As per this week’s piece regarding the developing Canadian National Team, a new pool of athletes will come together for the second World Cup of the season. With the Series opener behind us, and 80% of Canada’s Meiringen Team heading to Korea, this World Cup may show the experience many of the country’s best athletes attained in Switzerland.
Although all the competitors on Team Canada are experienced climbers, the level of the international field is higher than what most of the team has experienced in the last two years. Canada’s lockdown prevented most Canadians from experiencing any form of competition preceding the North American Cup Series.
For many of Canada’s best, the Meiringen World Cup served to break in their seasons. Olympian Sean McColl said in the past that the first Boulder World Cup is always tough for him. The former National Champion has shown incredible development in consistency in these last months and may break into semis if he can hit his stride. The same can be said for much of Canada’s field.
Another difference between the upcoming Seoul World Cup and Meiringen will be the Speed discipline. Dylan Le and Erica Velev will represent Canada’s blossoming Speed program in this upcoming event.
Boulder – Women
Yip finished second, only one place behind Madison Fischer, in the Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC) High Performance (HP) Boulder Competition. She concluded her Meiringen World Cup experience 44 places behind the HP Champion. This event was the first time Yip missed a semi-final in years. Although National disparities and international placements are never proportional, it is easy to presume that Canada’s Olympian will improve off her Meiringen performance.
Yip is a strong climber and the most experienced of the women in the field. With that said, making a boulder semi-final has never been more challenging. The women’s field is deep.
Roy is the wildcard of this competition. Although Indiana Chapman earned third to Roy’s Fourth at the HP competition, Roy is a more powerful climber than can pull harder when the boulder problem gets physical. If Meiringen suggested anything about this upcoming season, it was difficulty. The level is increasing for both the women and the men, and the setters must keep up with that increasing difficulty should they wish to maintain separation. Roy earned 64 place in Meiringen and will likely improve due to her increased experience.
As one of Canada’s most technically adept competitors, Chapman could really break through during a coordinated round in Korea. If the 2021 Korean Bouldering Championships are indicative of this upcoming competition, there will be balance-based sections in the opening rounds. Chapman tends to excel on lower angle climbing and could move higher in the rankings given a very technical qualifier.
As the obvious favourite coming out of Meiringen, Fischer holds at least one quality that appears paramount for the upcoming World Cups: power. As the most physically strong competitor in the larger, jumpier style, she seems to stand the best chance of working her way through the intensely physical World Cup rounds. If she attains a second semi-final in Korea, the consistency we saw from her in the national-level events last year will appear to have translated to the international level despite her relative inexperience.
While Fischer may have more get-up-and-go power than anyone on the team, Frangos carries the greatest amount of small box strength on the team. She crimps hard, and can match tiny grips, but appears to have trouble performing on the day of the competition. Frangos is easily one of the strongest female climbers in Canada on rock. Should she manage to translate that high-level intensity to plastic, Frangos could surprise. A thin-hold round might benefit this Canadian.
Boulder – Men
Guy McNamee will take over for Zach Richardson at the Seoul World Cup. Although McNamee has slipped in his National Ranking since 2020, he is a former Boulder National Champion and one of the best plastic pullers in the country. The intensely physical climber is unlikely to struggle on the larger features of the Qualification round. As this will be his first World Cup of the season, McNamee could struggle to find his footing. Conversely, he could benefit from having no expectations.
After just missing the Top on three qualification boulders at Meiringen, Uchida could become the most improved climber between World Cups. If he can perform with just a little more precision, the HP Competition silver medalist should be within throwing distance of the semi-final. Although Victor Baudrand and Sean McColl stood nearly 50 places ahead of the Ontarian, Uchida stands as one of the more consistent athletes from this last year.
After qualifying fourth at the HP Competition, Baudrand went on to earn 63 in Switzerland. He too will hope to improve his score. After an strong developmental year outdoors, Baudrand continued a streak of strong performances. Baudrand appears to have trouble with more technical elements of the sport, but as one of the strongest and tallest athletes on the team, he could break out this year if he hits his stride in Seoul. The biggest issue for Baudrand has been maintain consistency at the top of the field.
As the best qualified Canadian male from Meiringen, McColl is in a good place to make semi-finals in Seoul. Although he struggled in last year’s World Cups, it seems that McColl has returned to his usual self. He showed marked progression over these last six months. His consistency has returned to 2019 levels, and it seems like a confidence inspiring performance in Korea could carry him through the remainder of the season.
He is currently Canada’s most promising male athlete for the Olympic team. His two semi-final placements last year along with his 35 placement in Meiringen earlier this month may make him the first male athletes to qualify for the male Canadian Olympic Team. Baudrand has a technical strength, and an unbending level of finger strength that could propel him toward a semi-final. He seems the most likely to flourish on the international stage in the next year. Still, that presumes an increase in performance from the Meiringen World Cup.
Dylan Le and Erica Velev are two of Canada’s best Speed climbers. Still, they will each require fast runs and a bit of luck to make finals in Korea. If they persist in Speed over the season, they should improve as their focus are currently varied. Their weakness as speed climbers, right now, is that they do not specialize. Both athletes are strong at more than the simple Speed discipline. A person wonders at their potential given a more direct line of focus.
The World Cup will begin May 6 and carry through May 8.