Utah Olympic Park won’t host Psicobloc climbing competition this summer
The Utah Olympic Park announced Monday that it will not host the Psicobloc Masters deep water solo climbing competition this summer, though the organization did not rule out a future return.
The UOP had held Psicobloc for the previous five years. The event regularly drew some of the best American competitive rock climbers to Park City.
UOP spokesman Kole Nordmann said it is likely that the venue will host Psicobloc again once several ongoing construction projects are completed.
“It’s an event we love,” he said. “It’s an event we can see coming back next year or years following that. Just with the timing, of when the event is typically held and some of the construction projects going on right now, we just didn’t see it as a viable option for us to put on this year.”
The projects prompting the change include the installation of a shade structure for the facility’s Alpine slide, additions to its zip line courses, and construction for the first phase of its ski hill expansions.
“We wanted to make sure we had all the appropriate resources dedicated to (the projects) to ensure they get up and off the ground and get going for the summer season,” Nordmann said.
The shade structure will allow for a cooler ride down the venue’s 0.8-mile slide, while Nordmann said the park is installing equipment to make the zip line tours safer and more comfortable.
The ski hill expansion project includes realigning the road that services the park’s bobsled track. The expansion will extend the skiable terrain behind the Alf Engen Ski Museum to the top of the K120 ski jumping hill, and involves the installation of a lift. Nordmann said with those projects ongoing, hosting Psicobloc would have been a stretch for the venue.
“We strive to put on the best events possible, so we weren’t going to put ourselves in a situation where we diminished the event in any capacity,” he said. “We just want to make sure we protect that event and protect our activities we are bringing online for the summer.”
The event has been one of the best-paying climbing competitions in the U.S., with a purse of $5,000 each for the men’s and women’s winners. The event also has open qualification, allowing unknown climbers a shot at competing alongside the sport’s stars. Professional climber Jimmy Webb, who has won the event four consecutive times, called the announcement a “bummer” in a direct message to The Park Record via social media.
The wall tops out at 50 feet and overhangs the UOP’s aerials training pool. Climbers race to the top but always end up in the water either by jumping after topping out or falling along the way. The winners climb to the top several times on the road to victory.
“I’m gonna miss my yearly fix of being terrified,” Webb said.
He said he would likely replace the absence of the Psicobloc prize money this year by picking up more route-setting shifts at The Boulder Field, a gym owned by fellow pro climber and Psicobloc competitor Carlo Traversi in Sacramento, California.
“Once (the projects) are all tidied up and we’ve worked out the bugs, I see this as an event that will come back,” Nordmann said of Psicobloc. “It’s just a question of when will those schedules align.”
The UOP’s small hill expansion project is scheduled to be completed this winter.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.