My wife and I just returned from accompanying our grandson to the National Youth Climbing Championships in Montreal. Our press will have covered the outstanding success of our Canmore team, taking home three of the 10 national championships, two seconds and a third (the most successful team in the country).
However, it was not the medals that were most remarkable and impressive to us, but the extraordinary fellowship, support and competitive ethic of these young athletes in this unique sport.
Having attended and participated in countless sporting events, this was our first exposure to competitive climbing. We were impressed beyond words by the way this group of young people conducted themselves and interacted with each other in such an intense and highly-skilled individual sport.
The team was made up of boys and girls from 11 to 18 years old, all helping and supporting each other to solve and climb their challenging routes to the best of their ability – older members assisting younger ones, and girls and boys strategizing together with no regard for sex or individual superiority, exhibiting only the best in camaraderie.
We had never seen a sport that came close to exhibiting such an amazing co-operative spirit spanning all ages and both sexes on a completely equal level.
It became apparent to us that having a facility like the Vsion Climbing Gym (and a coach of the quality and skill of Dung Nguyen) for our young people is indispensable, cultivating values and an ethic not only priceless to our community, but also of enormous benefit to our precious youth for the rest of their lives.
While we seek ways to help our Bow Valley youth express and occupy themselves in positive ways, it is clear that this sport is a treasure to our community that so values mountain culture and sport.
As we have now lost this amazing national coach and will likely lose the Vsion Gym, let us hope that the Town council, administration and citizens of Canmore ensure that the new climbing facility being built here provides a home for and meets and exceeds the needs of these exceptional young athletes who are lucky enough to enjoy this wonderful sport at both the competitive and recreational levels.