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Countdown to The World Games Birmingham: Sport climbing

Imagine standing at the bottom of a 15-meter, or nearly 50-foot, rock-climbing wall and needing to get to the top in less than six seconds.

That’s the reality speed sport climbers will face at The World Games 2022 this summer in Birmingham – less than a year after sport climbing made its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021.

“Sport climbing should prove to be one of the most exciting events for fans at The World Games in July,” The World Games 2022 CEO Nick Sellers said. “The competition takes place at historic Sloss Furnaces, a unique venue full of history. In addition, everyone realizes sport climbing tests each athlete physically, mentally and emotionally. It will be a hot ticket.”

So, what is sport climbing? It’s essentially competitive rock climbing requiring athletes to compete on artificial structures.

Three disciplines of sport climbing are part of The World Games 2022:

  • Speed — This is a duel between two climbers on a 15-meter wall, sloped at a 95-degree angle. The winner is the climber who reaches the top first. Both climbers compete on the same route.
  • Lead — Climbers have six minutes to climb as far up a 15-meter wall as possible, and each competitor gets one chance to climb. If the climber falls, the top height reached is recorded as the score.
  • Boulder — With a set time limit, climbers attempt to climb as many set routes up the wall as possible and score points based on route difficulty. This is the only one of the three disciplines that’s completed without a safety rope. The walls often feature steep overhanging surfaces, which raise the degree of difficulty.

In Birmingham, a total of 72 athletes will compete in the three competitions – 12 men and 12 women in each of the three disciplines.

An artificial rock climbing structure will be erected at Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark for sport climbing competitions.

Bouldering is the only one of the three sport climbing disciplines at The World Games 2022 that’s completed without a safety rope. (contributed)

At the Tokyo Olympics, all three disciplines were combined, which meant only one set of medals was awarded for men and another for women.

At The World Games 2022, however, the traditional competition of three distinct disciplines – on three successive days – is featured. That means there will be gold, silver and bronze medalists for men and women in each of the three disciplines.

The TWG2022 sport climbing competition features many compelling storylines, including:

  • Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine and Natalia Kalucka of Poland are the fastest climbers in the world, having won the 2021 men’s and women’s speed world championships. Both have qualified to compete at TWG 2022.
  • Miho Nonaka of Japan, who won silver at the Olympics in Tokyo, has also qualified to compete in women’s boulder in Birmingham.
  • Five Americans have qualified – John Brosler and Noah Bratschi in men’s speed; Emma Hunt in women’s speed; Joe Goodacre in men’s boulder, and Cloe Coscoy in women’s boulder and women’s lead. Can they take home a medal while competing on home soil?
  • Legendary Italian climber Stefano Ghisolfi has qualified in men’s lead. He has won 15 medals in his Climbing World Cup career. Can he capture gold at TWG 2022?