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Q&A: Sasha Digiulian

Q&A with Sasha Digiulian, one of the strongest climbers in the country.

For the past four years, you’ve been a professional climber and traditional high school student. Is it tough to live a double life?
SD: Climbing pretty much governs my life. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. The more I climb, the more my passion grows. It’s weird. As you increase your climbing level, you get attached to breaking new levels. The better you get, the better you want to get. It’s addictive.

How do you train during the school year? SD: During a typical school day, I train for two to three hours a day, five days a week. Mostly, that’s in the climbing gym, but I also run six to eight miles four to five days a week. With running, I get the same feeling as doing a long climbing route. I’m there, in my moment, detached from the world. Plus, running helps train the ability to control your breathing on a route.

So you’re done with high school. Off to college? SD: I’m going to Columbia University in New York City, but I’m deferring my application until 2012 so I can spend this next year climbing and traveling. I’m pretty undecided in what I want to study. It changes regularly. Maybe marketing, maybe journalism. I don’t know. Right now, I’m working on my senior project, which is designing a personal website. My sponsors are psyched about that, but I find it hard to sit at a computer and work on it. I’d rather be climbing.

You’re probably best known as a competition climber, but within the last year, you’ve been killing it outside too. Is it tough to balance competitions with climbing outside? SD: It can be difficult because of scheduling. You need a few days in the gym before you can do a competition, but I enjoy climbing outside more. It’s important to do both, though, and competitions are great. I like the stress, I like seeing my friends. I like the atmosphere.

Any plans for knocking out a 5.14d? [Only one other female has climbed a route of this grade] SD: I’m heading to Europe for the summer and fall, competing in the World Cup events and the World Championship in Arco. I’m going to spend the month climbing outside but I don’t have any specific 5.14s in Europe I want to do. After the World Cup event in Boulder, Colorado, I’m coming back to the Red River Gorge. There’s a 5.14d there I’d like to climb, Pure Imagination. The Red is definitely one of my favorite places to climb. That and Rodellier in Spain. There are so many possibilities for new development in the Red, but there are already so many hard routes. Plus, there’s Miguel’s Pizza.

Going any place else this year you’re excited about?
SD: I’m going on the Petzl Rock Trip to Southern China. I’ve never been to Asia before. I hope to get into Beijing and check out the city at least once.

Watch a recent video of Sasha Digiulian pull hard at the Dominion Riverrock competition in Richmond this past May.

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