Beek climbs to new heights on World Cup

Cranbrook climber returns from successful competitive climbing circuit.

  • Mar. 23, 2017 4:00 p.m.
Noah Beek hits the climbing structure in France during a stop on the UIAA competitive climbing tour.

Noah Beek hits the climbing structure in France during a stop on the UIAA competitive climbing tour.

Noah Beek has been around the world and he’s climbed to some pretty extreme heights along the way.

The Cranbrook athlete is back home after competing in the UIAA World Cup that started in December and included eight events in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.

The World Cup circuit features the top competitive climbers in the world, hailing from South Korea, Russia and even Canada.

That’s right — Beek is following in the footsteps of his mentor Gord McArthur, who has put the country on the competitive climbing map for the last half-dozen years and represented Canada on the global stage at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

This past season was a banner year for Beek, who earned some impressive results, including capturing the North American Championship in Colorado, a fourth-place finish in China and a second-place finish at the World Juniors in France.

“It was such an amazing experience this year,” said Beek. “It was so fun, moments of no fun, and so much emotion.”

This is Beek’s third season on the World Cup tour, which he did alongside McArthur with fellow Cranbrookian Ineke Rhebergen also competing in the women’s division.

The World Cup circuit started off strong for Beek, who finished as the North American champion at the first event in Durango, Colorado, by being the top North American by placing seventh overall.

“My first time making finals in Durango, I think, was probably the defining moment of the season,” said Beek, “because it was so unexpected. It’s kind of a home crowd, we were in America, but still it’s more of a home crowd than Europe.

“Making semi-finals and first place was unexpected, then making finals which, I was shooting to make semi-finals…It was all so good and I learned so much and I loved it.”

Beek followed the Durango competition up with a fourth place finish in Beijing, China, and seemed destined for a spot on the podium until Nikolai Kuzovlev, the last climber, hit the structure and captured first place, bumping Beek down a ranking.

“He climbed amazing and was the only one to top the route, so he definitely deserved it,” Beek said.

Each competition structure is set by a different route-setter, which varies up the styles and  approaches the climbers take for each event.

Beek attributed his success at the first two events to the routes that played to his strengths.

“Those were the two Russian setters and they set very powerful and boulder-y, really strong moves and very technical, which is kind of my style,” said Beek, “so I feel I had a bit of an advantage with those ones compared to all the other ones where they had different setters that didn’t set to my ability.

Beek continued his tour of the world with stops in Cheongsong (Korea) Saas Fee (Switzerland) Rabenstein (Italy) and Champagny-en-Vanoise (France) — all with impressive results.

Champagny-en-Vanoise hosted one World Cup event, however, it was also the site for the Youth World Championships, where Beek nabbed second place in the U22 category.

For now, Beek will enjoy a brief respite from training with the World Cup tour now in the offseason. However, he’s caught the competition bug and is fired up about next year and what the future has in store for the sport.

Though not an podium sport at the Olympics, the UIAA is shooting for climbing’s inclusion into the 2022 program, which will be hosted in Bejiing.

“My progression — this year I wasn’t really expecting to do as well as I did, so it was really nice to see that,” said Beek.

“I’ve always progressing and it’s pretty common for climbers to hit plateaus, where they just don’t continue to grow in their strength, but I haven’t really hit that yet, so it’s pretty satisfying.”

• Beek would like to thank High Country Sports and Rocky Mountain Prosthetics and Orthotics for supporting him during the competitive climbing season.