The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan will be the first to include rock climbing as an Olympic sport. For Utah’s thriving climbing scene, this will increase exposure of the competitive sport around Utah and the world.
The sport will be split into three climbing disciplines. The first is speed climbing, where climbers try to scale a 15 meter wall faster than their opponent. The next is lead climbing, a technical test where the person who climbs the highest while on a rope wins. The third discipline is bouldering, where climbers free climb short walls without the safety of a rope. The person who does the best throughout all three disciplines will be the winner.
For Utah, the inclusion of rock climbing in the Olympics will shine a light on its already thriving outdoor and climbing heritage. Utah’s varied landscape makes it a hub for outdoor climbing enthusiasts.
“Climbing has this ability to give you fulfillment because you’re doing something that a lot of people can’t do,” said BYU’s rock climbing instructor, Stacy Taniguchi.
USA Climbing, the national governing body of the sport, just announced this month that they are moving their headquarters from Colorado to Salt Lake City. This will make Utah a center for competitive climbers as well as outdoor enthusiasts.
“We have more cliffs in an hours drive of here than you can shake a stick at!” said rock climber, Matt Reeves.
For recreational and competitive climbers, the pleasure comes from problems solving and trusting your body.
“A big part of it is I think trusting what you’re capable of doing and how good your equipment is,” said Taniguchi.
In January, Utah will host the 2019 Combined Invitational which will follow the Olympic format that will be seen in 2020 and prepare climbers for the upcoming Olympic Qualifiers.