USA Climbing sport event comes to Eagle
The Eagle Talons local climbing team hosted a USA Climbing sport competition over the weekend, a milestone event for the new gym in Eagle.
With the bouldering season now over, the local team has turned its attention to sport climbing, using ropes. Saturday’s sport climbing event was the first-ever USA Climbing sanctioned ropes climbing event to take place at Eagle Climbing + Fitness, which just opened in November of 2018.
Teams visited from as far as Salt Lake City to compete in the event, called the 2019 Sport & Speed Local.
Cody Abshear from Team Grand Valley Climbing in Grand Junction said the new gym has brought his team to the area several times in recent months.
“We came for a bouldering comp in the fall, and we came here a couple weeks ago just to train,” Abshear said. “To get more variety, also they have a regulation speed wall which we don’t have, and their routes are really good, so we really appreciate being able to come up here and train and enjoy this gym.”
Abshear has been attending USA Climbing events for the last five years, and said he has witnessed tremendous growth in the sport. He said with the number of gyms that have popped up on the Front Range in recent years, and the fact that a 10,500-square-foot climbing gym now exists in Eagle, speaks to the popularity of the sport. He also said the fact that Eagle was attracting teams from the Front Range on Saturday was a testament to the fact that it has already become a popular venue.
“It’s honestly pretty amazing they’re pulling from the Front Range with all the gyms that they have over there,” Abshear said on Saturday.
The Eagle Talons team is led by coach Larry Moore, who also manages Eagle Climbing + Fitness.
Moore said the team has benefited considerably from the new space.
Local youth climbers Benjamin Dantas and Ethan Pitcher made it to their respective national competitions — Dantas competed at the USA Climbing youth bouldering national championships while Pitcher competed at the Canadian youth national championships.
Pitcher’s parents were born in Nova Scotia and moved to Eagle County in 2004. Pitcher, who is now a senior at Red Canyon High School, started competing on Moore’s team when he was in fourth grade.
“Climbing has opened up a lot of opportunities for Ethan,” Pitcher’s mother, Kim Flynn, said on Sunday. “He’s traveled the country, it’s kept him on track in school and it’s given him a focus on what he wants to do in life.”
At the bouldering youth national championships, Pitcher’s focus was to get an invite to the open division, which is the national championships for all athletes, not just youth competitors. He did, and competed in adult nationals, as well.
“He got to go to two national championships in two months, which gave him some great experience,” Moore said.
Pitcher hopes to make the Canadian National Team in May and compete at the world championships. But first, he’ll have the Canadian speed nationals, also in May. In preparing for that event, Pitcher has been traveling the state hitting different 15-meter walls. He skipped the Eagle competition on Saturday to hit Earth Treks in Englewood, where he clocked a time of 7 seconds.
“That’s his new personal best,” Flynn said. “So he’s really doing well in all of the disciplines.”
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