Why the Eff Isn’t Freehanding in the Olympics?

Photo: Cavan Images

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The only real sport is freehanding…

As Grandpa Dangerman used to tell me when I was growing up, “Rex, you sniveling little crybaby, there are only three real sports: philandering, bullfighting, and freehanding.” Pap-Pap was a stern man, a former Marine Corps drill sergeant who survived on Gatorade, Fox News, and Marlboro Reds, and expressed his love with his fists. But I’m getting off-topic here…RIP Pap-Pap, gone way too soon. No one deserves to die of crabs, alone in a shack in the bayou.

Anyway, as a blossoming, naturally swole, perma-buff alpha bro, I took Pap-Pap’s words to heart. I kicked my loser parents in the shins, ran out the door to the nearest rocks, and taught myself to freehand at the ripe, young age of five. No rope, no “beta,” no clampons or toeholds, no catchpads or spouters, none of that hoity-toity stuff. Just me, an unlaced pair of basketball shoes (still work fine to this day—try them sometime), and a little tree sap smeared on the thighs of my Wrangler jorts for an enhanced cling-grip when my mitts got sweaty on the cucks, which is usually an extreme, upside-down underhang (angle of 200-300 degrees!).

“But isn’t freehanding, dangerous, Rex?” you might ask. “What happens if you fall?” Well, I have to admit, falling while freehanding is not ideal—it just depends on how far away the ground is, which is totally out of your control. So sometimes you die, and sometimes you don’t. So far I have mostly-not-died in my freehanding falls thanks to my cat-like reflexes and tree-trunk quads (hey, bro, I don’t skip leg day—K, bro?). I land, I dust my shit off, I head back up like a real man. Check out this bro below—totally dialed-in freehander—for some tips on how to walk away in style from a deck-fall.

What is this light-duty bouldering, speed, and lead crap?

Which leads me to my next point: With climbing making its debut at the Tokyo Olympics, why isn’t freehanding—the only real discipline—included? As I made clear in my review of Free Solo, not only is freehanding a badass pursuit, it’s also a hella good core workout, as we learn from watching Alec Handhold “crunch” his way up the hardest side of El Crap. Freehanding demands the ultimate blend of composure, skill, and commitment, which puts it light years ahead of the milquetoast events they’ll be trotting out in Japan.

Bouldering? Looks more like running around on big plastic blobs. You know who else does that? My bratty, ADD kids, at the Rumpus Room Trampoline Playhouse off the 495 every other weekend when my battle-axe ex drops them off at my apartment and I have custody and a whole goddamned Saturday to kill.

Speed climbing? Yeah, maybe it would be cool if they weren’t hooked into those giant seatbelt things pulling them up the wall. Looks kind of like an assist, if you ask me—I know I didn’t get my PR of 300 pounds on the benchpress by having my spotter lift it that final inch onto the rack.

Lead climbing? Two words: SLOW-AF and BOR-ING. Let’s take the rope away and see what you’re really made of, tuffcakes. Sure, the body count might be high, but viewers are going to be psyched! JK LOL. Well, sorta…

What a proper Olympic freehanding event would look like

This leads me to my final point—what climbing in the Olympics should be. Let’s call this event “Freehanding Lite” since we want the Olympians to live to compete another day. Here’s how I see it breaking down:

  1. The athletes are kept in isolation where they can fuel up with Monster Energy, human growth hormone, andro, creatine, blood doping, and Slim Jims—same as any other elite competitor.
  2. Before they come out to the climbing wall, the climbers are given special Velcro body suits that cover them from head-to-toe.
  3. The wall will be a classic freehanding scramble: 1,000 feet tall, lots of underhangs, cleetons, cling-holes, rock-ramps, resting-ledges, double-lunges, and cracks to “smash” your hands into. The wall will also be made of Velcro.
  4. If a competitor falls, the judges activate a giant fan that blows the competitor back into the wall so they only fall a little bit then stop, Velcro’ed to the cliff, instead of hitting the ground.
  5. If you fail to reach the top of “Mount Dangerman” in the allotted hour, mutant Road Warrior gladiators come out of caves in the cliff and try to throw you off the mountain. Your Velcro suit will probably save you—probably.

Now before you #cancelRexDangerman and go off all cockeyed, criticizing me for not understanding the sport of climbing and how “everything in this article is wrong” and it “will give people the wrong idea,” just consider this: Would you rather watch the old Rexter’s exciting, edge-of-your-seat Velcro-mountain badass Road Warrior freehanding event, or would you rather snore through some souped-up, vertical-ballet, rock-dancing dog-and-pony show? And consider also Aunt Martha in Peoria: Which version of the Olympics is going to be easier for her to understand…and more entertaining?

We still have time to fix this before the Games start this July. So who’s with me? Tokyo 2021—we can do this, bros!

NoneWhen he’s not busy writing about the latest trends in extreme sporting, Rex Dangerman, sports and fitness editor at New York Extreme Men’s Fitness Magazine, can be found surfing the Jersey Shore, ultra-running in Central Park, or freehanding the Shawangunks.

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