A couple months ago I was invited by Kimanda Jarzebiak to travel to Victoria,BC to coach a competition clinic for athletes at The Boulders (http://www.climbtheboulders.com/). I said yes immediately for the obvious reasons being that I love to coach and I thought it would be a great opportunity.
I really had two objectives while in Canada. First and foremost was to coach at this clinic with Sean McColl, Stacey Weldon and Dung , all of whom coach the Canadian climbing team. And the second was to be there as the team manager for Team USA to get a lay of the land (Youth World Championships are at The Boulders this summer…and its the first time ever to have this event in North America!) to plan for this summers event.
I believe this clinic was the first of its kind. It was created for athletes who wanted to get more experience, and direct feed back, with flash and onsight format competition. The route setters set comp specific (European style!) qualifier routes and final routes; we had video preview just like at any other World Cup or World Championship event, recording of all athletes, special isolation zones, and basically the same rules. The only differences were that we didn’t score the athletes, nor did anyone go home with medals or huge checks $$. BUT each athlete did go home with a wealth of knowledge that they can grow with as they continue their training for future competitions. And by participating in this clinic each athlete gained more experience dealing with the pressures and stress of competition even though it wasn’t a real competition. Each athlete took this clinic as if it were the real deal, as they should have, so I have no doubt that when they enter their next flash/onsight competition they will indeed be stronger and more equipped to deal with their stress.
Overall I was very impressed with all of the athletes as all of them were motivated and gave 100% mentally and emotionally. But even more importantly, they were all supportive of one another despite not knowing everyone. One of my favorite moments of the whole clinic was when I heard all of the athletes (from ages 12-19) cheering for a 32 year old man, who was part of the clinic (with no previous competition experience) and whom the athletes did not previously know, on his final route. The cheering made me happy inside because sometimes I feel like there may be more negative than positive in our society, and watching the young athletes embrace someone who was so unfamiliar with their competition world was very up lifting. Climbing is typically a friendly sport in that regard, but nonetheless I was impressed. I look forward to seeing those athletes in the future whether it be at competitions or at the crags.
The gym was incredible, and I quote from Graeme, an IFSC technical delegate from the UK, that this facility is one of the best competition venues in the world. It is Kimanda’s baby and there’s certainly more about this facility than I know, but it is multifaceted and I feel comfortable stating that even with as little as I know. The gym was a small bouldering/top gym that was part of a high school recreation area, but Kimanda had a vision to create a climbing academy, the first of its kind in North America. European schools have such a thing and are very successful, and thanks to Kimanda, North American finally has one now as well. Hopefully this facility leads the way for more in our future. Not only is it part of a climbing academy, but stroke victims can undergo therapy at this facility and research has shown it to quite successful since climbing requires us to use both sides of our brain. Kimanda expanded this facility (i forgot to mention its a not-for-profit) and created one of the top competition venues in the world and I have no doubt that she will be hosting quite a spectacular event this summer for everyone! Trust me, you will want to be at the Youth World Championships in August.
I stayed in Victoria for a few days following the clinic to learn from Kimanda. To learn what you wonder? Really, a lot more than I expected to. Kimanda is one of those extremely rare and truly professional women in the climbing industry who also moves forward with a good heart. She’s one of those women who would attempt to save the world if she could, who knows a lot about a lot, who walks with confidence and grace, who knows when (and how) to say no and when to stand up and be heard. She’s an inspiration, and she even has a miracle dog, Boo, who broke his back and was paralyzed but who currently runs around wagging his tail all day. I really look up to this woman and aspire to be like her when I grow up 😉
Below are a few photos of my adventures on the island.