by Terry Matthews-Lombardo
The sport of bouldering – a form of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses – has problems, and most are usually less than 20 feet tall. You see in the vernacular of this sport, the word ‘problem’ (like a math problem) refers specifically to the path that a climber takes in order to complete the climb.
- The number of successfully completed problems (Tops)
- The total number of holds controlled (1.0 point/hold)
- The total number of ‘flashed problems’
- The total number of attempts to tops, and
- The total number of attempts to ‘highpoint’
So what does this fascinating bit of education have to do with the convention industry? Well, just ask Jamie Patrick, Director of Sports Sales and Program Development for the Madison Area Sports Commission, and he’ll enthusiastically explain: “It was recently announced that the 2015 American Bouldering Series (ABS) National Championships was awarded to Madison, WI, and this is a really exciting event for our area and partners to be able to host. It will bring the best bouldering climbers in the nation to our region next year for two days of competition among elite climbers and three days of youth competition among the young up-and-comers in the sport. With as many as 1,000 competitors and 2,000 or more participants, the event is expected to utilize close to 750 hotel rooms and will encompass more than two weeks of ingress, route setting, and egress.”
This is also a very family friendly event and the choice of Madison was made, in large part, due to the enthusiastic community of boulderers (the name given to participating athletes) found honing their sport at the nearby Boulders Gym, whose owner Brad Werntz, said was “honored to be selected as the 2015 Host Community representing the high caliber of boulderers found across the Midwest.” His facility will be the site for the competitor’s local warm up activities, but the main events will all be held at Monona Terrace, a distinctive and iconic community and convention center located on sparkling Lake Monona, that will provide the perfect setting for this unique competition.
Oh yes, and there’s one more ‘little’ item that is critical to this event, and that’s the necessity to move into place a manufactured climbing wall that is 20 feet high, 1,200 sq. ft., and 20,000 lbs. And for the 2015 Championships, this wall will have to travel from its’ current location in Boulder, CO, which is home base for USA Climbing, all the way to Madison, WI. (Yes, mainstream meeting planners, and you think you have challenges getting all the bells and whistles in place for your events?) Artificial climbing walls allow the boulderers to train indoors in areas without natural boulders; and most competitions take place in both indoor and outdoor settings in order to employ a variety of formats. So how is USA Climbing actually moving this wall into place? If you guessed “very carefully with lots of people and transporters on the support team” you would be correct. And the man in charge of coordination of the transportation and assembly is Kynan.
Apparently, like meeting planners all over the globe faced with enormous challenges and obstacles, moving a ten ton boulder is considered all in a day’s work for Kynan and his team!