Story 1: IFSC apologises to climbing community

Unless you’ve been hiding away somewhere, blissfully unaware of recent events (and if so, I’m jealous), you may have witnessed the storm of controversy billowing around the first competition of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Bouldering World Cup.

On April 5th–shortly before the event held in Meiringen, Switzerland–the IFSC announced it would be partnering with FloClimbing (a new climbing-centric division of FloSports) on a 3-year contract to live-stream the World Cup competitions. The only catch: it would cost viewers money. Quite a bit of money.

Like all other subsidiaries under FloSports (i.e. FloTennis, FloSwimming, etc.), FloClimbing operates on a monthly subscription-based model. For $20 per month or $150 per year, a viewer could watch all the IFSC comps and access other exclusive content only available through FloClimbing. Other monthly streaming services, such as Netflix and NFL League Pass ($8/month and $99/year, respectively), are much cheaper and offer a vastly superior library of content.

Soon after announcing the deal, the IFSC was bombarded with negative criticism from the climbing world. Australian climber Peter Crane started a petition challenging the subscription fees. Crane, a video production and live-streaming professional, explains his stance on the matter in an opinion piece written for UK Climbing. “I’d never heard of FloSports,” he writes, “and after all the talk about the Olympics expanding climbing’s reach, it felt like this was a big step backwards.” As of right now, Crane’s petition has collected over 12,100 signatures.

From event sponsors to professional athletes to average-climber-Joes on Facebook, the community resisted. The following photo, showing almost all of the World Cup athletes holding up red cards in protest, began to circulate:

Soon thereafter, the IFSC caved into the pressure and offered to stream the event for free on YouTube. But one question remained unanswered: Would the following competitions of the World Cup season also be free, or locked behind a paywall?

Finally, this morning, the IFSC responded with this official statement:

“It was made a mistake and we apologize for that.

The live streaming for IFSC will remain free of charge, the same as it was at the 1st World Cup in Meiringen, Switzerland and in previous years.

The deal – despite having been announced – has not been signed and thus has not been concluded.

Any possible future variation of this policy will be discussed inside the IFSC and subject to the approval of our key stakeholders.

Let’s keep climbing together.”

But another question remains on many climbers’ minds:

Why do the deal in the first place?

In his brilliantly researched essay titled “Breaking It Down: The IFSC Paywall Fiasco,” author Liam Lonsdale explores the reasoning behind the decision. Citing an “anonymous source,” Lonsdale attributes the IFSC’s actions to “financial difficulties.” I highly recommend reading Lonsdale’s article in its entirety for more details behind the controversy.

On April 9th, Crane posted an update written on his petition page. The article includes a bullet point list of the IFSC’s decision-making process and data that Crane and others gathered directly from the IFSC itself.

Among other discouraging facts, he finds “no evidence of consultation with the community, athletes, or IFSC partners,” confirms that “FloSports was awarded the contract because they were first to approach IFSC,” and points out FloSport’s 96% negative review rate on the Better Business Bureau website. “With climbing en route to the Olympics,” Crane writes, “we feel the federation needs a stronger, more qualified leadership team than ever.”

To tell us what you think about this IFSC ordeal, take this one question community poll.

Story 2: Coxsey & Fujii take gold in Meiringen amidst controversy

Amidst all the controversy, it was easy to forget that an exciting competition featuring some of the world’s best rock climbers took place. So, while we await answers from the IFSC regarding the future of the World Cup, check out the comp highlights below!

Women’s results:

See the full list of women’s results here.

Men’s results:

  • 1st: Kokoro Fujii
  • 2nd: Aleksei Rubtsov
  • 3rd: Keita Watabe

See the full list of men’s results here.

Story 3: Anna Stöhr Sends V13 and V14 in a Day

On April 2nd, Austrian climber Anna Stöhr climbed both Steppenwolf (V13/8B) and New Base Line (V14/8B+) in Magic Wood, Switzerland. After working the moves on both problems for just a few hours, Stöhr returned the next day to claim both ascents.

In a blog post written for Mammut, Stöhr recounts her process of climbing the two boulders. Regarding New Base Line, she writes:

I stuck the first move and without knowing, I was, yet again, in my zone. The place you can’t reach with sheer will, but where you still occasionally find yourself. It almost felt effortless.

Check out Stöhr climbing fellow Austrian Klem Loskot’s Wrestling With An Alligator (V13/8B) below:

yihaaaaaa – today i climbed klem loskot's classic 'wrestling with an alligator' 8b in maltatal 🙂

Posted by Anna Stöhr on Monday, March 28, 2016

Story 4: Jonathan Siegrist Climbs Pachamama (5.15a)

Jonathan Siegrist has completed his longtime project Pachamama (5.15a/9a+ FA Chris Sharma) in Oliana, Spain. It took him over 35 days of effort, part of which he discussed in this Moja Gear interview in December of 2016.

The route was featured in the film Progression by BigUP Productions. Check out the clip of Sharma working the route below:

In a post titled “Process,” written on his website in January, Siegrist details his battle with Pachamama. “This is the longest period in my climbing—ever—that I have gone without accomplishing a goal,” he writes. With two and a half more months of periodic attempts under his belt since writing the post, patience and belief finally paid off.

I never quite knew if I had the strength to hold on for this long, through so much doubt and through so many utterly exhausting ups and downs. Now I know. I do.

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