The IOC denied climber Dmitry Fakiryanou his chance at Olympic glory earlier this year when it voted to either add squash, baseball/softball or retain wrestling for the 2020 Summer Games.
But the Olympic snub —climbing was one of the seven sports on that 2020 list, which is now down to three — could not dampen the spirits in Central Saanich. Nor the equally sky-high scaling talents of the 474 competitors from 32 countries who gathered at the Boulders Gym for the 2013 world youth climbing championships.
Fakiryanou captured the men’s junior (18-19) championship in lead/difficulty climbing as the worlds concluded Monday by shunting Sebastian Halenke of Germany to second place.
The event was a triumph of not only competition but organization, as thousands ringed the Peninsula facility to watch the best young climbers in the world and see why this sport is booming, with climbing walls now becoming more and more a regular feature at rec centres, schools, playgrounds and on cruise ships. A climbing wall will be a central feature of the new University of Victoria athletics complex under construction.
“This world championship had such good organization,” said Fakiryanou, in fractured English.
“My emotions are many. I had been second before in the worlds and I am fully satisfied to finally win.”
Elan Jonas-McRae of Nanaimo was 14th in men’s junior.
Naoki Shimatini of Japan won the men’s 16-17 age category in lead climbing and Stefano Carnati of Italy the 14-15 age class.
Austrian Magdalena Rock put on a dizzying display of vertical dexterity to win the junior women’s world title in lead climbing. Countrywoman Jessica Pilz was champion in the women’s 16-17 category and Aika Tajima of Japan in the women’s 14-15 class.
“I believe this sport will be in the Olympics at some point,” said Margo Hayes, an American competitor from Golden, Colo.
“But this is like our own Olympics. I’m an adrenalin junkie and just love the challenge of this sport.”
It’s more than a sport, agreed competitor Moretz Hans of Germany.
“It’s a feeling,” he said.
Clearly, the rewards for climbers are more internal. They don’t necessarily need the external validation that the Olympics would have given the sport among the general sporting public. Not all are bummed by the Olympic snub, which came in a vote this spring with the IOC to choose between the survivors wrestling, baseball/softball and squash in a final vote next month.
“Climbing does not need to be in the Olympics,” said French team coach Daniel du Lac, himself a climbing legend. “[Wall] climbing will continue to develop as an activity as mountain climbing did centuries before.”
While the lead finals went Monday, the speed finals were held Sunday for the human spider-monkeys. The Russians dominated with Daria Kan (female 14-15), Vladisav Myznikov (male 14-15), Elena Markusheva (female 16-17) and Nikita Suyushkin (male junior 18-19) all winning. Surviving the Russian onslaught were Aleksandra Rudzinska of Poland in women’s junior 18-19 and Allessandro Santoni of Italy in men’s 16-17.
“I like the emotions of this sport and I like travelling the world competing,” said Santoni, who was up in a lightning-flash 6.9 seconds.
Canadian record-holder Alison Stewart-Patterson of Kamloops, who lives in Victoria and trains at Boulders, was 11th in the junior women’s speed event.
“It was great for my friends and family to see what I actually do,” she said.
The competitors raved about the efficiency of the organization.
“I’m very proud of our 200 volunteers,” said Kimanda Jarzebiak, head of the organizing committee. “I think we represented well the Canadian spirit.”