The Toronto World Cup
The International Federation of Sport Climbing’s five-stop World Cup series kicked off in Toronto on May 31. It took place appropriately enough for the Canadian stop at a hockey rink, the Thornhill Arena. It was the fourth time the event has taken place in Canada. The first was in Canmore in 2011, and for the past three years, Bouldering Canada organized the event in Toronto. Nearly 140 climbers competed for a place on the podium. The event saw a record 38 Canadians, who travelled from across the country to compete.
The event brought many in the climbing community together, competitors, spectators and key sponsors. According to organizer Luigi Montilla, “Without the climbing wall from Allez Up, we wouldn’t be able to run the event. Partnering up with them and having them provide the wall made all this possible.”
For Allez Up owner Jean-Marc de la Plant, this is the first step in a dream, “I guess the ultimate dream is to have a massive outdoor event and have tons of people walk by and see this amazing sport. That’s a long-term goal.” De la Plant goes on to explain the wall is a new venture, “We are hoping to give more visibility to the sport through this wall and hopefully it will pay off in its own way. Here we are providing it as a form of sponsorship. For future events, we will rent it out and that’s why we did not brand the wall. Our logo is not on the wall, if a gym in Calgary wants to rent it and plaster it with their own logos for nationals next year for example, that is possible.”
In the final round, Austrian Anna Stohr, German Juliane Wurm and Akiyo Noguchi of Japan were clearly a step above the rest. But it was Stohr who prevailed, sticking the finish on the balance intensive problem three, where Wurm and Noguchi were unable to. The men’s side, on the other hand, produced big upsets. The biggest surprise was the 20- year-old winner Alban Levier of France. Having only competed in a few bouldering World Cups since leaving the junior competitions behind, Levier was a powerhouse in finals. In second was 18- year-old American Nathaniel Coleman who, like Levier, shocked everyone with his performance. Coleman’s only other World Cup was Vail in 2014 and he f inished in 22nd. In third place was the always strong Czech Adam Ondra, who fought hard for the last spot on the podium.
Veteran national team member Stacey Weldon from Calgary was top Canadian woman in 23rd. Weldon commented afterwards, “When I started, there would maybe, be like five girls competing, three girls in my category. At a national, that might go up to 10. This year was huge, a huge showing at nationals, just the fact that this many girls were psyched to come and compete at this level, it means the sport is growing.”
Shaun Hunter, a junior team coach and competitor from Toronto, echoes Weldon’s sentiment, “It helps the sport grow, all these athletes gives the kids something to look up to. I know the kids (I coach) really liked that I am competing here this weekend, it inspires them. There are a lot of kids volunteering here, it’s because they want to be up close to the athletes and see them climb.”
The following week, the World Cup stopped in Vail for a competition at the GoPro Mountain Games. History was made for Canada when Saskatoon’s Jason Holowach joined Vancouver’s Sean McColl in the finals. It was the first time ever that two Canadians competed in a World Cup finals. After the competition, Holowach said, “It was only a matter of time before someone joined Sean in a finals and I’m just glad it was me.”–