UKC

IFSC World Cups: impressions and chatter

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 C Witter 16 Jul 2021

Although I wouldn't admit it to some of my climbing partners (too late, now, probably...!), I've been really enjoying the recent IFSC World Cups in Innsbruck, Villars and Chamonix. Even more special, my partner, who doesn't climb much, has also been enjoying watching the finals with me. The moves are really creative, the level of ability is impressive and the fight some competitors put in is inspiring.

I particularly enjoy watching Janja because she always comes on last and walks the routes these elite level climbers have been battling. Some of the other climbers exude quality in the way they climb, too, e.g. Stefano Ghisolfi or Natalia Grossman.

I do find the semi-finals harder to watch, though. There are a lot of competitors and the split screen for men and women at Chamonix was wearying. It was still better than the unwatchable 4-way split screen footage of the British Bouldering Cup, though.

There is some good footage of the climbers (especially compared to the amateurism of the BBC footage), but also some frustrating camera angles and poor cuts. That's not even to mention lost footage of two women who topped their routes. In addition, the whole event is cut in very odd ways, with Youtube uploads that have hours of deadspace in them.

There has also been some really poor footage. With the "bum footage" scandal still fresh, it astounded me that during the Chamonix women's finals they managed to show 20s of footage of a female competitor getting changed off-stage. I mean... it's not quite the same, but it just shows how amateur some of these people involved in the footage are.

A lot of comment has also focused on the commentary. I thought Molly Thompson and Hamish McArthur did an admirable job. Some of the other guest commentators have been... simply irritating. Matt Groom is normally pretty good, but, whilst a lot of people have complained about him explaining very obvious things (e.g. "you get more points the higher you climb"), I'm not entirely convinced he has a strong grasp on the more arcane rules - e.g. about countback and time - as these are not explained clearly.

I've also found the issue of stepping on bolts very dispiriting. In the Chamonix final, Laura Rogora put in a stunning lead that was clearly head and shoulders above the performances of the other competitors. I really worry for Laura for reasons I won't go into, but I also love to see her do well as her emotions are so obvious and it's hard not to be overtaken by her excitement and pleasure in topping a route. To have that performance brought into question by an appeal seemed very wrong. I can't believe someone would make such an ungenerous appeal. Looking back through the footage, though, you see that Laura goes into an extreme flag at one of the cruxes. Possibly her flagging foot touches a bolt; possibly not. It's impossible to tell from the IFSC footage. Either way, it is not a weighted foot. Trying to find information about this brought up footage of at least one other competitor in the Chamonix final who seems to have made actual - though, no doubt, entirely accidental - use of a bolt. 

The annoyance is that the IFSC should have resolved this issue, in one way or another. Otherwise, what is the point of them? Some bolts have "bolt blockers". If we accept these work, then why leave some bolts unblocked? If they don't, then another solution is needed!

Oh... and this isn't even to mention the "will they, won't they" palaver at Innsbruck where they reduced the number of boulders at the last minute (after two people had already climbed the fourth!).

Basically... even on brief acquaintance with competition climbing, I'm left with the strong feeling that  we're in a situation where competition climbing is gaining more attention than ever, and where the competitors are giving more and more of themselves to competing, and yet we have a completely amateur and inadequate organisation overseeing this.

Other thoughts and opinions welcome

p.s. Is this the right forum for discussing competitions? I don't see any other chatter about them. Maybe the UKC team might want to make this clearer before the Olympics

Post edited at 10:43
 Iamgregp 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Interesting that the footage has been poor in terms of angles and cuts (in addition to the clearly wrong 'bumgate' incident) as it's ORF, the IFSC host broadcaster has been working with them for at least 5 years or so, so you'd think they would know what they're doing by now...

Hold on to your hats for the Olympic Broadcast, it'll be the first time OBS have presented a live broadcast of climbing, and even if they hire the best and most experienced out there to help (er,... that would be OBS) there's every possibility the broadcast could be a bit frustrating for anyone who is a bit more than the casual observer. 

Post edited at 10:53
 JLS 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Matt Groom had a better Chamonix than his Innsbruck.  My guess is he reverted back to his own natural style rather than trying too hard to reach the "new audience".

Laura is a worry. I cling to the notion that if there was a problem the IFSC wouldn't allow her to compete but that may be an over simplistic view on the situation.

As far as the camera work is concerned. Well, it's a free show (on youtube). Increased professionalism will come with increased costs. I'm happy with free and less polished.

 C Witter 16 Jul 2021
In reply to JLS:

To be fair, there is some very good camera work. There's also just some sloppiness (perhaps coming with live streaming)... and then these glaring errors, such as broadcasting the changing room. Plus... I don't quite understand why vast moments of nothing are recorded and uploaded to Youtube...! Perhaps it's some sort of late modernist masterpiece I've failed to appreciate.

 JLS 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

"don't quite understand why vast moments of nothing are recorded and uploaded to Youtube..."

My guess is it just easier to organise one continuous live broadcast on youtube rather than stopping and restarting. Once you've got the live broadcast recorded, it's going to be additional work to go back and edit out the dead time.

 TomD89 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Obviously Janja is a beast and it's watching her breeze problems is a treat. I've also really enjoyed Oriane Bertone both competing and guest commentating at one point. Very enthusiastic, engaging and at times insightful for such a young climber even with English as a second language which can limit the quality of the commentary in some other cases.

I did find the bum footage laugh out loud funny when watching it, I get why some are annoyed though. I don't want climbing to become too professional if I'm honest, it should keep it's personality, silliness, weirdness and occasional bloopers. I think if it was too polished it'd detract rather than improve. I like the down to earthiness of it vs bigger more established sports that rarely keep my attention for long.

> I really worry for Laura for reasons I won't go into

It'd be more interesting if you did, I think I might know what you're getting at.

 Iamgregp 16 Jul 2021
In reply to JLS:

Exactly this - setting up Livestreams in Youtube is a bit fiddly. 

You have to enter all sorts of metadata, geoblocking data, access tokens etc etc...  Then test it all to make sure it's all working, confirm that it's coming up on the right channel, is blocked in the right territories (i.e. anywhere the IFSC has signed a deal with a broadcaster) so you generally set up one stream for the event before it starts, then leave it up for the duration.

This means that the whole stream gets archived, including the nothing but users can scrub through all the crap anyway, and they produce a 26 minute daily highlight show in any case...

 Holdtickler 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

Yeah I much prefer when there's just one climber at a time like they usually do for finals and occasionally for semis. Split screen is a massive compromise but does make me wonder if perseverance will give me independent eyeballs like a chameleon. 4-way split is a nightmare even on a large screen, even for a chameleon!  It must be hard for the commentators to know who to watch and report on at any moment and confusing when both commentators are watching different climbers. I think there's a lot of difference in the quality of the camerawork and editing from one comp to the next but overall things are improving a lot and they are getting much better a squeezing in action replays. The worst one is when you miss the action of one climber whilst watching another rest/chalk/untie. 

One thing I can't fathom though, What's the deal with comps and onscreen clocks? It's like a running joke that's been going on for years now

 Iamgregp 16 Jul 2021
In reply to TomD89:

> I did find the bum footage laugh out loud funny when watching it, I get why some are annoyed though. I don't want climbing to become too professional if I'm honest, it should keep it's personality, silliness, weirdness and occasional bloopers. I think if it was too polished it'd detract rather than improve. I like the down to earthiness of it vs bigger more established sports that rarely keep my attention for long.

I get your point, I don't think any of us want climbing to become too polished, but then I don't think we want to go down the road of titillating shots of competitors bodies.  Objectifying athletes bodies (male or female) is something that belongs in the bin of sports broadcasting of days gone by, and the ORF director should have known better.

 Qwerty2019 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

1000 x more important than any of the other comments you made.  It needs discussed.

I really worry for Laura for reasons I won't go into,

 JLS 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Qwerty2019:

I'm not sure it needs to be discussed by us but I do hope someone somewhere is looking out for her and any issues are being addressed.

In reply to Qwerty2019:

> 1000 x more important than any of the other comments you made.  It needs discussed.

If she's come out and said "I have this problem and I'd like to talk about it" then fair enough.  If she hasn't then I see no reason to mention her name in the context of the problem (whatever it is).

 Qwerty2019 16 Jul 2021
In reply to JLS:

And in reply to Tom as well

I absolutely disagree.  She is on international tv, at the top of her game being a success.  She is influencing 1000's of other wannabee Laura's.  What message is international climbing, Italian climbing and even this website sending out?  This website has a responsibility to highlight it in conjunction with all the other well meaning messages they have sent out on RedS etc.

If it was a footballer the whole world would be dissecting it to the nth degree.

Post edited at 13:27
 C Witter 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Qwerty2019:

Perhaps, but as well-meaning as people may be, I wouldn't want to start that discussion on an online forum that is searchable and published for all to see. I just don't think it would be fair or right. Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it.

 Qwerty2019 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

You were brave to mention it.  I have had at least 4 different parents come and discuss it with me over the last month or so.  It is on most adolescent climbers parents agenda.  

Last word on it.  

Post edited at 13:33
 C Witter 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Exactly this - setting up Livestreams in Youtube is a bit fiddly. 

> You have to enter all sorts of metadata, geoblocking data, access tokens etc etc...  Then test it all to make sure it's all working, confirm that it's coming up on the right channel, is blocked in the right territories (i.e. anywhere the IFSC has signed a deal with a broadcaster) so you generally set up one stream for the event before it starts, then leave it up for the duration.

> This means that the whole stream gets archived, including the nothing but users can scrub through all the crap anyway, and they produce a 26 minute daily highlight show in any case...


I see! This is interesting to know. Makes me feel bad for being so critical! I guess Youtube themselves are probably a pain for lots of smaller organisations to deal with.

 Iamgregp 16 Jul 2021
In reply to C Witter:

I don't think they're too bad if you know what you're doing, they accept a variety of hardware and software encoders and frame and bitrates etc... 

The only thing is is that you do really need to have someone who knows what they're doing and at a small production company (like at my last place) that might be limited to just a few engineers, and once the event is live, they're probably going to be too busy to be stopping and starting streams and checking everything etc....

The geo blocking I think is a bit of a pain - you have to select (or except) each country one by one, so if you've got multiple broadcast partners all round the world you'll have to select each to block one by one, then you'll want to test each one too as if you get this wrong and accidently stream it free to YouTube where a broadcaster has paid for the rights then you're gonna have a real problem!

Like I say though, once you know what you're doing it's not too hard - the guy who used to do this for us would occasionally live stream a Watford game for his Dad via YouTube and share the link with just him - you can set it so it's not searchable so he could always be sure there would be nobody other than his Dad watching it  

Post edited at 14:13
 xbraddersx 16 Jul 2021

I think the wider issue is important rather than speculating about an individual.

I was really pleased when she made the last move because she is so much shorter so the jump must have appeared massive! 

Post edited at 14:22
 Blanche DuBois 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Qwerty2019:

> It needs discussed.

No it doesn't.  For one thing (unless you and others have a medical background and experience in diagnosing people's maladies via TV screen) you don't know if there is anything to discuss.  If there is then I kind of think she and those close to her already know about it.  It's none of your business (or mine).  It looks to me like a bunch of (middle aged) blokes wanting to gossip about the appearance of a young woman, and don't think the "she's a role model" argument really holds water.  I might be wrong, and haven't bothered to check - but have there been similar discussions regards Peter Crouch or other unusually slim male "role models"?

Post edited at 14:46
 C Witter 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

Fair points. I think this discussion has already (rightly) ended because everyone involved came to the same conclusion as you. Best to leave it there now.

Post edited at 15:01
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

Well, being football ignorant I googled Peter crouch and quickly found a number of football website threads doing just that.


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