Olympic climbing sparking a new generation of athletes
Thanks to an Olympics showcase, climbing is having a moment.
"It's a family sport, it's entry level for anyone so don't think that climbing isn't for you, because it is." That's how staff at Boulder Climbing Community in the southeast describe the sport.
They're watching all the Sport Climbing events at the Tokyo Olympics. It's the first time they've been included in the summer games. The disciplines include lead climbing, bouldering and speed climbing.
"Obviously I'm biased but I think climbers are superhuman," said Regan Kennedy, co-owner of Boulder and the Alberta Climbing Association performance chair.
"The things that they have to be able to do with their bodies is incredible and it's actually a big challenge for us and for me as the performance chair for the Alberta Climbing Association to find personal trainers that have enough knowledge to program or help us strength train," she said. "Because the movements that they're required to do are just so complex and it's so difficult."
CLIMBING SINCE SHE WAS NINE
Paige Boklaschuk is a 19-year-old kinesiology student who's been climbing since she was nine. She's also a national member of the Canadian climbing team.
"You have to be strong," said Boklaschuk. "You have to have strong fingers and really good upper body strength and core strength but you also have to have a lot of technical skills that you can use and you have to be good under pressure and you have to be able to deal with fear and risk too."
She said she wants to spend the next few years learning what she can at international competitions to help her build up to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Jordan Jasper is the assistant manager at Boulder and is a climber himself. He's watched Boklaschuk's strength and resilience continually grow.
"Physically in terms of her tendon health and all of that, because she started so young is going to be great," said Jasper. "But Paige has a really great ability to kind of disconnect from herself, look down at her performance and see what she needs to improve on."
Patrick Juurlink is 43-years-old and just started climbing three months ago as a way to keep in shape. His eight and ten year old sons like to reach new heights with their dad on the climbing wall.
"We were watching (Olympic climbing) this morning, of course it was early so I was just watching a video of the whole preliminaries," said Juurlink. "Yeah and it was great."
Both boys play hockey and say climbing is a way for them to get physically and mentally stronger.
"When I'm older, I'm probably going to climb like my dad," said Oaklyn Juurlink. "So because I'm doing it right now, he didn't do it when he was child so I'm probably going to do it when I'm older."
Kennedy said the sport being included in the Olympic Games will likely result in more people trying it out.
"I'm not sure if it's because it's an individual sport and it's a little bit easier to practice," said Kennedy. "We kind of had these bumps with COVID and the Olympics so probably a mix of both and we'll probably see even more people coming through."
For more information on the Boulder Climbing Community, go here.
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