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Vanier climbs to bouldering hat trick

Canmore climber Alexa Vanier is headed to the national youth team selection camp in March after finishing in second at the Canadian Youth Bouldering Nationals

CANMORE – The third times a charm.

For Canmore’s Alexa Vanier, the first and second times at the Canadian Youth Bouldering Nationals were also successful, as she finished on the podium in 2018 and 2019.

This year, however, the 13-year-old climber was named to Climbing Canada’s National Youth Squad.

Vanier was also invited to the national youth team selection camp in March for the chance to be selected to climb at the 2020 World Youth Championships in Russia in August.

“I’m really happy to have qualified for the selections camp," Vanier said. "It was my goal at the beginning of the season, so to achieve my goal is really special.”

As part of the youth national team, Vanier will receive additional mentoring from the national team athletes, which she is looking forward to.

“The chance to climb with the best in the country is really cool. There will also be new route setters there, too, which I am looking forward to because it will give me a chance to see more routes and that can only help me.”

Over the long weekend, Vanier who competes in the youth female B division, climbed onto the second step of the podium, claiming the silver medal at the national championships held in North Vancouver, B.C.

“She was very consistent through the competition,” said Canmore Indoor Climbing Society coach, Chris Neve. “Her improved maturity and decision making helped to set her apart and made a different in managing her attempts. She has become a better ‘thinking climber’ this season.”

Heading into the national competition, Vanier had dominated the bouldering season, claiming first in two of the three local competitions and she flashed through the provincials and regional competitions to book a spot in North Vancouver.

After the qualification round, Vanier was sitting in the third position, and climbed into second following the semifinals.

In the finals, the first problem of four challenged the young climber. In the allotted four minutes per problem, she failed to climb the route, which involved a difficult hold she couldn’t grasp.

“That one was not my style at all,” she said with a laugh. “I had never seen holds like that before and no matter what I tried my foot would always slip out.”

She credits that opening disappointment with pushing her in the following problems.

“I just tried to forget about that problem – put it in the back of my mind and worked on the next problem.”

On the second and third problems she topped out on her second attempts, and on the final route she flashed it, only needing a single attempt.

“The last problem was my favourite route of the whole competition. Even though I wasn’t use to the holds, everything just flowed and it was really easy and fun.”

Completing that final problem in one attempt was the difference between a silver and bronze medal.

Also representing the CICS at the national championships was Louka Gay and Bryton Kapitza in the youth male B division. Although Kapitza is  Canmore resdnrt, he climbs out of calgary and finished 12th overall. The slow-and-steady climber, Gay,  was able to reach the semifinals, but was unable to crack the top six for a spot in the finals. He finished 16 in the nation.

“Speaking with Louka after the competition, he was a bit disappointed not to make the finals, but he improved on his second appearance at t nationals,” said Neve. “Louka might be on a bit slower of a progression but he is one of those climbers who I think will will be very tough to climb against in the next few years.”

In the youth female A division the pair of Canmore climbers Ruby Baty and RyAnne Advice came 31st.

Neve said the duo was disappointed with their performance at nationals but credits them for reaching the top competition in the country, which was the goal they each had set for themselves at the start of the season.


Evan Buhler

About the Author: Evan Buhler

Evan Buhler is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter who joined the Outlook in 2019. A native of Calgary, he previously worked in Salmon Arm, B.C.
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