Olympic Climbing: Thoughts from Sasha DiGiulian

Sasha Climbing Pure Imagination, 9a
Photo by Keith Ladkinski

A couple of months ago we asked athletes in the newly approved Olympic sports, Surfing (Mary Osborne), Softball (Jessica Mendoza), Skateboard, (Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana), and Climbing, (Sasha DiGiulian) to comment on how they felt about their sport being added.  While Mary, Jessica and Lyn-Z all had very positive comments, Sasha’s were a bit controversial.  With her permission, we are adding her commentary here.  

Not everyone agrees that climbing fits into the Olympic mold. I question whether the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has accepted the sport, which encompasses a diverse array of disciplines, by condensing three very distinct styles of climbing into a single overall category. The approved structure is a weird amalgam of speed, bouldering, and lead (or sport). Think about it like bundling mogul skiing with downhill racing—very different events, very different athletes. The way the sport is packaged for the Olympics is a fabricated, artificial version of competitive climbing, and the move demonstrates the IOC’s lack of understanding of the sport.
As competitions diverge from rock climbing, climbers face a choice: do you dedicate your time to climbing on plastic or on rock? Because training for one will not be easily compatible to the other. Outdoor climbing trips will not elevate competition performance. For that reason, I’m not sure whether I will compete in 2020 or not. Regardless, I will certainly strive to play an active role in Olympic climbing.
But even though I disagree with the format, I’m enthusiastic about the sport reaching the Olympics. While its inclusion will have a ripple effect that will upset many hardcore outdoor climbers, I see it as an opportunity for the overall sport to grow and a remarkable opportunity to share climbing with the world.
– Sasha DiGiulian
Additionally, she shared two articles with us that she has written for Outside Magazine. You can read them here and here.

What do you think about her comments?