Sport climbing debuts at the Olympics providing excitement for local rock climbers

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 10:54:32-04

BOISE, Idaho — The 2020 Olympics in Japan are underway and will officially begin with the opening ceremonies on Friday night.

For the first time, sport climbing will feature the world's best climbers going for gold in a competition that features three different disciplines.

"We are super excited. We are thinking we might bust out the projector at Vertical View and have a little viewing party because it is just a huge moment for the sport," said Kevin Bradford of Vertical View Climbing Gym. "The fact that it got delayed a year because it was supposed to happen last year, we have been waiting with bated breath for this to happen so we couldn’t be more excited."

Competitive rock climbing began in the early 90s, but Bradford told us it has always been more popular in Europe. Here in the Treasure Valley, the sport's popularity has grown in the past year and a half two indoor climbing gyms opened, including Vertical View in Meridian.

"I will definitely watch the Olympics. I’m really excited," said Alyssa Vonser, who is on Vertical View's competitive climbing team. "It will just bring climbing to a whole new level because the more people that do it, they will get better and push the sport to new limits."

The International Federation of Climbing was allowed to hand out one set of medals for the men and the women so the competition will feature three different disciplines -- lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering -- with the highest scores earning medals.

Vertical View has the only speed climbing course in the Northwest and that will help the Treasure Valley hold competitions in the future. Vonser started climbing three years ago and continues to improve.

"It takes a lot of practice. It is definitely a lot harder than it looks, but the more times you do it, the more you get it used to it and the times go down eventually," said Vonser. "This facility is unlike anything I've ever seen. Before this, I'd never done any rope climbing and now those are some of my favorites so it is really cool and the gym is just incredible."

Bradford told us Japan will be the team to beat, but the Americans also have several talented climbers as the sport climbing competition starts on Tuesday, August 3.

For a complete list of the schedule for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, click here.