The banners lining Langford Drive read: “Building a National Sports Capital.” True to those words, the latest Olympic sport has landed in the thriving community with the opening today of the $ 3 million BoulderHouse climbing facility directly behind Starlight Stadium.
“We’re expecting a big push from the Olympics,” said Jean-Marc de la Plante, co-owner of the facility, which includes a 150 linear foot main wall.
“The exhibition in Tokyo [where climbing makes its Olympic debut] will certainly attract a lot of people to rock climbing.
Yet even before Tokyo, attracting people is exactly what sport has done from the local level to the Olympians.
“We have been one of the fastest growing sports over the past decade,” said de la Plante.
“The Olympic debut in Tokyo is the adrenaline rush of the sport. But much of the success of rock climbing has to do with the community of climbers, regardless of their skill level. It is an inclusive, welcoming and united sport and that is why climbing has developed so quickly.
Another reason is accessibility. De la Plante says he can make newcomers climb a wall within five minutes of their preparation. Langford’s two-story facility, the largest for rock climbing on the island, has a 6,000-square-foot children’s section.
At the elite end of the sport is BoulderHouse member and Olympic hopeful Rebecca Frangos among Canada’s top five climbers.
“I am living the Paris 2024 Olympics,” she said.
She is in an institution that could help her get there.
“I hope this place will attract more people to the sport,” said the 23-year-old.
“Climbing is an individual sport, but it doesn’t feel like it because you are part of a climbing community.
The growth of the sport meant BoulderHouse had outgrown its five-year-old downtown Victoria location.
“Langford’s vision of becoming a national sports capital really caught our eye,” said de la Plante.
Several of the 10 Canadian national training centers located in Greater Victoria are in Langford, notably for rugby, golf, tennis and mountain biking.
“This is a great opportunity and we are delighted with it,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said at BoulderHouse’s opening press conference on Wednesday.
It follows the recent opening of the Jordie Lunn Bike Park in Langford, named after the great cyclist who died.
“Leisure is our number one priority. We make recreation accessible to everyone and we’re always on the lookout for things to do for families, ”Young said.
“We are passionate about getting things done right and fast. There’s no point in dragging things out for three or four years. Change is good and Langford is constantly changing and evolving. We love partnerships like this and we love that our partners run the facility, not the city. “
Rock climbing continues to be a popular sport on the island with the new BoulderHouse joining the main climbing facilities located at Central Saanich and the University of Victoria. The region’s expertise in the sport is evident with Kimanda Jarzebiak, president of the Boulders Gym Climbing Society in Central Saanich, providing the color commentary for CBC-TV’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Twelve of 40 qualifiers from around the world for the Tokyo Games, including Canadians Sean McColl and Alannah Yip, trained at Boulders Gym with Libor Hroza of Victoria, the head coach of the Canadian high performance program.
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