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Sport climbers in Montana react to sport on Olympic stage

Sport climbers in Montana react to sport on Olympic stage
Posted at 2:28 PM, Aug 06, 2021

HELENA — At this year's Summer Olympics, traditional and non-traditional sports have been on display for almost three weeks. One of the newer, non-traditional sports that's been on display is sport climbing.

Competitors are competing in three different disciplines: bouldering, speed climbing, and lead climbing, and are looking to capture one set of medals.

Climbers local to Helena noted the ability to see one of their favorite sports on display on the world stage has been a great experience, and will hopefully change people's outlook on what is and is not a sport.

“It feels good that the rest of the world is finally kind of picking up on the fact that climbing is a proper sport,” said Kieran Hadley.

“It's really cool to see the growth, you know, climbing has kind of been sport identified as, not really a sport,” said Jackson Wetherill.

Despite some folks' thoughts on the sport, the excitement to have sport climbing be a part of the Olympic Games is resonating with climbers both young and old.

“I think it's really cool. And I like watching all the competitors, and it's just really awesome to see that level of climbing,” said Gillian Bovingdon.

“It's really cool to see that on such a high level and to be able to watch those high of athletes doing it,” said Leo Doolan.

Bouldering is a shorter, non-roped climbing style where competitors will test their mettle against various difficulties of courses. Speed climbing is a timed event where speed is the emphasis and the course does not change. Lead climbing is similar to speed climbing, in that it's timed and climbers are strapped into a belay system, but the course changes and is longer.

With sport climbing already set to be at the Paris Olympics in 2024, Wetherill noted that he's excited at the prospect of the sport becoming a staple at the games.

"To see it gaining that international recognition of it being something that you can actually put years and years of energy and effort to, it's really rewarding."