Chris Sharma Wins Innovative Deep Water Soloing Comp In Spain

Chris Sharma Wins Innovative Deep Water Soloing Comp In Spain

Chris Sharma won a comp over the weekend that was a bit different from the standard comp one sees here in the U.S.  Held in Bilbao, Spain, the Psicobloc Masters saw competitors facing off on a 50 ft. wall over a river with nothing but the water to catch their falls.  Plenty of sports action ensued which you can see in a couple of videos at the end of this post.

Perhaps most interesting about this comp is the excitement its unique format seems to have generated for spectators and competitors alike.  Speaking with the Prana blog Sharma indicates how pumped he was about the comp:

To do a deep water soloing competition was a no brainer from the start.  The high adrenaline and big falls make it a super spectacular spectator sport, more so than any other climbing competition format.

snip

Looking back on the years when climbing was in the X Games but just couldn’t translate to the mainstream audience because if its slow subtle nature, this new form of competition will surely blow the minds of any non climber and I believe will be a key element in climbing becoming a more mainstream sport.

With competitive climbing becoming bigger and a potential appearance in the Olympics looming, I’m wondering what you think about this DWS format.  Keeping in mind that this a brand new format, do you think that a DWS format is better or worse than the typical format one sees in bouldering and sport climbing comps?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted In: Bouldering, Competitions
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23 Responses to Chris Sharma Wins Innovative Deep Water Soloing Comp In Spain

  1. matt lloyd October 26, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    holy shit i’m moving to spain, except do you think they make everyone listen to shitty dance music?

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  2. Matt Hoffmann October 26, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Could be pretty awesome in the Olympics and comps. And, of course it’s possible with plastic and a big pool. Not as exciting but, still cool.

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  3. DreamingGnar October 26, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    now THAT was a cool climbing comp! I second the move to spain.

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  4. Steve October 26, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Definitely a step up in terms of excitement/entertainment.
    In terms of the general public, the appeal would be there, but I would expect the crowd’s enthusiasm to be perhaps a bit off the mark. Would people cheer the wicked, flip-over whipper more than the actual sticking of the move?

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    • Narc October 26, 2010 at 11:44 am #

      Probably so but needing the crowd to understand the intricacies of climbing is one of the things holding back climbing comps from gaining more of a mass appeal in the first place. Even if you get people interested based on seeing climbers falling wildly into the water surely they can come to appreciate the actual climbing in some respect. I’d argue it’s no different than other sports where spectators don’t always know what is happening but they are entertained by the big crash, the big hit or the big dunk.

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    • Andrew October 26, 2010 at 11:48 am #

      I feel like people would cheer for the desperate dynos and when the competitors cut feet and end up getting back on, but yeah, they’d also probably cheer when someone fell going for the last move

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  5. Narc October 26, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    The other thing I wonder is how safe this sort of thing is? Sharma is quite experienced with DWS but even still you never know what might happen coming off a wall and falling that far into water.

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  6. Doug October 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    I think this has to be more exciting for non-climbers to watch. Personally, I always love to see some good sports action. Also, did an actual human read the DPM post before putting that up or did someone just take that straight out of google translate?

    I agree about the potential for injury, Narc. A belly-flop from 5 feet is painful enough, I would think a bad fall from 30+ might do some real damage. I’m sure someone knows about this, high diving has been a competitive sport for ages.

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    • Narc October 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

      Sure and they were clearly taking some steps to limit how painful falls were with the hose spraying the landing zone

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  7. greatidea October 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    I think this makes the comp interesting. It can make for more exciting off the deck all points off dynos that will get the average person more interested in the sport.

    Deep water soling is still my favorite discipline. The it’s safer version of soling.

    They should just hold comps at the cliffs but i guess it’s just to dangerous with the waves

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  8. toothbrush October 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Meh. I honestly don’t see the live appeal of watching that. Cool definitely. But in a fleeting sort of way. Let’s drop the concept that you can’t obtain beta before you climb a route. Lessen the time each climber has per route. Give everyone another go at the same route in succession. We’d see twice as many sends and those that flash or made it higher in the first attempts get more points or a rest. Throw in some wild card action of various degrees and you’ve got excitement and pure competition. Then the announcers can talk beta/holds/style/movement to the viewer and we would differentiate the master climbers from the others. End of story. This will help crowds see the difference between a strong climbers vs smart/strong flashmaster climbers. Free the beta man and let the viewers enjoy. Then we are all participating and not just the climber.

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  9. jon snow October 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    chris sharma is the bomb, coolest and most inspiring rock climber

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    • Narc October 26, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

      His Spanish isn’t bad either

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  10. dan October 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    even if it’s not the future of climbing comps, it’s definitely the future of climbing comp prizes: a bottle of hooch and a badass floppy hat

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  11. kevin October 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    If nascar has taught us anything its that people are highly attracted to the possibility of people getting hurt. While I personally think thats pretty messed up to want to see that happen it doesn’t cease to appeal to lots of people. And if enough people want to see that so that one day something like this could actually be on tv so other climbers and I could watch the amazing talent of these professional climbers then I’m not going to complain.
    All aside I think that was an awesome comp and I’m interested to know if anyone more are planned in spain, the us, or anywhere else

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  12. DreamingGnar October 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    I really think the whole format is brilliant. It’s hard for Muggles to understand roped climbing competitions because they tend to assume that climbers are all idiots who are about to die from a fall, or they see a rope and think “hey, rappelling… that’s safe.” For bouldering comps I frequently see “normal” people thinking “WTF!? I CAN JUMP TO THE TOP?” They just don’t understand why it’s hard.

    This format has a form of suspense and thrill that appeals to everyone. We’ve all performed, seen, or at least contemplated cliff-diving over water. DWS has a psychological aspect that is far more relatable to the general public, especially to those brave few Muggles who then thought to climb back up instead of swimming around to the beach.

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  13. yohans October 27, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    Awesome!!! I hope it spreads, because I want to compete. I think it would be cooler though if the setting would have caused people to fall more often in spots other than the dyno. The setters should make the climbers do some more committing moves up high like heel hook shenanigans.

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  14. joel October 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    for me, this is so naturally the way that spectator competition is going to go. everything about it is more exciting to the general public, and the falls are actually likely safer given the right conditions. competition climbing is simply not real rock climbing, for better or worse. i’d be surprised if this didn’t become the way televised climbing comps were run in the future.

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  15. dave November 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    …or even fall into a net, but I agree that this is more exciting to watch (for the general public) than normal low ball bouldering. People simply do not understand the difficulties associated with bouldering, but they understand big falls!

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  16. red November 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Competitive climbing is for douchebags. Why does climbing need to be ‘mainstream?’ Why do we have such a strong need to turn everything into a materialistic circle jerk?

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    • Narc November 4, 2010 at 7:40 am #

      Tell us how you really feel…

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  17. Mackan August 8, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Hi all,

    Luleklättrarna in Luleå, Sweden has been arranging an annual DWS – competition since 2006 (the first ever?).

    The comp. has grown exponentially every year, both wall heigt and participants/ spectators.

    Check out http://www.borrbult.nu for more info (in swedish unfortunately).

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  18. Jonas Wiklund August 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    a better link: http://www.borrbult.nu/search/label/DWS

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