealand, we were on the ski team together and have been friends ever since. I’ve visited her in Germany three times now. We don’t get to see each other very much, but I really enjoy being able to stop in and catch up.

I think that’s all I’ll write for now. My stomach is wanting food, no surprises there. Ciao for now, stay tuned for London! – Steph.

Back in Budapest – 23/07/15

So I’m back in Budapest (yay) and damn, it’s hot. I’m slowly melting away… The only way I can describe being in 40 degree heat, is imagine you’ve got a hair dryer up to your body, except that’s just the wind. It’s intense. But yeah, I’ve been here for almost a week and it’s pretty chill. I’ll be based here for the next month or so until my parents fly over. Here’s a few things that I’ve been up to:

City Park:

So basically just across the road is the City Park here in Budapest, which is massive. According to wikipedia it’s about 302 acres, or 1.2km squared. And basically it’s made up of the Zoo, the Circus and Amusement Park, the Széchenyi Bath House, Vajdahunyad Castle, Heroes Square, Museum of Fine Arts, Palace of Art and a butt load of park land. But basically every time I come to Budapest, City Park is usually the first place I visit. Fun fact: on the outskirts of the park is Stefánia utca, obviously the coolest street in Budapest 😉

 

Heroes Square

  
    
 

Saint Stephen’s Basilica:

A little history lesson for you here; Saint Stephen’s Basilica was finished in 1905 and was named after the first King of Hungary (975-1038), and his right hand is actually preserved inside of the church, commonly known as the zombie hand! I’m not exactly a religious person, but visiting the basilica is always a must do. For a small fee you can go up to the top of the dome, which according to wikipedia is 364 steps up… but there’s also a lift. For some unknown reason I thought I’d be a champ and take the stairs, instantly regretted it. But once you’re at the top of the dome there’s an incredible 360 view of the city. I was feeling brave and asked a stranger to take a photo of me up the top, this guy spoke English but he just couldn’t quite understand me when I was saying to turn my phone for a landscape photo, then again he was older… so maybe not so good with technology 😉

 

Zombie Hand!

  

Inside the basilica

  

Me at the top of the basilica

  

Staircase of doom

 

Gelato Rosa:

Just around the corner from Saint Stephen’s Basilica is a cute little gelato store where they shape your gelato into a rose 🙂 There’s usually a massive queue out the door, but it’s well worth the wait! I got chocolate and coffee gelato and dang it was good. Lets be real, I’ll probably be going back before I leave…

   
 
Gellért Hill:

If you want the best view of the city, for sure you need to go up Gellért Hill. After climbing to the top of the hill the other day in the 35 degree heat, of course I found out there’s a bus that goes up to the citadella (thanks Petra). I don’t really know the history behind the citadella at the top of the hill, but there’s some fab views.

   
   
 

So Fisherman’s Bastion is up in the Castle Hill, and honestly I have no clue what it’s supposed to represent… but it looks beautiful and the view is incredible. It’s located right next to Matthias Church and near the Buda Castle. There’s also a bus that takes you up the hill (ain’t nobody got time for walking in the heat) which is number 16.

   
   
Budapest Zoo:

As most people know I’m basically a sloth, and Budapest Zoo has a family of sloths (not including me, heh). Last year when I was here the sloths were in this enclosure where you could enter it and walk right up to them. There was usually a staff member there all day just keeping an eye on people to make sure no one touches them. But you could get super close and take photos with them. This year however, they’d been moved 😦 So you couldn’t get very close to them. It was heartbreaking.

But yeah, Budapest Zoo is pretty legit. They have an Australian section with koalas, which I think is totally weird. And basically every animal you could want to see. It’s aiiight. I would just recommend you don’t go right in the middle of the day, maybe early morning or late afternoon, as it gets super duper hot.

   
    
    
 
This weekend I’m off to Vienna, which should be a good time. Oh and while I’m here I’ve also been studying. For some stupid reason I enrolled in four papers, so I’ve found a library to go and study at. Currently I’m ahead of my work, which is a super weird feeling… Who am I?

First few days of worlds 13/07/15

Ever since I left home I never have a clue what day it is, or what the date is. But according to my phone today is Monday the 13th and I’ve been here in Moscow since the 10th. Right. 

Saturday the 11th:

I went to the venue super early on the 9.30am bus. And basically just got my accreditation sorted and passed my gear through weapons control. I don’t know what it is, but my experiences with weapons control at worlds has been pretty dang smooth. I always seem to pick a time where there’s barely a queue and all my gear passes. Which definitely doesn’t happen back in NZ. Weapons control was sweet though, they had a digital system where you enter the quantity of your gear to be tested and then they print you a docket, which is then given to the first station when you drop off your weapons and wires, and they printed off how my NZ logo on my whites should be for the next station. Well cool! After I went back to the hotel and just chilled for a bit, before I tagged along with some of the Aussies to the Red Square. Which is just incredible. The weather was pretty bad… So we seeked refuge inside St Basil’s cathedral, and I can’t really put into words how incredible it is once inside. Besides wow. 

 

One of the metro stations

  

The Red Square

  

St Basils Cathedral


Sunday the 12th:

Again I went to the venue at 9.30am just going for a cheeky move around on the strip, to get my feet going. I didn’t want to do too much footwork or anything since it was my first activity since flying. And after training today (the 13th) it was definitely a good idea. But yeah once I was back at the hotel I wandered across the street to the bakery for some lunch and then hit up the Russian space museum in the afternoon. It was insane! …I only wish there was more English. Of course I discovered there was an English audio guide once I’d finished, typical. 

 

The bakery across the street

  

Space museum

  

Space Museum

  

Space Museum

  

Cosmos Hotel

 
Monday the 13th:

And then that gets us back to today. My sleeping’s getting worse I think. Last night I was only able to sleep for four hours, not exactly the best… Regardless I went to the venue at 9.30am and just chilled, watched the Aussies sabreurs and did a bit of training. Jenny, Alicia and I managed to find a supermarket and a cafe right next to the venue which was actually pretty awesome, and the coffee was on form 🙌

 

Mmm Russian Chocolate

  

One of the training halls

  

Chocolate as my change from my coffee

  

Some of the flags in the hall

  

World champs promo

 

Universiade after the comp – 09/07/15

So the days after we fenced was pretty crazy, and seemed to pass super quick. Here’s a recap of some things we did and some of my random thoughts:

Monday 6th of July:

Monday was men’s foil, so Daniels competition day. He started fencing at 9am, so after breakfast Alice and I caught the bus there making just after his first pool bout. To me his pool looked rough. Lots of strong fencers. Unfortunately, like myself, Dan didn’t make it out of pools 😦 So we went back to the village for lunch and came back later in the evening for finals.

   

 Tuesday 7th of July:

Tuesday was pretty chill, we went to one of the basketball games during the day and the swimming finals in the evening.

   
 
Wednesday 8th of July:

Wednesday was basically Alice and Daniels last day in the village, since they were leaving at like 2am Thursday morning. So Alice and I went out to the city centre for the morning for a little shopping, which was really cool. I found some cool stores and actually brought some things (shock horror right Ollie). Then afterwards we made our way to the fencing venue for some of the women’s foil team matches. Followed by a cheeky physio session, which was actually really interesting. A couple of months ago I stress fractured my foot, and the physio was able to link that, and some of the pain I get from fencing to not using my butt properly. Which just sounds so random.

   
      
Thursday 9th of July:

Thursday was a case of norman no friends for Steph. I woke up pretty late around 10am for the first time, which was awesome. And then made my way to the venue for some teams matches. Then in the afternoon I went to the athletics and spent most of the evening there. Watching one of the kiwi team Eliza McCartney win a silver medal in pole vaulting. Which is honestly incredible to watch in person, she cleared 4.40m!

   
   
Friday 10th of July:

Friday was a long day. Waking up at 5am to make sure everything was packed and then catching the 6am bus to Seoul. Thank god I was able to sleep for most of the four hour bus trip. Since the competition finished on Thursday, pretty much most of the fencers were on the same bus going to Seoul that morning. I’m just going to straight up say it, Seoul airport sucks. There is free wifi, but it’s in an out most of the time. And trying to find food was a mission. Do people not eat at airports in Korea? The best I could find was this weird asian version of burger king. Annnnnnd the dunkin donuts in my terminal was closed for repairs. Times were tough. But the flight to Moscow wasn’t bad. I managed to get some sleep and watched a few movies.

   
    

Fencing at the universiade 05/07/15

So now that the Universiade is over for me, and I’m here in Moscow for worlds, I thought I’d post a quick update about the fencing in Korea.

Basically the morning of the comp, I was feeling pretty good. I’d seen the pool distributions the night before and my pool was looking good. But when I got to the venue after warm ups they’d redrawn the pools. Which threw me a bit. I was given basically a pool of death. With girls from Poland, Russia, Korea, Japan, China and Hungary. My pool was a horrible, but I still didn’t feel good about my fencing.

Watching the footage from some of my bouts was a bit painful. It’s pretty rough when you think you’re doing something, but then when you see it you realise you’re not. So there were obvious things like needing to sit down deeper, holding my hand more forward, and the most important: fingers first, not feet/body :/

But yeah, although results wise the universiade wasn’t exactly a success, I still think it was an awesome learning experience and am really grateful to have been able to go.