There has been a lot of talk in the past couple of years about having rock climbing in the 2020 Olympics. Unfortunately, last May, it got voted out of consideration for the 2020 Olympics, while wrestling made it into the only opening. However, not all is lost for the climbing community.
Ice climbing is being showcased in Sochi for the first time this winter. Although the event is merely a showcase sport, as opposed to a true Olympic competition, this brings all of climbing one step forward to becoming recognized as an Olympic sport.
Over forty countries are being represented in ice climbing at the cultural festival, and there will be demonstrations and competitions done by the climbers. No metals will be given out; the purpose of the event is rather to inform Olympic-goers of all nationalities of this awesome sport.
Ice climbing competitions are very similar to rock climbing competitions. There are two formats of competition: speed and technique. In the speed competitions, the climbers work towards the fastest time, and in the technique competitions, the competitors are attempting to complete the hardest route without falling.
Russian ice climbers are some of the best in the world, and that may be the reason they wanted to showcase ice climbing in the cultural festival. Nonetheless, ice climbers around the globe are stoked to be showing what they love to the rest of the world.
So far, the ice climbing at the festival has been a hit in Sochi, which is great news for all of climbing in general. This puts the foot in the door to allow climbing as an Olympic sport. There is talk of putting ice climbing in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, and hopefully this will lead to rock climbing’s presence in future winter and summer Olympics.
However, not all of the climbing community is onboard with putting any type of climbing in the Olympics. There are a lot of uncertainties on how it will affect the community of the sport.
I have never competed in ice climbing, but I have done a lot competitive rock climbing, and I can understand the resistance to participating in the Olympics. From my experience, I found that competitive climbing was more about competing with yourself rather than others. This promoted a very friendly and social environment in competitions, which is one of the unique draws of the climbing community. If climbing were to grow significantly more popular by being in either the summer or winter Olympics, would that affect the laid-back competitive style of climbers?
It’s hard to tell how it would affect the community. Popularization can be both a blessing and a curse. It is clear that for better or worse, rock and ice climbing are ascending to new heights in the public view.