Climbing One Step Closer To The Olympics?

Climbing One Step Closer To The Olympics?

After being granted provisional recognition status back in 2007 the International Federation of Sport Climbing has been recognized as the official governing body of the sport of climbing by the International Olympic Committee, a key step toward climbing’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.  There are several hurdles remaining and Olympic events need to be finalized years in advance, but the conventional wisdom is that climbing could appear in the Olympics as soon as the 2020 summer games.

Here in the U.S., it’s no secret that USA Climbing has been focusing on the Olympic effort for the past several years.  They’ve been working hard to expand participation in the sport of climbing, and they’ve worked closely with the IFSC in an effort to create a more unified international presence for the sport.  In an interview on The Adventure Life, USAC Executive Director Keith Ferguson calls this latest development a “huge deal” and says that:

“We have to become attractive enough that the IOC wants us in the games,” Ferguson said. Citing rugby’s change from 11 players on a side to 7 for the Olympics, he said, “Sometimes it’s about altering the rules. It might be scoring—some sports have altered their scoring to make them easier to understand…we have a huge opportunity in that we’re youth-based and they’re looking for youth games.”

Check out The Adventure Life for the full story.

The idea of climbing becoming an Olympic sport is one that seems especially polarizing for some people.  It’s hard to say what possible Olympic climbing events would look like at this point, but on the whole I don’t really see a problem with climbing being part of the Olympics.

What about you?  How do you feel about the potential of climbing becoming an Olympic sport?  Which discipline of climbing do you think will make the best Olympic event?  How old will Daniel Woods and Alex Puccio be in 2020??  Take the poll and let us know how you feel in the comments.

[poll id="95"]

[poll id="96"]

Olympic themed Scarpa shoe given to IOC officials during the IFSC’s pitch to the committee late last year

Update 2/23/10 – Planetmountain interviews IFSC President Marco Scolaris about this latest development

Posted In: Competitions, News
Tags:

Subscribe

Subscribe to the RSS feed to receive updates, and follow us on Twitter & Facebook

41 Responses to Climbing One Step Closer To The Olympics?

  1. CJS February 19, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Could the format be onsight DWS? They already build those giant pools, couldn’t be that hard to build a wall over one.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  2. Tony February 19, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    From a non climber’s perspective speed climbing would probably be the easiest to understand, but really I think all three would work just as well.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  3. SP February 19, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    I do understand why a lot of people, particularly younger, indoor-based competition climbers would want to see climbing in the Olympics.

    Personally, I think it would be terrible. Steroids would enter the world of climbing, and already polished crags and boulderfields would shine like a Mid-shipman’s morning shoes. What would climbing gain from being in the Olympics? So you can tell your friends you compete in an Olympic event? I see little to no positives, and a ton of negatives.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • jcoop February 19, 2010 at 10:39 am #

      I don’t think the inclusion of climbing in the Olympic’s would all of a sudden cause climbers to use steroids. As I understand, steroids does nothing for your tendons and only adds muscle mass making you much much more prone the injury. I guess training might be more scientific, but in Europe many athletes already have a highly scientific approach to their training.

      Also, there’s absolutely no proof showing a correlation between between a sport being in the Olympics and an increase in participants. If anything, I could see gyms getting an influx of customers shortly after the Olympics and then peeter off. I don’t think that just because Joe Shmo saw Daniel Woods do a 1 arm pull up on a sport route in the Olympics he’s going to all of a sudden want to start climbing outside. Your average person is TERRIFIED of the idea of climbing outside. More likely, he’ll go to the local gym a couple times and never go again. OR if he decides it’s something he loves then he can continue climbing and become a contributing member of the climbing community. It’s not fair to discriminate against a climber because they were inspired to start climbing because of the Olympics. If they were inspired enough to take the initiative and start climbing and decide it’s something they like, then so be it. Inspiration is inspiration, who are we to judge?

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • SP February 19, 2010 at 11:47 am #

        I totally agree that inspiration is an individual thing. But look at sports like gymnastics and snowboarding – they see a huge influx of interest after the Olympics. Sure, it does die down afterwards, and maybe this would mean that an increase of climbers outdoors would be negligible as well, I guess we won’t know until afterwards.

        One major problem I have is that climbing is very similar to gymnastics with strength:weight ratios being very critical. Do you really want the 2020 Olympics to feature 12-16 year old preteens competing in your sport, who have diet and nutritional problems, all for the sake of competition? You can say I’m exaggerating here, but those are facts that are common in many sports where strength to weight ratio is a major concern.

        And do we really want to turn climbing into a competition-only sport, where “climbing for fun” is for the weak losers?

        In honesty, other than someone being able to say (spray), that their hobby is an Olympic sport, how does the climbing community benefit? It’s not nearly as cool as we all think it is when your talking to girls, unless she is a climber and you can pull down uber-hard with your sponsors listed on your shirt.

        Maybe I am missing something here, but I just don’t see how this benefits the sport.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        • Brian February 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

          I think the climbing community would benefit from an increase in legitimacy in the eyes of landowners and government entities.

          This would have huge implications when working on climbing access issues, as well as a possible increase in membership (and thus budget) for groups like the Access Fund.

          GD Star Rating
          loading...
          • SP February 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

            Perhaps, but from what I have seen, and we experience here in the NE, is that access issues are a result of too many climbers, rarely, if ever, too few.

            Sorry for being a little combatative, but I don’t see why the hurry to get climbing into the Olympics, given the huge amount of negatives it can raise, with very little positives. It’s a fringe sport that does have life-threatening implications if something goes wrong. I don’t see skydiving in the Olympics, and to any non-climber, skydiving is considerably more enjoyable to watch. Perhaps jcoop was right after all – there would be no increase in climbing participation, due to the lack of interest it would draw from television audiences. Crap, it may make the sport look boring and put us in the synchronized swimming position.

            Narc – sorry for a lot of traffic on your website, my laptop is having loading issues so I’m tweaking settings to get your page to load right.

            GD Star Rating
            loading...
          • Jcoop February 19, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

            SP, I don’t find your tone to be combative at all. Obviously, this is a controversial issue and a spirited discussion is healthy.

            I agree with Brian that an increase in legitimacy would actually help access issues. If an Olympic athlete with a gold medal gets behind an access issue, I’m sure it could really help. Not to mention, sponsors would have more at stake in the sport, perhaps leading towards corporate help in access issues? One can dream right…

            I’m surprised nobody’s brought up the money issue. More publicity is going to result in more sponsors and bigger sponsors. The Olympics are a business for the organization, the sponsors, and the athletes. Now some might think climbing is “whoring” itself by joining the Olympics, but I disagree. I don’t think that just because an athlete decides to devote their lives to climbing they should be forced to be dirtbags their whole lives. If that’s the way some people choose to do it, then more power to them and that is their prerogative. I don’t mind seeing elite athletes get a little more kickback or lesser known athletes getting increased sponsorship deals.

            Climbing media (websites, movies, etc)could benefit too from increased traffic. I’m thinking in particular of websites like ClimbingNarc or PimpinandCrimpin (if they would ever update their website!) and media websites like Louderthan11 or MvM. The people who run these websites spend a lot of time and resources to do so, so I’m all for them getting what they deserve.

            GD Star Rating
            loading...
    • Rj July 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Maybe because people all over the world compete in climbing? Have you ever thought about any of the other sports in the Olympics that gain no positives like ping pong or handball or waterpolo? Probably not cause all you see is selfishness. You don’t want it to become an Olympic sport because you don’t want it to become popular, but that’s what climbing needs, is some kind of popularity. Me personally, I’d love to be an Olympian for the USA in climbing.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  4. Ryan February 19, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    I love the Olympics. I think being an Olympian and representing your country on an international stage in your respective sport is one of the great honors in life, and since I’m an avid climber I would love for climbing to become an Olympic event. I think it would be best to have two disciplines, sport climbing and bouldering. It’s strange to think it will be at least ten years before we see climbing in the Olympics. Due to the growing popularity of the sport, especially at the youth level, I think it’s only a matter of time before climbing does become an Olympic event, maybe not necessarily 2020 but someday I think it will. Just think if climbing does become an Olympic event in 2020 the individuals who would be competing are probably between the ages of 6-12 and are not highly recognized climbers….yet! In 2020, Adam Ondra will be at least 26, Sharma 38…haha, and Daniel Woods 30.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Rocky_-14 June 28, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      I’m a 14 year old. I’m the 3rd ranked sport climber and boulderer in Australia. I found out about Olympic Climbing when I was 9 and have been dreaming ever since. I will be apx. 22 in 2020. And I’d just like to point out that, whilst it’s not widely recognised,climbing (lead, boulder and speed) are all world events :D I’m heading off to Singapore next year for the world youth championships and I don’t think Olympic climbing would ruin the sport at all

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Rocky_-14 June 28, 2011 at 11:54 am #

        Also, could I recommend a climbing triathlon. As in a climbing, bouldering and speed comp where all points are put together, as well as single events. This is the same format as gymnastics :)

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
      • Rockclimber#1 February 8, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

        I totally agree with you. I am a climber also and I wish to Compete in the Olympics as well. It really frustrates me when people say that climbing isnt a sport, becasue its hard….REALY HARD! Well…….i guess ill see you in 2020!

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
  5. Narc February 19, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    As much as I don’t really think speed climbing reflects what the sport of climbing is about, I think that it’s probably the best form of climbing as an Olympic event. The general public has an easier time understanding people racing against the clock.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Brian February 19, 2010 at 10:54 am #

      I think the general public could also understand difficulty climbing as long as it comes down to a single score (similar to how snowboarding is being handled).

      However, time based events still seem to get more coverage.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Narc February 19, 2010 at 10:57 am #

        The only problem with lead climbing is the pacing. It’s exciting near the time a climber falls (or sends), but waiting for each climber to get to the hard part of the climb can seem tedious.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        • jcoop February 19, 2010 at 11:23 am #

          I think bouldering would be the best format for the Olympucs if the scoring was done like a redpoint competition. I.E/ a V10 problem is worth 100 for a flash, 90 second go, 80 third. V11 110 for a flash, 100 second go, 90 third, etc. Easy enough for everyone to follow and the pace would be fast enough to keep people entertained. Bouldering is probably the most exciting for people to watch to because the routes can be flashy and dynamic. It also probably illustrates athletic prowess the most out of the three disciplines too due to the “hardest move possible” aspect of bouldering.

          Isn’t this a moot point though? I was under the impression that since the IFSC was recognized by the IOC that the only chance for climbing in the olympics would be sport climbing? Or does the IFSC also govern bouldering and speed climbing?

          GD Star Rating
          loading...
          • Narc February 19, 2010 at 11:26 am #

            The IFSC governs all 3 disciplines of competitive climbing

            GD Star Rating
            loading...
    • DB February 20, 2010 at 3:16 am #

      Realistically, I don’t think it matters.
      Call it olympic and people will be psyched. If it looks extreme people will be psyched.
      It would obviously be better if they had good commentators explaining why things are hard and giving athlete profiles and stuff, but think about current olympic sports:
      Curling, luge, trampoline, whatever. I have no idea what makes those hard, though I’m sure they are, but I still watch. Watching climbing, even if your not sure what makes it so difficult can’t be any worse than watching people skate the same circle 35 times in a row…

      My only fear in this whole issue is that climbing organizations are spending too much effort trying to publicize climbing and make it more spectator friendly, and almost no time thinking about the format or standardizing regulations that would raise it from the level of an amateur event to something legitimate that would accurately test and display climbing ability.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  6. joel February 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    this is something i’ve given a lot of thought to and talked about with a lot of fellow climbers. for the most part, i’ve encountered resistance to the idea of climbing in the olympics, and usually the reason given is the spike in popularity. of course i understand that access is sensitive as it is, and having hoards of clueless urbanite newbies show up at presently low-key crags could be devastating, but truly, isn’t it better to have these people get outdoors, experience the environment, and interact with nature in the way that climbers everywhere already do? isn’t it our responsibility and opportunity as climbers and the climbing community to ensure that the new generation of climbers come to understand the importance of respecting the areas we’re privileged to climb in?

    i have a ton of gripes about the olympics in general, but even so, i would like to see climbing as part of the competition. a good comp, with professional camera angles, excellent commentary, and the world’s best all present? yes please. in some ways too, i think it’s an opportunity for climbing to be a little subversive on the main stage; a chance for climbers to say thanks, this was fun, but the main goal is always to pursue the sport for individual enjoyment and the interaction with inspiring natural spaces. plus, how much fun would it be to hear the commentator present x climber as “a self-proclaimed dirtbag, who lives out of his honda civic, showers biweekly, and eats peanut butter on bread for 75% of his meals”?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  7. Narc February 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    Joel’s mention of the dirtbag lifestyle raises another point that is slightly off topic. Namely, how will climber behavior need to change if climbing becomes more mainstream and commercial? Right now you have very well known sponsored climbers engaging in behavior (offensive language, immature antics, etc.) that it seems would be frowned upon were climbing a more well known sport.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Jcoop February 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

      I don’t think the lifestyle would be an issue at all. I think the Olympic sport with the closest culture to climbing is snowboarding. That lifestyle seems to be embraced by audiences and sponsors alike. If you watched the snowboard finals, Shaun White and his coach were cursing up a storm at the top of the half pipe after he won gold and I heard no backlash for it. In fact, I think audiences liked it because it showed the rawness of the sport.

      I feel like I’m kind of blowing up this thread with too many posts. Sorry Narc! I’m home all day with nothing to do!

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • Narc February 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

        Never a problem. I appreciate anyone that takes the time to help further the discussion.

        I don’t mean to sound prudish about the behavior issue either but it’s just another aspect to think about.

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        • joel February 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

          i agree with jcoop about the parallel with snowboarding. the olympics and broadcasters want wide audiences, and personalities draw in viewership. i’ve yet to witness unairable behaviour at any comp. in my experience, the traveling adventurer lifestyle of climbers is intriguing to people. shouldn’t be too hard a sell.

          GD Star Rating
          loading...
          • Narc February 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

            I wasn’t referring to comps specifically as everyone seems to be on their best behavior when it comes to comps. I was thinking more of the videos floating around on youtube and vimeo but I suppose the majority of people never see most of these videos.

            GD Star Rating
            loading...
          • Jcoop February 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

            It’s a pretty well known secret that a lot of climbers smoke lots and lots of herb. I could see there being an issue if there was a DQ from a major competition for testing positive for THC(*cough*Sharma*cough*).

            Climbers would just have to be more careful about what they do to avoid a Michael Phelps incident. If they choose to compete in the Olympics and voluntarily put themselves in the spotlight and reap the rewards of being there, then they have to be willing to be more careful about their private lives. I’m sure there are tons of Olympic athletes who do drugs, party hard, etc and noone knows or cares.

            Or they could say F the sponsors and be a voice for pot legalization! Up to them.

            GD Star Rating
            loading...
  8. Paul February 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Personally, I view the olympics as something that people love for two weeks the forget about for 4 years. I think if climbing went more mainstream, spraying and such would become more common and the sport would get away from its grassroots beginning. Anybody know if Bachar(RIP) had an opinion? He always seemed to know what was best for climbing.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  9. opTIMistic February 22, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    i think there should be a top roping discipline. and then we could start the Professional Top Ropers Club of North America (PTRCNA) to pick our favorite top ropers. just… puttin it out there.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  10. Don February 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Getting climbing into the Olympics could generate good exposure for the sport. Many people I talk to about climbing have preconceptions about how dangerously foolish climbing is. The sport could benefit from the expsure in an IOC sanctioned arena. Look at what FOX Sports did for NASCAR. With the viewership up those NASCAR sponsorships are now worth something. Getting non-climbers interested and supporting climbing would be awesome.
    I enjoy watching it almost as much as I enjoy doing it.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  11. newton February 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    i own a gym, and i’m a climber. the thought of once every four years, potentially having a bunch of psyched & inspired people wanting to come check out an olympic sport sounds like a dream come true for me.

    if nothing else, maybe i’d have people come in wanting to copy what they’ve seen in the olympics rather than what they’ve seen on mission impossible/vertical limit/cliffhanger.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Mark February 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

      … grumble… people always wanting to know where on a route the obligatory kneebar no-hands rest is… grumble… mission impossible…

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  12. g March 3, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    i do not see climbing corporates getting more money into access fund(s) because of a post-olympic increase in income.

    if anything i’d rather see that money going back into the competition circuit, in some way.
    But i wouldn’t be a fan of too much money into outdoor climbing as well…from my point of view the “bummyness” of the true hardcore globetrotters (even very sponsored ones, who can sometimes be short of money…) defines the general atmosphere, even for those like many of us who have an otherwise very regular job and life, and this is something enjoyable and funny in itself.

    in my opinion, the only possible benefit of olympic climbing would be shifting the general focus towards competitions and indoors, to a point that outdoor practicants actually decrease a little bit and access/impact/rock polish problems soften up.

    I say this because i believe that indoor climbing can handle big numbers much better than outdoors, not only from a “conservation” point of view but also looking at the fun factor.
    A packed full bouldering gym is 100% social interaction, cheering, showing off your biceps and looking at that blonde’s fine ass or the brunette’s tits.
    A packed full bouldering sector is parking your car where you know you shouldn’t, finding your project’s holds greasy even in good weather conditions, seeing a lot of people not having any respect for the surroundings and/or the rock, etc…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  13. Jeff March 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    I think speed climbing would be the most likely candidate to be included in the Olympics. It is the easiest to understand by the general public. I think only climbers would truly understand how hard certain climbs are. But it could have the “curling” effect and everyone loves it because it is so random. Either way I think it deserves to be an Olympic sport.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  14. Pierre April 7, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    Hum, there’s no format in rugby where there are 11 players on a team, it’s 7,13 or 15, and sevens always existed, it’s like the bouldering of rugby, short and intense.
    There are so many sports at the summer olympics that I doubt it could have any really massive negative effect. And it’s definitely a well-deserved form of recognition for the sport.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  15. Rox June 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Sport climbing has decided to be included as sport medal for SEA Games 2011 in Indonesia.

    http://www.seacf.org/news.php

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  16. redlimpet August 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    hey guys! i am really enthusiastic for climbing to be in the olympics.I think it is the best sport ever and really needs more publicity for example when i went on holiday to ireland i had to go three weeks without climbing since there is only one indoor climbing centre in the whole country! i am 11 years old and i will be 19 in 2020 – so in with a chance of a medal -and also i think it would be great to be able to watch competitive climbing on tv. so i am definitely pro olympic climbing!i think bouldering is the best option. just for the record, are we talking real rock or holds on a wall?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  17. Climbnerd September 7, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Hey its not such a bad idea that everyone is making out personally i think its a great idea and someone will finally go ‘cool’ or ‘epic’ when u say u climb. also here is the truth i have just gone into year 8 so supposedly i could be an Olympian if i wanted to make climbing more than just fun and that’s just cool (not saying i will even try to be or be a Olympian but its just a figure of speech !) Anyway why are people moaning its not even official. plus it will increase funds and stuff and equipment to expensive for weirdos to just get for a day on the rocks. And finally ,ever bouldering or sport cuz speed is really restricted! anyway it would be epic for all new generations so please stop dissing and admit it would be cool!

    p.s go redlimpet !!?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  18. ChuckTheNorris February 20, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    You have to think of it through the climbers point of view. As a climber I would love my past time and something I have done for years and just for fun, allowing me a chance to be in the Olympics. Rock Climbing has been something my friends and I have done for years and we have gotten good at it but it has really been just bragging rights within us or our community. To be able to compete on the global scale would not only be an honor but it would also be a great way to show othe people the true joy and entertainment in climbing and maybe they will go out and try it as well.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  19. greg February 20, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    sure, I am a climber first these days but am an ex-national level wrestler in my high school days. I guess one could argue that people have been climbing on rocks for just as long as people have been wrestling one another, I just think its a pretty sad scenario for a sport like climbing to replace a sport like wrestling. How many countries do you think would send athletes to compete in Sport Climbing vs. Wrestling? I think removing wrestling as a core sport undermines much of the tradition related to the Olympics and degrades the event’s credibility somewhat. Sure climbing I feel deserves to be up there, but to gain a spot solely based on current surging popularity and potential mainstream appeal is somewhat questionable. Its the Olympics, not the XGames! I think they need to leave room at allow new events and still keep the traditional events that are the backbone of the Olympics dating back to ancient times.

    That said, if climbing is included I will watch it eagerly and I probably won’t miss the wrestling coverage haha… just is a bit sad to see a sport like that go away

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Klettern bei Olympia 2020? | kletterblog.info - February 19, 2010

    [...] Inzwischen hat sich auch ClimbingNarc.com zu dem Thema [...]

  2. Rock Climbing 2020 olympics – Rock Climbing | Climbing Guru » Blog Archive - June 6, 2012

    [...] for 2020 Olympics Games …Sport climbing shortlisted for the 2020 Olympic Games …Climbing One Step Closer To The Olympics? | Climbing NarcissistClimbing Shortlisted For 2020 Olympic Games | Climbing NarcissistClimbing in the 2020 Olympics: [...]

Leave a Reply