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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

February 20, 2015, Central Saanich, BC (ISN) – It is the opportunity of a lifetime this weekend for over 100 young sport climbers, as they attend the first ever International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Climbing Camp being held at The Boulders Climbing Gym in Central Saanich.

2014 World Champion in Lead and Bouldering Adam Ondra of the Czech Republic (CAC shirt, centre) addresses his small workshop group on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On hand to instruct the young athletes at the camp are many of the top competition climbers from around the world including the 2014 Men’s Overall World Champion Sean McColl from Canada, the 2014 Women’s Overall World Champion Charlotte Durif from France, the 2014 World Champion in both Lead climbing and Bouldering, Adam Ondra from the Czech Republic and two time world record holder in speed Libor Hroza of the Czech Republic.

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2014 Men’s Overall World Champion Sean McColl from Canada, welcomes the over 100 participants to the first ever IFSC World Climbing Camp (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Since many of these names may not be familiar to the casual sports fan in Canada, to put it in a bit of perspective, it would be like sending your child to a hockey camp where they get one-on-one instruction from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Alex Oveckin, Zdeno Chara, and perhaps Henrik Lundqvist, in other words, from the absolute top competitiors in the sport from across the world.

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2014 World Champion Silver Medalist in Speed Climbing Klaudia Buczek from Poland (back centre) speaks to participants during Friday’s workshop sessions (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“We are incredibly blessed to have such a wealth of talent here this weekend,” said Boulders Chair Kimanda Jarzebiak. “The participants are excited to be here and are eager to learn what it takes to excel on the world stage in the sport.”

Other world renowned instructors at the event include:

  • Domen Skofic (SLO) – 2011 World Youth Champion, 2012 European Youth Champion, three podium finishes at 2014 IFSC Climbing Worldcup events, plus two 4th place finishes.
  • Sebastian Halenke (GER) – 2010 German Youth Champion, 2009, 2010, 2012 Junior World Champion, 2011 and 2013 German Men’s Champion, 2014 European Youth Cup Champion.
  • Mina Markovic (SLO) – 2011 IFSC Lead World Cup Champion, 2011 and 2012 IFSC Overall Women’s Champion.
  • Hélène Janicot (FRA) – 2010 IFSC World Youth Champion, 2010 World Cup Chamonix Silver Medalist, 2012 World Cup Briacon Champion, 2013 European Championships Bronze Medalist, 2014 French National Champion.
  • Maja Vidmar (SLO) – 2007 Lead World Cup Champion, 2005 and 2008 Lead World Cup Silver Medalist, 2009 and 2011 Lead
  • Klaudia Buczek (POL)(Speed) – 2009 Junior European Cup Silver Medalist, 2010 World Youth Champion, 2012 Daone World Cup Silver Medalist, 2014 World Championship Silver Medalist.
  • Aleksandra Rudzinska (POL)(Speed) – 2009, 2010, 2013 World Youth Champion, 2011 European Youth Cup Champion, 2014 World Championships Bronze Medalist.

While most of the workshop participants are predoinantly from British Columbia, including a number of climbers who call The Boulders Climbing Gym home, there are a number from Ontario and Quebec, as well as a strong contingent from the United States.

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Slovenian climber Domen Skofic (left) speaks with participants prior to the workshop on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

One such participant is US climber Kai Lightner who travelled all the way from North Carolina to attend. Lightner, one of approximately 15 US climbers at the workshop and who climbed at The Boulders at the 2013 World Youth Championships, was quick to sign up when he heard this workshop was happening, “The main reason I came here is simply for the opportunity to learn from the World’s best climbers. They have the so much experience on the world stage and being able to learn how they train and prepare themselves is an important aspect of why I am here.”

In one of the early workshops, Lightner made sure to get into a small group with Slovenian climber Domen Skofic. “Domen is a great role model for me, as he was just aging out of youth as I was coming into it, so he is young enough that we can all relate well to him, plus he already has an incredible amount of World Cup experience and has a ton of advice to offer.”

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Overall World Champion Sean McColl of Canada holds court with workshop participants on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The workshop participants will be put through a range of activities this weekend. On Friday, small groups broke out to have intimate discussions and introductions with the various instructors and they then attended various workshops on such topics as mental and physical preparation, route setting, motivation, nutrition and technique.

On Saturday and Sunday, the groups will attend more workshops and then go through mock competitions in both lead and speed climbing. These sessions are open to the public and run from 1:30 to 4:30 on Saturday (for speed) and 9:00 am to 2:30 pm on Sunday. Admission is by donation.

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.