Climbing Escalade Canada released their first 2022 High Performance Program Intake along with the 10 athletes who will attend the first World Cup of the season. After a two-year hiatus from the Series, team Canada is back in full force pushing the strongest set of athletes the country has seen in over a decade. Today, we will discuss what makes each of these 10 athletes special.
First, the following athletes make up the first intake of the 2022 CEC High Performance Program. These athletes form the core of Team Canada as the National Federation positions itself for the Paris Olympic Games. With three years to prepare, and two before the first round of qualification the CEC has worked hard to secure funding and space for their developing athletes. These details will be further discussed in a later piece.
High Performance Program
- Alannah Yip – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Babette Roy – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Emi Takashiba – Lead, Combined
- Erica Velev – Speed
- Evangelina Briggs – Boulder
- Indiana Chapman – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Madison Fischer – Boulder
- Paige Boklaschuk – Boulder, Combined
- Rebecca Frangos – Lead, Combined
- Sophie Buitendyk – Lead
- Dylan Le – Speed
- Ethan Hoffman – Lead
- Ethan Pitcher – Speed
- Guy McNamee – Boulder, Combined
- Lucas Uchida – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Michael Finn-Henry – Speed
- Oscar Baudrand – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Sean Faulkner – Lead, Combined
- Sean McColl – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Victor Baudrand – Boulder, Lead, Combined
- Zach Richardson – Boulder
Although each of the above athletes have a lot of strength on offer, only five men and five women can go to the Boulder World Cup. The season opener in Meiringen is set to begin on April 8.
Team Canada’s Boulder World Cup Team – Meiringen
As one of Canada’s first Olympians, many will smile to see Yip competing on the World stage. Yip had a strong year, and secured her first outdoor V12 before managing a 14 place at the Tokyo Olympics. Upon returning to Canada, Yip continued competing and earned gold at the Kanata North American Cup Series (NACS) Event. She went on to secure silver at Canadian Boulder Nationals, second at the recent High Performance Competition (HPC) and earned bronze at Canadian Lead Nationals. Given a powerful technical round, Yip could excel in Switzerland.
As Canada’s Lead National Champion and the Richmond Oval’s NACS gold medalist, Chapman is currently Canada’s most consistent competition Lead climber. Although she excels most on a rope, her third-place result at the Kanata NACS, her third place result at the Boulder HPC, and making finals at Canadian Boulder Nationals shows that Chapman has what it takes to score well in Boulder. Still, Meiringen was a powerful competition last year and Chapman excels most on technical pieces.
Boklaschuk climbed into a second place finish at the Kanata NACS event last year, and fifth at Canadian Boulder Nationals. Boklaschuk is another athlete who progressed on a rope this year, pushing difficulty outside by climbing her first 5.13c. Boklaschuk is a competitor that has really good days, and given the right set, has the strength and technique to make a boulder semi-final.
After making finals at the Albuquerque NACS event, the Kanata NACS event, and taking bronze at Canadian Boulder Nationals, Fischer probably has the best odds of making the semi-final in Meiringen. Although Yip is undoubtedly more technically proficient, Fischer has the most power out of an of the above athletes. She won the Boulder portion of the recent HPC. Although technique remains extremely important at any World Cup event, being strong enough to play on the aggressive World Cup boulders is a must to make a World Cup semi-final.
Quebec’s Roy outclimbed Fischer in the Canadian Boulder Nationals semi-final, and only placed one spot behind in finals. She also earned fourth at the recent Boulder HPC by attempts to Zone. Roy is unique amid this field for she has progressed dramatically in both Lead and Boulder this year. She also hit new strength benchmarks along the way. Roy’s one-arm hang and one-arm pull up strength is legitimate.
Although McColl had a rough return to Boulder at Canadian Nationals, the Olympian appears back on track after a first-place finish in Boulder at the HPC. McColl finished 17 in the Olympics, but 15 in Boulder. McColl has said that the first Boulder World Cup of the season tends to be rough for him, but if he maintains his current performance; making second at Lead Nationals, second at the Lead HP Competition and first at the Boulder HP Competition; he could break through into semi’s in Meiringen.
Over the last year, Uchida was a force. After winning the Richmond Oval’s Lead NACS event and then winning Kanata’s Boulder NACS event, Uchida seemed unstoppable until Boulder Nationals disrupted his streak and carried him into fourth. With that said, Uchida climbed into second at the Boulder HPC and is quite possibly the physically strongest competitor on Team Canada. Uchida climbed well outside this year, moving quickly through several V13 boulder problems and flashing Shelter. Uchida has trouble on longer moves as a shorter climber, but when the move is just hard, he excels.
After making finals last year in a Lead World Cup, Baudrand is one of Canada’s most promising young athletes. His boulder results are far less consistent than his lead results, but the wide-knuckled Lead National Champion has a cool head that could make him calm enough to earn a semi-final placement in the upcoming World Cup. He qualified in seventh in the recent Boulder HPC. He took silver at the Kanata NACS event and climbed his first V14 this year. Furthermore, he took bronze at Boulder Nationals.
Despite an unlucky last year, nobody on Team Canada is better at pure power problems than Zach Richardson. He did not compete as well as he may have liked to at Canadian Boulder Nationals, but he made NACS finals in Albuquerque. When the round suits Richardson, very few can keep pace with him. Given the same boulder problems as last year, the Meiringen competition would arguably suit Richardson’s larger, powerful style. Still, his inconsistency is a weakness on the World Cup stage.
The younger of the two Baudrand brothers, Oscar Baudrand not only climbed his first V14 this year, but he also climbed his second V14 as well as his first V13. Baudrand also made a Lead semi-final this year and is an athlete that has excelled dramatically in these last months. Baudrand made finals at Boulder Nationals, but could not break past sixth. At the recent HPC Baudrand out climbed his brother and earned fourth. As the youngest competitor heading to Meiringen, Baudrand’s recent rapid progression means that anything could happen for the Salt Lake local this year.
Featured image of Sean McColl by Daniel Gajda