On May 27 and 28, athletes from all over the world gathered in the small town of Canmore, Alberta for the first bouldering World Cup held on Canadian soil. A field of 29 women and 40 men from 10 different countries vied for the prestigious title of World Cup champion. Top ranked climbers Anna Stöhr and Kilian Fischhuber from Austria attended, along with numerous other talented international climbers. True to Canadian form, the athletes found themselves climbing in the snow on the qualifying day, as the competition was held at an outdoor venue.

After the qualifying round, Canadian men Eric Sethna, Sean McColl, Josh Muller and Terry Paholek made it through to the semi final round, while Alannah Yip, Elise Sethna, Thirza Carpenter and Stacey Weldon made it through on the Canadian women’s side. From the 20 semifinalists in each category, only six advanced to the final round.

As finals approached, the sun came out, the snow cleared and the crowd gathered under the big-top in Millennium Park, a ten minute walk from downtown Canmore. A large range of countries were represented in the final round, including Austria, Slovenia, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada.

The finals proved to be a spectacular event, as each athlete put on an amazing show of strength and technique. Canadian Sean McColl was the definite crowd favourite, having qualified in second place. However, the crowd went wild for all the athletes as they were tested on world class boulder problems created by a talented team of Canadian route setters overseen by French IFSC routesetting legend Jacky Godoffe. After the round ended, and the noise died down as the final climbers finished their attempts, it was Japan who came out on top. Tsukuru Hori and Akiyo Noguchi received the gold medal for the men’s and women’s categories respectively. Klemen Becan of Slovenia and Anna Stöhr of Austria grabbed the silver medals while Korea’s Jain Kim finished a respectable third for the women. Canada’s Sean McColl delivered an outstanding performance, topping the third problem to receive the bronze medal. This was McColl’s first World Cup appearance of the season and we are sure to see more of him in the upcoming months as the World Cup season progresses.

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An additional highlight of the competition was the Canadian national team ranking, which is based on the points each athlete receives points according to their placing in the competition. Japan dominated with two gold medals, while France followed in second place. Canada trailed closely behind for the bronze.

Canada’s first World Cup was an enormous success that could not have happened without the dedication and hard work of everyone involved and in particular, competition organizer Dung Nguyen.

Reported by Vikki Weldon