Reported by Clare Hennig
Rock climbers will be competing for a chance to become part of the Canadian national climbing team and potentially end up at the Olympics at the upcoming Tour De Bloc National Series event in North Vancouver.
2020 Games will be Olympic debut for sport climbing
For the first time, climbing will be included in the 2020 Olympics. Iain Stewart-Patterson, president of Sport Climbing B.C., said the inclusion of climbing in the Olympics is increasing support and awareness for the sport in Canada.
“With sport climbing getting added to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, there’s a huge drive to increase the profile and resources for our athletes,” he said.
This means more competitions, recognition and opportunities for athletes. Saturday’s competition is the first of two for climbers to join the national climbing team.
There will be 55 climbers vying to get to the final round of competition that will be held in Edmonton in early March. After paring down the competitors in a series of heats, eight men and eight women will square off in the final to determine the national team members.
When the Canadian Olympic team is chosen in the lead-up to the 2020 Games, the climbers will be selected from the national team.
The competition is a set of ten “problems” — five qualifiers and five finals — that each climber has five minutes to complete. They are judged for how far up the wall they get as well as the amount of attempts and time it takes.
There is also a recreational “scramble” competition in the morning, which accepts on-the-day registration from the general public.
Different challenges await event competitors
Kate Bell, the event coordinator at the Hive Climbing Gym where the event takes place on Dec. 3, said that it’s not just for climbers hoping to make the national team.
“It’s also for people who just want to compete at a higher level,” said Bell. “There are a couple of foreign nationals who will be competing as well for bragging rights, and there is a little bit of prize money as well.”
Andreas Lerch, one of the route setters for the competition, said he creates problems that challenge different aspects of a climber’s technique without being impossible to complete.
“We try to challenge each competitor differently so they have to be well rounded,” said Lerch. “We’ll challenge them on volume, on balance, technique, power and reading sequence.”