USA Climbing team arrives in Vail earlier than usual for 2019 World Cup
EAGLE COUNTY — The world’s best bouldering competitors are usually in town this time of year, but in 2019, they planned a slightly longer stay.
Practicing up for their only home event on the World Cup tour, USA Climbing athletes took to Eagle Climbing + Fitness on Monday, saying the new gym is providing just what they need to get ready.
The 10,500-square-foot facility, which opened in November, is such an ideal venue, in fact, that it has allowed the team to arrive in Eagle County significantly earlier than the usual plan for getting here for the GoPro Mountain Games, which offers the United States’ only bouldering World Cup competition every year in June.
“Basically, we would end up staying in the Front Range, climbing in Denver and Boulder and then traveling out to Vail,” said the national team’s head coach, Josh Larson. “But having this here, so close to Vail, allows us more flexibility and less driving to get our practice sessions in.”
Extending the excitement
Gym owner Larry Moore said the World Cup competition at the GoPro Mountain Games always makes for the most exciting weekend of the year for athletes on his climbing team, but that the excitement began last week with a competition route setting clinic that took place at the gym.
“Three of the people who are putting up the boulders for the World Cup this weekend were facilitating the clinic, teaching the nuances of route-setting for competition style events,” Moore said. “We timed it so we could have some of the best setters out there come to town just a little bit early, host the (route-setting clinic), and then they were off to Vail to start setting up the World Cup.”
Fun at home
Training at Eagle Climbing + Fitness on Monday, USA Climbing national team member Drew Ruana said the gym is good for pros and Joes alike.
“There’s lots of fun boulder problems, it’s a really good spot for just climbing around,” he said.
Ruana, 19, celebrated his first-ever World Cup appearance at last year’s GoPro Mountain Games and said he can’t wait to get on the wall again this year. He said it’s also a really fun event for spectators.
“This style of climbing really suits Americans, so it’s fun to be on home turf for that,” Ruana said.
The men’s qualifying rounds start at 8 a.m. Friday, with the women scheduled to follow, beginning at 3 p.m. Semifinals and finals will take place Saturday, with semis starting at 9:30 a.m., men’s finals scheduled for 3 p.m. and women’s finals following at 4:45 p.m. The event will take place in Mountain Plaza at the base of Gondola One in Vail Village.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.