Last week, Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC) wrapped up a 10-day National Team training camp, held in Vancouver, January 28 to February 7, 2019. Based on the feedback from the athletes, the national governing body for competition climbing is to be credited for a very successful event.

The longest and most extensive training camp for Open National Team athletes to date, the athletes did sessions at four different local gyms (both Hives and both Base5 locations), as well as Vancouver Circus School and Coast Performance Rehab.

We caught up with CEC High Performance Director, Andrew Wilson, and some of the athletes for their behind-the-scenes impressions of the training camp.

“The goal,” Wilson told us, “was to bring the athletes together and start building a team culture. […] In particular, I think the movement exploration and resilience work has been very engaging for the group. We tried to take the athletes out of their comfort zone and encourage them to use creativity in approaching movement puzzles. I think the circus session and obstacle course days were particularly good for this.”

The goal was to bring the athletes together and start building a team culture.

Wilson should be pleased because the sense of team spirit was a big take-away for the athletes.

Below are excerpts from interviews with Ontario-based Lucas Uchida, and Rebecca Frangos, who is currently studying at University of Victoria.

Have you attended a team training camp before? If so, was this one different in any way (if so, how)?

Lucas: I have attended a number of training camps in the past for the Youth National Team, however this is the second Open National Team camp I have attended. Compared to the previous camp, it was much longer… Team members could choose if they wanted to attend the full camp or only part. We spent a lot more time doing performance specific drills…whereas at the Vail camp we spent more time doing team building exercises and debriefing our experience at the Vail World Cup.

Becca: This camp was the first time many of us were able to train together and learn from each other over a longer stretch of time which was a really valuable experience and something we all hope is able to happen more often in the future.

What skills did you focus on during the training camp?

Lucas: Team camaraderie, resilience, performance under pressure, and movement skills.

What kind of drills did you do during the camp to target those skills?

Lucas: We did a number of competition performance drills over the course of the camp… competition simulations, one-try boulders with a personal stake to increase pressure, and drawing the various loading forces on a “map” of a problem before trying it.

Becca: A mix of movement drill specific days, mock competitions followed by debriefs, strength/conditioning sessions, mental training tactics and a team building day at the Vancouver Circus school.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the training camp for you?

Becca: This biggest challenge for me when training in groups is letting go of expectations and keeping an open mind. When I train with others at a similar level it is very motivating but the environment can become super competitive really easily, which for me takes away from the whole experience. This camp was great from that standpoint in that everyone was incredibly supportive of each other and I felt like I got to know the few select athletes I haven’t worked much with in the past much better.

What are some highlights of your experience?

Lucas: Getting to know everyone more, even just a little, has been a big highlight. It is a great feeling to know you have the team there to help support each other.

Becca: The highlight of the camp was getting to train with so many hardworking and likeminded teammates. Canada is such a big country so it is not often we all have the opportunity to climb together and learn from each other. We also spent Saturday evening at the Vancouver Circus school learning tricks on Olympic size trampolines, trying our hand at juggling and also got to learn some moves on silks which was so much fun and a great team building opportunity.

Canada is such a big country so it is not often we all have the opportunity to climb together and learn from each other

Did you go into the training camp with any specific personal goals?

Lucas: No specific goals beyond making the most of my experience and getting to know my teammates more. Personal questions I was thinking of during the camp: “Are you willing to stand out?” “Am I willing to take risks among my peers?” “Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone?”

Becca: My main goal was to glean as much knowledge as I could from my teammates, the coaches and setters who helped put the camp together.

Social media posts make it look like you had a pretty good time. Is it safe to say that you had fun?

Lucas: Yes! Absolutely!

Athletes currently part of the National Teams Program (NTP) are: Sean McColl, Alannah Yip, Jason Holowach, Allison Vest, Seb lazure, Rebecca Frangos, Lucas Uchida, Babette Roy, Zach Richardson, Indiana Champman, Bronwen Karnis, and Victor Baudrand. The CEC announced the athletes who will be part of the NTP on January 3, 2019. Selections were made based on the new qualification criteria, looking at rankings from a previous or most recent World Cup season or a World Championships. There will be another round of athletes selected based on results from National Championships.

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