Climbers Learn From World’s Best at The Boulders

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

January 5, 2013, Central Saanich, BC (ISN) – It was a flurry of activity at The Boulders Climbing Gym in Central Saanich this past weekend, as close to 50 climbers, coaches, volunteers and support staff took part in the Boulders second annual Competition Climbing Clinic.

The Clinic was an opportunity for climbers, coaches and volunteers to learn from the world’s best in the sport as the roster of guest coaches at the event was unprecedented and included 2012 overall men’s world champion Sean McColl from Canada, 2013 European Champion speed climber Libor Hroza from the Czech Republic, Slovenian National team Head Coach Roman Kranjik and British youth team coach and Climbers Against Cancer founder John Ellison to name just a few.

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2012 Overall Men’s World Champion Sean McColl of Canada (centre) provides advice to his charges during The Boulders Climbing Clinic on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Twenty-one lead climbers, six speed climbers, six coaches and six volunteers – who learned how to judge climbing events and how to safely belay climbers – came from across North America to participate in the event including coaches and climbers from as far away as Texas and Ontario.

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Climber Ali Funk (left) receives advice from Slovenian coach Simon Margon during a practice session at the Boulders Climbing Clinic on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The weekend was a full one for all those involved. For coaches participating in the clinic, they began on Friday with a general coaches meeting with the event organizers and other coaches, and then were assigned to a guest coach to review the schedule. They then shadowed their guest coach for the weekend, and assisted in coaching the climbing participants on Saturday, including de-briefs at the end of the day.

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Nanaimo’s Elan Jonas McRae (left) works on his moves under the guidance of Slovenian National Team coach Roman Kranjik at the Boulders Climbing Clinic Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

For volunteers, the clinic was an opportunity to participate and understand more about the world of competition climbing. Participants were able to choose between taking an introduction to judging both difficulty and speed (and become qualified to judge in local competitions), or they could learn how to be a competition belayer, in either the speed or lead discipline.

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Coquitlam’s Hayden Jones begins his ascent up the wall during the mock difficulty competition on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Finally for climbers, the clinic was an opportunity for them to participate in a mock competition under the guidance of a word-class coach. Climbers were assigned to a guest coach (a ratio of one to five for difficulty, and one to eight for speed) and with their coach, made a plan for the mock competition which took place Saturday. This included coaching during practice and warm-up sessions, video analysis, a de-brief following the competition and notes to take home.

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Boulders climbers Elan Jonas-McRae (left) and Elena Moss (right) participate in the mock difficulty climbing competition on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The clinic was the second such clinic hosted by the Boulders and the event continues to grow and evolve. “We were excited to see the registrants we had this year, especially those participants that came from places like Seattle, Texas and Ontario,” said Boulders Chair and event organizer Kimanda Jarzebiak. “Our event is a little bigger this year compared to last, but this year we added the speed discipline. That, plus the world class roster of guest coaches we were able to assemble for the event, drew fantastic interest from the climbing community and made this a very successful event.”

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Vancouver’s Matthew Wellington was one of 21 difficulty climbers participating in the Boulders Climbing Clinic this past weekend (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

For those climbers from British Columbia attending, the clinic was a great way to tune up after the holidays for the remainder of the Sport Climbing Association of British Columbia competition season which continues this month on the January 25-26 weekend with the final Bouldering competition of the season, as well as the first lead/difficulty competition, both of which take place at The Edge Climbing Centre in North Vancouver.

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Czech and European champion speed climber Libor Hroza shows off his form during the Boulders Climbing Clinic on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Bouldering season will then wrap up on February 8th with Provincials at The Project Climbing Centre in Abbotsford, while the lead/difficulty and speed competitions will continue in February and March, leading up to Provincials in those disciplines at The Boulders on the April 5th weekend.

About The Boulders Climbing Gym

The Boulders Climbing Gym is a not-for-profit society, with the mandate of making climbing accessible for everyone, regardless of ability or ability to pay. With over 13,000 square feet (1,208 square metres) of climbing space, The Boulders Climbing Gym is a community facility and a unique social enterprise, providing adaptive recreation and rehabilitation programs, youth recreational and competitive programs, as well as facilitating a climbing academy at Stelly’s Secondary School. All instructors are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. See www.climbtheboulders.com for more details.

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