Tina J Hafsaas talks about eating disorder

Sunday, 28 February

Tina Johnsen Hafsaas, three times a winner in the Euro Youth Cup and #4 in the WC in Chamonix in 2017, has spoken out in Norwegian climbing media, together with Magnus Midtbö, about their eating disorder. We asked Tina if she could share some thoughts on 8a. (c) Arc’teryx and Mattis G. Husby

”Growing up I felt like all the climbers I knew and looked up to were having a difficult relationship with food. I thought it was, as big part of the game, as training endurance. I watched my first world cup at 14, at the same time as I was competing as an up and coming international youth competitor. I was fueled with impressions, and the better I got in youth the better (and thinner) the people I looked up to. I guess as a teenager you shouldn’t really compare your body to adults who have trained for a decade, but when your idols looked like what they did to me it definitely made an impact on what I believed our sport was about. I think not talking about weight, training, food and consequences makes it worse, because young athletes draw conclusions of their own. Adult climbers using weight to peak performance is normal, as it is in every elite sport, but we should talk more about context. Being young you want to be the best now right away, but by having a more long-term mindset you realize that pushing your body too far with malnutrition as a teen you actually lower your potential long-term.”

What can be done to reduce the problem?
I believe for competition climbing the route setters have the power. It has been a major change in style in the last years forcing athletes to be more powerful. The massive change in climbing holds has obviously contributed to the change of style as well. The federations can always do more and better. Thanks to a lot of brave people it’s getting talked about more and we should keep it going, answer questions openly and honestly and hopefully contribute to making the sport easier to grow up in.

For rock, it’s definitely different because there are no federations or rules to follow. You can always find a route that fits your style and lose as much weight as you want just to climb it. But losing weight for most people is not just about that one climb. It’s easy to get trapped in a world of misery and sadness and no climb is worth that. I hope that climbers sharing their stories make other climbers more aware of the consequences of pushing it too far and how easy it is to lose control.

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