Psicobloc contest returns this week
August 2, 2016
As if free-form solo climbing up a 50-foot wall wasn't hard enough, last year's competitors at the Psicobloc Master Series competition at the Utah Olympic Park had to battle thunderstorms and heavy rain.
Athletes struggled to defeat not only their competitors in a race to the top of the wall positioned over the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool, but also to hold on as the rain and winds made every move more difficult.
This year, event organizers are hoping for clearer skies for the competition, which will be held Aug. 3-5. However, thunderstorms are again in the forecast for Friday evening, which could lead to another delay like the one experienced during the men's finals in 2015.
But, the threat of rain aside, UOP Marketing Manager Melanie Welch said the park's staff is getting ready for this week's event.
"They're actually just finishing building the wall [Monday]," she said. "They've been working on it over the weekend and putting the panels on. They'll start laying the routes pretty soon."
A slew of professional climbers from around the world earned invitations to the event to compete in Thursday's seeding contest and Friday's finals, but other climbers will have an opportunity to earn a spot in Thursday's competition by participating in Wednesday's qualifying round.
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"Quite a few athletes come and attempt the qualifiers," Welch said.
The qualifying rounds go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, with Thursday's seeding climbs starting at 7 p.m. Friday's finals begin at 7:30 p.m. The doors open at 6 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday.
Welch said the park is expecting big crowds for the two evening competitions.
"We're really excited for this year's competition," she said. "It continues to grow from year to year. We anticipate nice crowds coming out for the seeding Thursday and finals Friday. Last year, we had an estimated crowd of 5,500 between the two nights. We anticipate similar numbers this week."
As part of the overall experience for guests this year, a large video screen will be set up, Welch said.
"The screen will really help the spectators understand the competition better and learn more about the athletes," she said. "For someone who's not necessarily familiar with climbing, this will aid the spectating aspect of the sport. We'll also have an emcee and music, which will be entertaining."
While the event crew is resetting the obstacles between the men's and women's competitions, Welch said entertainment will be provided.
"After the women climbers finish, there's a little break between and they do a halftime show," she said. "We have a slackline athlete who will be doing a demonstration over the pool this year."
Just outside the pool area, Welch said a Vendor Village will be in full swing, with food and drinks offered to guests. According to an event press release, vendors include Mountain Hardwear, Clif Bar, Arctic Spas Utah, Mad Rock, Discrete, Adidas, Prana, ClimbTech, Five Ten, Hippy Tree, Walltopia, and Uinta Brewing. The Vendor Village opens to the public at 5 p.m. and admission is free.
Though the competition usually draws spectators who are in town for the Outdoor Retailer show, Welch said the local presence was more noticeable last year and she expects that to continue this year as the quality of the event grows.
"We've got some good climbers and we're expecting a great turnout," she said.
General admission tickets for Thursday's event cost $15 for adults and $10 for youths ages 6 to 12. Kids ages 5 and under can enter for free. Friday's general admission tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for youth. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.utaholympiclegacy.org.
For more information on the Psicobloc competition or the athletes expected to compete, visit http://www.psicocomp.com.
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