Cranbrook climber Gord McArthur wrapped up the competitive season on a high note in Russia, reaching the semifinals and placing 15th overall.
It’s the first time a Canadian has reach the semifinals for a UIAA World Cup event in more than 10 years, according to McArthur.
“It’s really hard,” said McArthur, “to be a North American to have any success against athletes like the Russians and the biggest shock for me about it was that it was in Russia.”
Russia is generally considered world leader when it comes to producing top climbing athletes.
“When you are the hosting country, you can have as many competitors as you want, so the field was—in the top 20—16 of them were Russians,” said McArthur.
He earned semifinal berth after qualifying by climbing two routes that were good enough to make the cutoff. A third route for the semifinal ended with a final placing for 15th overall.
The competition was a different format that what he was used to, as Russia made a few tweaks. Normally, there is only one climb to determine a spot for semifinals, but this time there was two.
Everyone was also drawn from one large group, rather than being split into two.
“That’s what made it even cooler, is the fact that I was able to beat a lot of people still, despite it being harder,” McArthur said.
So what made him climb so well in the qualifier and semifinals?
“I guess I just went into it believing that I could do it—that I could climb this,” McArthur said. “The way that their routes were set, I recognized right away that I trained that style—fast and efficient.
“I just really focused on taking everything and being okay with my surroundings and just knowing I could do it.”
It’s a nice way for the Cranbrook climber to finish, as this past season has been one of growth and improvement.
“You’re always learning and I guess, to finish the season off by making the top-15 really got me fired up because it just showed that things are starting to work,” said McArthur. “I’m on the right track now, so that was a big success for myself, for Canada, for my sport and so it just motivates me even more now.”
It may be the off-season from the competitive world cup circuit, however, McArthur will still be busy as he trains over the summer and prepares to represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games for ice climbing, which will be a demonstration sport.
“I’m not taking a break, I’m going to jump back into strength training for the next month and then climbing ice-axe specific training for six months so there’s no letting up,” McArthur said. “Next year is going to be a big year—if you want to win, you have to keep pushing through.”
McArthur has been able to pursue his climbing passion thanks to support from local Cranbrook businesses: High Country Sportswear, East Kootenay Credit Union, Hot Shots Cafe, New Dawn Developments, The Bedroom Furniture, Living Stones Developments, and Sun Life Financial.