Speed Climbing: A Guide To The New Olympic Sport And How It Works | GMTM
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Speed Climbing: A Guide To The New Olympic Sport And How It Works

ByScotty Jenkins

Published on Thu Mar 17 2022

|

2 min read

Speed Climbing: A Guide To The New Olympic Sport And How It Works

Speed climbing is a new Olympic sport that was added to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Speed climbing is considered a form of traditional vertical rock climbing, but gained massive popularity as climbers began 'racing' against other climbers, concurrently on two very similar parallel routes. As the sport grew in the outdoors, the interest of spectators, sponsors and a growing number of competitors led to the idea of holding races on artificial walls.

How Did Speed Climbing Originate?

Rock climbing became a popular sport in the 1970s when climbers would use ropes and protection gear to climb rock faces. Speed climbing is a relatively new sport that developed from traditional rock climbing.

The sport of speed climbing originated after rock climbing had reached wide popularity. It stemmed from how competitive climbers would race to see who can climb up a particular route the fastest. This is often done on a cliff or bouldering wall, but it can also be practiced and perfected on indoor climbing walls. There are now national and international competitions that take place every year.

What is the format of a speed climbing competition?

A speed climbing competition is a head-to-head matchup between two climbers. The first to touch the top of the wall wins the round.

What are some tips for people getting started in Speed Climbing?

The best way to get started in Speed Climbing is to find a local club or gym near you that offers it and give it a try. You can also connect with a coach or athlete from your local USA Climbing or Climbing Canada organization for more information on where you can find instruction or how to get involved in sanctioned competitions.

Want to get started? Check out the USA Climbing Prospect Form!

What are some examples of the routes that could be seen in a speed climbing competition?

Different routes can be seen in a speed climbing competition, but most are considered to be simple vertical routes with a few more difficult moves that allow competitors to 'sprint' up the wall. This is because the climbers need to maintain their momentum and not slow down while they're competing.

A speed climbing route can come with a variety of different moves, especially on artificial walls where holds can be removed and changed very quickly - even multiple times during a day of competitions. While racers are able to see and even practice a route before a competition, the variety of routes makes each new contest especially interesting.

What's the difference between speed climbing and traditional rock climbing?

The two sports have several similarities, such as the ability to use your hands and feet to ascend vertical surfaces. However, there are also many key differences between them.

Speed climbing is different from trad climbing because it only uses artificial holds that are bolted onto the wall. Trad climbers typically use "natural" features on the wall such as pockets or cracks that naturally occur on a cliff face. They'll generally use their hands and feet to ascend the rock while they climb which makes for a more difficult route.

Is there any age restriction for competitive speed climbing?

There's no age restriction for this sport. However, many people find it challenging when first starting. Young athletes though, that usually have less body mass and are more flexible, can compete at a high level early in their careers and perform some pretty amazing maneuvers.

The Climbing Canada Youth Speed Nationals that have a Qualifying Submission Form on GMTM is a great example of how the sport is gaining huge popularity in North America.

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