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Quick Canmore climber has to be at her fastest at youth worlds

"I don't know what she's going to do at worlds, but this, to me, already sets up [Oceane Gelinas] for being a threat for years to come."

CANMORE – Up in less than 10 seconds.

That's the marker coaches are aiming for Canmore climber Oceane Gelinas to hit when she travels to Dallas, Texas in August for the International Federation of Sport (IFSC) Climbing Youth World Championships.

The 15-year-old natural qualified to youth worlds for the first time in Youth B's speed competition, which is head-to-head racing to the top of a 15-metre high wall, and is looking to land in the top-16 bracket, where "anything can happen."

"I'm going to train on it a lot and hope to get a faster time," said Gelinas. "It's definitely going to be very difficult."

At the end of April, Gelinas placed second at a time of 11.08 seconds and met the qualifying time standard at the Youth Speed Nationals in Calgary to secure a spot at youth worlds.

Gelinas, who spent many of her days during the pandemic practicing on a makeshift climbing wall in her basement, hadn't planned on entering the speed competition at nationals. Although, her game had elevated drastically in the past two years.

"I entered the competition with no expectations and kind of realized I was one of the fastest people there," said Gelinas, who's strongest in bouldering.

"I had to like really spike to get to the top three position, but it wasn't too challenging."

In a sport that's easy to mess up and slip, especially as someone charges up a wall beside you, mental toughness plays a big role for athletes.

In the Canmore teen's case, her progression throughout the years has impressed coaches.

Chris Neve, high performance manager at the Calgary Climbing Centre where Gelinas trains full time, said her natural physical gifts have always made her stand out against other athletes, but she had a long way to go during competitions.

"For her to go through that round and stay as calm as she did, it showed the level of maturity that increased with her, like, she's just become a more complete climber," said Neve. "The strength has always been there and her mental game has really improved and that's what speed is about, it's handling that mental side of it."

At youth worlds, Neve thinks it's viable for Gelinas to qualify for the top-16 knockout rounds, but she will have to shave off about a second and a half from her current time.

"Our goal would be to get her under 10 seconds and I think that would be a really good shot for her to get that final round," Neve said.

On May long weekend, Gelinas has a chance to qualify for youth worlds in bouldering and lead at the national championships in Montreal.

"I don't know what she's going to do at worlds, but this, to me, already sets up [Gelinas] for being a threat for years to come," said Neve. "She's got that confidence now that she's in there, so for us, as coaches, that is a really a big step for her to be able to handle all that pressure that was something that was really difficult for her."

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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