A citizen of Celje has been climbing since the age of six and competing in the world cup for ten years, but his first sport was hockey. As a child, he was full of energy. As he recalls, he could not stand still for long. Due to his physical predisposition, he chose climbing and has stayed true to this sport up to the present day. “I was immediately drawn to climbing and I was quickly becoming better and better,” Kruder recalls. “I developed a passion for climbing when I first came into contact with rock.” Climbing became his life and also a family sport. He was followed by his younger sisters Neža and Julija.

“Climbing is a beautiful sport because it exercises the whole body and you never run out of challenges. Every move you make on the rock wall is unique,” he says to describe the life of a climber. He managed to realise a number of challenges, even El Pontas in Mallorca – he made the ascent of this famous wall in his 39th attempt as the second person in the world.

The European and world youth champion in speed climbing has high ambitions also at this year’s Triglav The Rock Ljubljana, taking place on 19 May in the centre of Ljubljana. “I always wanted to compete in a major competition on home ground. I am delighted that we can present this sport to Slovenes and make this an enjoyable event for visitors.” Last year he finished 2nd, and this year he wants to take one step higher. “I experience special emotions when competing. Even routesetters make an extra effort, so I am happy to exchange rock climbing for artificial walls.” What is his greatest strength? “I can remain calm and be aggressive at the same time. I can make a certain move that appears impossible.” We saw a number of these moves in last year’s competition. And what kind of advice does an athlete who likes to relax on a motorcycle give to climbers trying to qualify for the main event? “Climbing is all about the pleasure of movement. If you don’t put some heart into it, you won’t be successful in competitions.”

He will certainly remember 2017. Not only because of climbing in the centre of Slovenian capital, but also because he claimed his first podium in the world cup – he finished 3rd in Nanjing in China at the end of April 2017 in the boulder discipline. He also climbed the 9a route and 8c boulder. Nearly one year later he won the opening competition of the world cup in bouldering. An ambitious and determined climber is not short of challenges. “I would like to climb two new Chris Sharma routes in Mallorca.” He will definitely return to the south of Switzerland to climb his favourite type of rock and Laško to conquer the area called Golobove pečine.

He draws motivation for new feats from everyday situations, for example a climber from Spain, who allegedly climbs every day of the year. “This is my motivation! Otherwise, I follow my heart. My role model is my inner self.” Jernej Kruder is certainly a type of climber who will inspire new generations of climbers.