GoPro Mountain Games host only IFSC Climbing World Cup event in the Americas (video) | VailDaily.com

GoPro Mountain Games host only IFSC Climbing World Cup event in the Americas (video)

The annual GoPro Mountain Games return to Vail this week and preparations are already well underway for the International Federation of Sport Climbing World Cup with their climbing wall being installed along the base of Vail Mountain next to Gondola One and Mountain Plaza. The 18-foot high and 80-foot long wall was brought to Vail a few weeks early so crews could build the wall and set the routes for the pro and the amateur competitions.

With World Cup Climbing being included in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the amount of athletes coming to compete has increased dramatically and so have the crowds of spectators. "Right now we have 191 athletes competing which is definitely a record for Vail. I think we've typically had an average of 110 athletes in years past," said Tom Boyd, spokesperson for the Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the GoPro Mountain Games.

World Cup Climbing teams from 28 different countries plus the United States will be represented by 61 women and 130 men later this week. Qualifying rounds will take place on Friday, June 8 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Semi-finals will be held on Saturday, June 9 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and finals will be on Saturday from 3 to 6:30 p.m. and it definitely draws a crowd.

"It's so dramatic to watch. It's just as thrilling and intense as that last minute three-pointer in basketball during a tied game or other sports that keep you on the edge of your seat," Boyd said. "We've had over 3,000 people watch the finals in Vail."

The athletes make it look so easy. Once you realize they are supporting themselves with just the tips of their fingers and using skill, raw power and finesse to make their moves, you gain even more of an affinity for the sport.

With climbing gaining popularity, the GoPro Mountain Games not only hosts the professional athletes, but also amateurs. The Youth Competition on Sunday morning, June 3 is already sold out. The Citizens Competition will be held later that day and the first wave is sold out, too. For a full schedule, please visit http://www.mountaingames.com.