Cranbrook ice climber Gord McArthur won the North American Championship at an ice climbing competition in Bozeman, Montana, this past weekend. McArthur also took fourth in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup, and currently sits in fourth place on the UIAA World Cup circuit. The competition took place Dec. 11-14. The two championships were combined in one event.
The fourth place finish is especially notable because it’s the first time in 13 years that a North American has made it into the finals for the world cup. The last was Will Gadd in 2002. Gadd is a good friend of McArthur, and also a mentor and former coach.
“To sort of fill in his shoes was a real honour for sure,” he said.
McArthur was down in Montana for five days.
“It’s always intense and obviously nerves were racing,” he said. “The usual kind of stress, but obviously it ended up being really successful.”
He said the energy there was electric and competing on home turf made the competition all the more special.
“There was a huge turnout of people. They were saying over 1,000 people were watching in the finals. That kind of energy is always really exciting to be a part of.”
The competition took place on a world cup structure built for the competition. McArthur competes on the technical lead difficulty. The group had to climb two qualifiers. Then if you qualified you’d go on to the semi-finals.
“There was one route to climb, which as we found out was quite a high caliber of difficulty,” he said. “From there if you qualified you’d go on to the finals.”
McArthur’s group began with almost 50 competitors, which were reduced to eight for the finals.
Next up on the tour is Cheongsong, Korea from Jan. 10-11. The county is five hours from Seoul and a haven for winter sports. It’s the site of a immense artificial ice climbing wall.
“I’ve got five more competitions, which would be Korea, Switzerland, Italy, France and then Russia,” he said.
His key right now to training is to remain focused on the overall season and not get too distracted by the big win in Bozeman.
“This was very successful and it was great, but I definitely have a long way to go in the season,” he said. “So just to maintain my training and now sort of take away what I’ve learned from this competition and apply that in training for the next few weeks.”
McArthur said one thing he’s learned from travelling to big competitions all over the world is to try to have all the logistics and planning organized to reduce stress.
“The idea for competing is to make things the least stressful as possible,” he said. “The more you travel, the more you compete, the more seasoned you become, so the more stress you can remove, which basically allows you to focus on the task at hand.”
McArthur also noted how grateful he is for the local support.
“I would definitely not be doing what I’m doing without local support,” he said, adding his family is also amazing support as well.