CANMORE – One of Canada's best climbers Becca Frangos has her eyes set on the Summer Olympic Games and key for the Canmore-native getting there might be to stop caring so much.
Big changes are on the horizon in sport climbing and qualifying for the Olympics will become increasingly more difficult for athletes. However, despite the tough road ahead, the 24-year-old lead and bouldering specialist says her confidence hasn't been this high in years.
“I used to put so much pressure on myself to perform that it took away from me being able to be present and climb confidently and this would lead to disappointing results despite being physically prepared,” Frangos said in an email to the Outlook. “This may sound strange, but I feel like this year I’ve really been able to stop caring so much and I really do have a renewed perspective on life.”
Frangos is currently in France with the rest of the top sport climbers in the world as she tours the IFSC Climbing World Cup. She competes in lead this weekend in Briançon.
France is also the place Frangos hopes to be climbing in two years from now when the 2024 Olympics come to Paris.
After graduating last year from the University of Victoria with a degree in Biology and Psychology, Frangos said she has put everything on hold to focus on getting to Paris.
“Of course it’s been a dream of mine for a long time to represent Canada at the Olympics and I am working really hard to have this dream become a reality, but it’s not everything to me,” said Frangos. “I have a lot of other goals still to accomplish at the World Cup level as well as outdoors and many goals outside of sport.”
Although, things will be shifting in a new direction on next season’s world cup circuit which isn't beneficial for athletes. Each country will only be given a baseline quota of two athletes instead of five – essentially making it more difficult to compete in world cups. On top of the change, Olympic qualifying begins August 2023.
It’s been a sobering year for Frangos. She’s been grieving an awful family tragedy, and was out sick with COVID-19 in May after travelling to the United States to prepare for a world cup. Her season took a hit due to the virus’ lingering after-effects.
“After my quarantine was done and I wasn’t feeling sick anymore, the biggest challenge for me recovering from COVID was that my energy levels were really low for about three weeks even after I was testing negative,” said Frangos.
“That made it really difficult to train properly ahead of the last few bouldering events of the season in June and I also found it hard to keep my heart rate down when I was lead climbing.”
So far, she’s yet to qualify for a semifinal in the world cup the season (top 20 for bouldering, top 26 for lead). However, out of 85-105 climbers in her two main disciplines, Frangos has been making positive improvements and finishing in the top half of the field in her best lead events this season.
“Making the semi-final round at the World Cups becomes increasingly difficult each season,” she said. “With lead climbing, the difference between 15-20 positions at the world cup level is usually just a few moves, often results don’t show the whole picture.”
In current 2022 world cup rankings, Frangos is second among Canadian women in lead, and sixth in bouldering. While recovering from COVID, Frangos competed in two of her three bouldering events this season.
“There’s still a lot that needs to happen [for] the remainder of this season to set myself up well for next year, but I am feeling like I am really trending in the right direction to make that happen,” Frangos said.
In Tokyo 2020, when sport climbing made its Olympic debut, all three disciplines – speed, lead, and bouldering – were mashed together in one event. Many didn’t think it was a true representation of the sport and things will be different in Paris.
Speed is its own event and lead and bouldering will be combined in 2024. There will be a total of 20 spots each for men and women in lead and bouldering combined.
“Each year has its ups and downs, but I do feel like I am physically and mentally I am at my best to date, and more improvements still to come,” Frangos said.