# UKC

## / NEWS: The Olympics explained

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There has been a lot of confusion regarding how to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Luckily, Jorg Verhoeven is there to explain it all.

It looks like it will be a weaker field and a less interesting competition format than a normal IFSC boulder or lead world cup.

Quite. The lead route, for example, will presumably have to be ridiculously easy by normal standards if they have to do it 15 minutes after doing a full bouldering comp.

Why are they not having each discipline on a different day?

Why are they including speed climbing?

Eugh, what a mess.

Huh. Intuitively, I'd have thought that the "three ranks multiplied" thing would give a big advantage to sport / bouldering specialists, since they're presumably going to do pretty well in two formats, which, in a small field, would make up for sucking entirely at the third. It also (as I see it) encourages them to basically ignore speed and focus on sport and bouldering since (eg) 1 x 3 x 20 is better than 3 x 3 x 10. Which would make the inclusion of speed climbing in the triple format seem even more pointless.

Unless any game theorists / sports stats nerds want to correct me?

> Huh. Intuitively, I'd have thought that the "three ranks multiplied" thing would give a big advantage to sport / bouldering specialists.

I think your intuition is wrong. It will reward consistency across the disciplines, because the arithmetic mean of a set of numbers is always greater than or equal to the geometric mean, with equality when the numbers are equal, which means that for a given sum of 3 numbers the maximum product is found by making all three numbers equal.  For example, 1, 10, 19 loses to 10, 10, 10 despite having the same sum.

What a mess - who designed that?

I already know of 2 top climbers who have decided not to bother going because of the format

Sure yes, but try a more plausible combination of scores. A top bouldering specialist might quite plausibly get say, 1st in bouldering and 6th in sport, but completely ignore speed and get 20th = 120 points. If the field is 50% speed specialists, and if the person who is best at speed still can't beat any of the specialist bouldering / sport climbers at those disciplines then the literal best they can do - even if they beat all the other speed specialists in all three disciplines, which would be quite a feat in itself - is 11th, 11th and 1st = 121 points.

I dunno, maybe I'm misjudging how much sport and bouldering performance go hand in hand relative to speed, but I'd be surprised to see many people who currently specialize in speed climbing do well without quite a significant shift in focus.

I think that you mean they have decided not to try and qualify for 2020.

> Quite. The lead route, for example, will presumably have to be ridiculously easy by normal standards if they have to do it 15 minutes after doing a full bouldering comp.

At least the speed climbing will give a nice warm up.

The score would be 1 x 10 x 19 = 190 or 10 x 10 x 10 = 1000 - clear difference and winner!

The IOC also only offered them one medal for climbing as it is the first year and a "demo" event so it was choose one discipline (with the IOC preferring speed!) or go for all disciplines combined..... The hope is it will prove popular and so get increased to 2 or 3 disciplines in future years.

True - but at least one of them would definitely have qualified if she wanted to

Oh yes, good point, I missed that - Robert's post is assuming that you want to maximize your score, in which case consistency is good, whereas here presumably the goal is to minimize it, in which case specialization is good, which actually agrees with my point...

Please note that you wont get pure speed specialists taking part in Tokyo as they wont have qualified; the qualification is based on combined rankings, so if you arent competent at least at all 3 then you wont be going.......

> Oh yes, good point, I missed that - Robert's post is assuming that you want to maximize your score, in which case consistency is good, whereas here presumably the goal is to minimize it, in which case specialization is good, which actually agrees with my point...

Ah right, I interpreted it as getting 20 points for 1st place, 19 points for 2nd place and so on, which, as I said, favours consistency across the disciplines.  But yes, if you just multiply the places, specialisation is favoured. The article just says "rank" - I'm not really sure which this means!

Confusing, but I think I get it now.

Whoever wins is going to have to be an awesome climber, at and least a daft format is a daft format for everyone.

With the qualification criteria listed in the article and the qualification event being run in the new olympic format for timings, I think it would be hard to say who will 'definitely' qualify.

I can't believe that despite a multitude of governing bodies, a world cup circuit that's existed for a while etc.. they managed to come up with an Olympic competition and a qualifying system that in no way shape or form represents how the sport is carried out as either a hobby, profession, or in any other competition.

I bet athletes in the decathlon etc.. Don't have to do their qualifying events with a 15min interval.

Sad to say, I think it's making either or both the climbing representatives and the ioc look pretty incompetent.

Maybe, but it's academic as she's decided not to try specifically because of the format

I wonder how many other top climbers have decided not to try to qualify

Post edited at 16:03

> Ah right, I interpreted it as getting 20 points for 1st place, 19 points for 2nd place and so on, which, as I said, favours consistency across the disciplines.  But yes, if you just multiply the places, specialisation is favoured. The article just says "rank" - I'm not really sure which this means!

Actually, your version would make more sense.

It'll still be interesting to see how it plays out and who it works out best for, though.

Post edited at 16:04

> I bet athletes in the decathlon etc.. Don't have to do their qualifying events with a 15min interval.

And neither will the climbers; at least almost certainly not. It does look a bit odd anyway, but it says between "15 and 120 mins". I take this as meaning it is possible that if you are drawn last in the bouldering and first in lead, then you will only have 15 mins rest, which would be less than ideal, but an unlikely scenario.

As it stands in lead comps, if you have technical incident (spinning hold for eg......), then you are allowed 20 mins before reattempting the route, so I dont see how the 15 mins gap would work, but Jorgs guide is a bit sketchy, and I think we would need to see the detailed running order before passing too many comments.

> With the qualification criteria listed in the article and the qualification event being run in the new olympic format for timings, I think it would be hard to say who will 'definitely' qualify.

A half decent non-specialist climber from a continent and country with hardly any climbers would have the highest chance of qualifying.

I can understand why speed has been included as it is much better suited to entertaining non-climbers (who will be the vast majority of the audience).

With it being, effectively a race between two people you have immediate excitement and a clear winner in each 'race'. I can see this being more appealing to non climbing spectators than a bouldering comp.

We, being climbers, can appreciate the impressiveness of the moves pulled off in bouldering comps, but to a non-climber some of this will be lost and the scoring system (tops/zones/attempts etc.) is hard enough for us to understand, let alone someone with no knowledge of the sport.

Getting the balance of difficulty right in the bouldering comps will also be tricky, and I think will be crucial to the sports continuation in future Olympics. Few people enjoy watching a competition where there are barely any tops, but make it too easy and there is nothing to separate the field.

Speed is simpler and therefore more appealing to the average spectator.

Lead is somewhere in between, with a clear gauge of how well each competitor did (i.e. their height) but without the 'excitement' of the 'race'.

Post edited at 16:20

Better to have a fixed interval, where nothing happens for an hour or two. So that's the minimum rest anyone has. Then you have reverse order hunting starts like in alpine or Nordic skiing, the winner of round 1 is last to start in the next, that way you maintain the suspense of who may win right to the very end.

I'd agree - its not as if there will be time pressure with only 20 competitors if the full day is allowed. Anyway, the IFSC have run various trial comps with various formats, and will no doubt continue to do so to refine the event before 2020, so I think maybe we are jumping to conclusions based on scenarios that may well not come about. A bit like Brexit / BMC org review etc etc.

That’s the case for most Olympic events though I guess.

> With it being, effectively a race between two people you have immediate excitement and a clear winner in each 'race'. I can see this being more appealing to non climbing spectators than a bouldering comp.

> We, being climbers, can appreciate the impressiveness of the moves pulled off in bouldering comps, but to a non-climber some of this will be lost and the scoring system (tops/zones/attempts etc.) is hard enough for us to understand, let alone someone with no knowledge of the sport.

I don't entirely agree with this, to be honest. Plenty of people enjoy watching gymnastics, for instance, who wouldn't know a roundoff from a layout. Similarly, maybe I'm overestimating the intelligence of the general public but I would have thought it was pretty obvious what's impressive about someone hanging by one arm from a round blob, sticking their foot up by their ear and then standing up on it, particularly when you've seen a series of other people try the same thing and fall off.

Post edited at 16:57

Is it too late to get a South African or Cameroon passport see http://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/about-ifsc/ifsc-structure/members-federations for list of African members

Have you looked at the women's combined rankings lately? Three speed climbers in the top ten.

I know it's not the same as the Olympic format, and additive rather than multiplicative scoring. And boulderers & lead climbers have mostly only just begun to dabble in speed. But nevertheless.

Post edited at 19:15

There are quite a few all rounders now - Anouck Joubert, current speed world cup winner is an ex French national boulderer (i.e. pretty good.....) . Sean McColl is a bit speedy and quite useful at both lead and boulder, and Jan Hojer has been taking part in all 3 disciplines of late.....other examples available, of course.

> I think it would be hard to say who will 'definitely' qualify.

I will eat my chalkbag if Janja doesn't.

Post edited at 19:27

Perhaps we are jumping the gun. I think lead wall only would have been good enough for the sport in general, competitors and spectators. Speed climbing just makes me think of gladiators..  all you need is rhino or jet racing up behind, though I think they'd struggle at the grade.

A few years ago the IFSC asked its member federations which discipline they would like in the olympics. We chose lead; between the federations, the majority (but not a massive majority) was for lead, so thats what the IFSC went with to the IOC, who basically told the IFSC its going to include speed in whatever combination with another event, so combined it became.......

If jet or raven are competing, speed is ok with me

The product of design by committee, trying to appease everyone, and achieving nothing but alienating the people whom support it.

> If jet or raven are competing, speed is ok with me

They've probably aged a bit by now.

Ioc, there was me thinking the Olympics was people competing in sports that already fully existed, not just creating something audiences might like, to then sell stadium tickets and rent out retail outlets at premium prices.

> They've probably aged a bit by now.

So have we

> Ioc, there was me thinking the Olympics was people competing in sports that already fully existed, not just creating something audiences might like, to then sell stadium tickets and rent out retail outlets at premium prices.

All 3 events exist already; give it a chance this time round; maybe there will be improvements if climbing gets to retain its place in 2024 and beyond.....

>  I think lead wall only would have been good enough for the sport in general, competitors and spectators.

Yes, I think that the spectator appeal claim about speed climbing might be insulting the public's intelligence. The idea in lead climbing that you ahave to get higher than everyone else really is easy enough to understand. There are numerous other exciting olympic sports where the competitors take their turns one after the other.

> All 3 events exist already; give it a chance this time round; maybe there will be improvements if climbing gets to retain its place in 2024 and beyond.....

Still feels like the IOC want a red bull style event.

> Still feels like the IOC want a red bull style event.

But  got a bull-shit style of event instead.

> But  got a bull-shit style of event instead.

I do wonder how much pressure coca cola exerts... just coincidence I'm sure.

What next, all holds shaped like burgers, or letter Ms.

I'd have (maybe naively) hoped that the inclusion of a sport in the Olympics wouldn't need tweaking for entertainment value but woud be there as-is on the virtues of it as a sport. It's all a bit too American or F1 for my liking. We don't play with the rules of athletics for entertainment value, do we?

Rules in most olympic sports are continuously tweaked for "entertainment" purposes, which roughly equates to supposedly becoming more TV friendly.

Just off the top of my head, this includes e.g. table tennis (shorter sets), volleyball (scoring against the serve), wrestling (too many changes to list), judo (grip rules, passivity penalties, scoring, shorter bouts), boxing (no more head gear), ....

CB

Those I wasn't aware of, being someone who mostly doesn't follow sports beyond ice hockey. It always bemuses me when a game survives with the rules unchanged for decades - centuries even - only to fall victim to 21st century tampering.

> I'd have (maybe naively) hoped that the inclusion of a sport in the Olympics wouldn't need tweaking for entertainment value but woud be there as-is on the virtues of it as a sport. It's all a bit too American or F1 for my liking.

Tweaking something to give it the entertainment value of F1?  Hmm.

Tweaking something to increase its appeal or entertainment value, like what F1 seems to do every season.

As an aside I watched the grand prix on Sunday for the first time in about a decade. Really very dull, I just don't see the appeal anymore.

I'm betting that speed will have immediate gee-whizz-wow appeal to the non climber . . . and then after 10 mins they'll be bored by it.

Isn't the F1 tweaking designed to reduce the number of accidents, so removing the reason that most people used to watch it...