A few months ago we got an email from one of our athletes, Gord McArthur. Gord’s a talented and driven ice climber and a member of the Canadian National Team. Thanks to his strong showing at the 2013 ice climbing world championships in Kirov, Russia, Gord was invited to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he’ll compete in the ice climbing “cultural event." We tracked down Gord in the midst of his busy training schedule to ask him a few questions about Sochi and ice climbing as a possible Olympic sport…
Gord McArthur ice climbing at the Italian World Cup. Photo: © Alutech Italien
What's the difference between a "cultural event” and a full medal sport? Could ice climbing be a medal sport someday?
Essentially, the movement of ice climbing in the Olympics has been on the table for about three years now. Ice climbing is being considered as a full medal sport, perhaps even as early as 2018, in Korea. That's why this year, this opportunity in the upcoming Sochi games is so huge. Ice climbing is actually quite hopeful, as there's a lot of support to push it through. It was unfortunate that rock climbing never made it, so this is kinda like the last hope for any form of climbing to make it into the Olympics, officially.
How many people will be competing?
There will be at least two or three athletes from each country. How it's going to look competition-wise, we're still not sure. Those details will unfold likely by the end of November. However it looks, it's going to be a great opportunity to show the world why ice climbing should be inducted.
How did you end up getting invited?
The criteria for invitations firstly was based on points in the world cup tour. At the 2013 world championships, in Kirov, I broke the top fifteen, which was the first time a North American had done so in a lot of years. That result got me the most points in North America.
What does having ice climbing at Sochi mean for the sport?
It’s huge. It’s an opportunity to introduce a new sport to a lot of viewers that are unaware of how rad ice climbing really is. The Olympics need to keep introducing sports that people want to watch. “Extreme" isn't really the focal point, but at least “edgy,” as in "Lets get people on the edge of their seats." Ice climbing is going to do that.
What does this invite mean to you, personally?
Anyone who competes can understand when I say it truly is a dream come true, an opportunity of a life time. Even if it's not a medal sport, to say that i've been there, to have had an impact on the world, to grow the sport of ice climbing… Totally amazing.
How are you preparing?
I've been training all summer, pushing myself harder than ever before, so that when the time comes, for my competition season (World Cup tour), I'll be the most fit I've ever been, ten-fold.
Any ice climbing training tips?
I think the most useful info could give, for competing specifically, is mileage on your tools on manmade structures. The closest you can get to the real thing (World Cup structures) will offer the best training. Besides that: power power power. Train power as much as possible. The more power you have, the less you have to worry about other things (like endurance).
What tools do you use in competition?
Definitely the NOMIC. It has a long reach when "going up," and is very stable on less steep terrain.
Who are the favorites for this event?
The favorites in the competitive ice climbing world are typically the Russians and Koreans. But that's going to change this year.
When you're not competing, what’s your favorite place to climb ice outside?
The canadian rockies of course! But I also love dry tooling in l'Usine, in France. A massive cave that offers some of the most fun dry tooling in the world.
Stay up to date with Gord and the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi