The competition will take place on Movement's overhanging grey wall at left. Photo courtesy of outdoorhabit.blogspot.com
The first Lead World Cup to be held on U.S. soil in more than 20 years is almost upon us! This Saturday, 67 of climbing's best athletes from 14 countries will descend on Movement Climbing + Fitness in Boulder, Colorado, in one of the last Lead World Cups to be held in 2011. (There will be four more after this weekend, two in France, one in Slovenia, and one in Spain.)
This is pretty huge news, as you've probably seen on pro blogs, Climbing's Facebook, and extensive promo by USA Climbing, and the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Why is it such a big deal, you ask? It can be broken down to two main reasons:
1) This is the first lead climbing World Cup to be hosted since the 1990 North Face World Cup in Berkeley, California. We've had the Bouldering World Cup in Vail, Colorado, for the past three years, hosted at the Teva Mountain Games, but have yet to bring the international, celebrity roped team to the U.S.
The climbing community looks to be pulling out all the stops with the event. The weekend will commence with a parade down Pearl Street (the main strip in Boulder), comprised of athletes and their representatives. A party will follow at a downtown bar. Qualifiers start the next morning, with a sponsor-filled tailgate party during the climbing. The tailgate will continue all day Sunday, with doors opening for finals at 6 p.m. USA Climbing, et al, is making an event out of this competition—they really want to make an impression that U.S. climbing is serious about international competitions, since the majority of sport climbing history is rooted in Europe.
2) Climbing has a real chance of making it into the Olympics. This year, the International Olympic Committee announced its shortlist of sports to be considered for the 2020 Olympic Games, and climbing was on that list. No matter your opinion of competitive climbing, there is a huge push for our sport/lifestyle/hobby/weekend activity to be included in the most important sporting event [quite the understatement] in the world. The decision for which sport/s will be included in the 2020 Games will be made in 2013, so USA Climbing will be doing everything in its power to boost climbing into the international sporting limelight.
So, in short, that's why this is a big deal.
Want to know who's competing? Click here. The major international names are coming (excluding Korea's Jain Kim, who apparently cannot attend due to visa issues), and U.S. climbers are repping strongly, accounting for almost 40 percent of the athletes. Yes, the American comp climbing community loves each other and sends hugs and kisses across the plastic walls to each other, but it will be exciting and interesting to watch Sasha DiGiulian (who recentlykilled it in Spain) compete against a former champion like Emily Harrington, and see how up-and-comers like Michaela Kiersch do against super-strong boulderers like Alex (female) Johnson. Of course, the men's side will hopefully be just as exciting, with Carlo Traversi (who admits he's a pebble-wrestler), Matty Hong (who recently snagged a Rifle, Colorado, 5.14d FA), Jon Cardwell, and Ben Spannuth (also a recent 5.14d bagger).
I'll be there as the event unfolds, cheering on the Americans as they battle it out on my home gym's walls. We'll have live coverage on Facebook during finals, which start at 7 p.m. (MDT), and we'll follow it up with a climbing.com photo gallery. IFSC.tv will have a live stream for those not in Colorado. Tickets are available at the front desk of Movement until the day of the event. $8 for Saturday, $10 for Sunday, or $15 for the whole weekend.