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Fab five from Canmore climbing club ascend to nationals

The Canmore Crew heads to Montreal for Youth Nationals from May 16-21.

CANMORE – A smile is worth a thousand words, but when you’re Maddy Mann then a smile usually means one thing: climbing.

Mann was practicing lead this week at Elevation Place in Canmore and, of course, she had a grin from ear-to-ear while scaling the climbing wall, similar to her happy hero, U.S. Olympic rocker climber Brooke Raboutou. 

“I don’t even notice it,” said Mann. “Apparently I’m always smiling even when I come down from the wall.”

Though, the high performance climber has a lot to beam about lately as she and four Canmore Indoor Climbing Society (CICS) teammates have qualified for youth nationals for lead and bouldering from May 16-21 in Montreal.

The fab five impressed at regional and provincial events in their respective categories, with Mann and Max Gath both making it to the finals for lead at provincials in their respective categories, while at boulder provincials, Mann, Gath and Owen Orchard made it to the semifinals. Mann also made it to the semis at the western regional lead event.

All five members of the Canmore high performance climbing team, a high school-aged squad, will reach for their goals at nationals. Clue Field is competing at bouldering nationals, a type of free climbing without use of a harness, and Timmy Mann, Gath, and Orchard competing in lead, where a climber goes up a route and clips their rope as they ascend.

Mann, however, qualified in both disciplines at nationals in the 16-year-old’s first appearance at the national competition.

Climbing on a team since she was in Grade 6, Mann compared the technical sport to a head-scratching math problem.

“You got to like figure it out and try different solutions and it’s like math and physics and that’s what I like,” she said. 

“Some of [the routes] were really my style, like slabby and technical, but some of them were not my style, like really dynamic and jumpy.”

Coaches Regen Waldman and Matt Lucas have worked with the young team and pick up on improvements every year. When up against city clubs, sending five to nationals is a big accomplishment and a feather in the cap of the small town team.

“It was cool that they all made it,” said Waldman. “We see them all the time in practice, but definitely at competitions, they do things differently than normal or try harder so it’s really impressive. They all improve so much every year and they’re really determined.”

While the Canmore crew’s confidence is high following regional and provincial events, a few will be looking for new heights at nationals. Coach Waldman thinks a few could be dark horse contenders in their respective categories in Montreal.

“Nationals are a hard competition, it’s like the top 10ish people from all the provinces and the level is really high,” said Waldman. “We’re really happy they got there and it’s basically just go out there and do well for you and the experience will help them a lot for next year.”

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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