Vermont sport climber breaks down latest addition to 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Road to the Olympics

ESSEX, Vt. (WFFF) — The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will feature a new competition, sport climbing, which pits climbers against each other.

Julia Talbot—head coach of youth climbing teams at MetroRock in Essex—said competitive climbing is more than just making it to the top of the wall. “You have to be so driven, so driven,” said Talbot, who has been climbing for most of her life. 

“Climbing gave me such a good outlet growing up to be just myself,” she said. “It feels so good to finally be represented, it’s amazing.”

The sport features three disciplines, speed climbing, bouldering, lead climbing. Speed climbing puts two climbers against each other.  “Climbers will have time to figure out what path they can take that will be the fastest,” Talbot said.

The second discipline is bouldering. Athletes scale a number of fixed routes on a wall within a certain amount of time.

“This kind of climbing is a little bit more dynamic and a little more powerful,” Talbot said. “It’s more focused on how short and intense movements you can do instead of longer movements.”

The third discipline is lead climbing. Athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall within a certain time.  “And it’s intense, you have to make sure you have endurance, you have to make sure you are pacing,” Talbot said. 

At the games, each climber will participate in all three disciplines. It takes lots of endurance and upper and lower body strength to finally make it to the top. 

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