Gord McArthur is digging a hole in his backyard; two, actually. It’s what needs to happen when building the proper training structure if he is going to compete with the Russians on their level. The SCARPA mixed climber had a great past season competing on the World Cup circuit, placing higher than any North American in over a decade. In doing so, he has seen his future. And his future is a 26-foot high arch that will take up most of his backyard. “That’s what it takes,” he says, of going against the hammer and sickle hardmen of northern Asia. We got him to put down the shovel for a moment and give us his take on training at the highest levels, and preparing for a little known comp called the Olympics.
Can you tell us why the Russians are so formidable on the World Cup? The Russians dominate the sport of competitive mixed climbing because they train so well. And by that I mean, they have World Cup structures to train on, year round, and they have a team, amongst themselves, to train with. Having a solid training team/partner(s) is the key to success. You can’t push yourself to your ultimate level unless you have someone there, pushing you, motivating you, correcting you, or suggesting various things to you. They’re smart, really smart, and they know how to train to win.
How did you do this last year on the circuit? What’s it like climbing competitively in Europe and Asia? This year I did really well on the circuit. At the world championships in Kirov, Russia, I had my best result to date. No North American in the last 12 years has made it into the Top 20. Because the sport is so dominated by Russians, it’s tough to gain a spot past the qualifying round. But in Russia I managed to climb super well and landed 15th overall, which was huge.
Competing overseas is tough. North Americans are at a huge disadvantage because of the amount of travel it takes, money, adjusting to new cultures, food, people, languages—it’s not an easy road. But, all that being said, it’s un-freakin’-believable. The opportunity to see the world whilst doing what you love? Why wouldn’t you do it?
You’re building your own training facility in your backyard. Can you describe it to us, and why is it important to making the podium in the World Cup next year? If you want to do well on the World Cup, you need to be super specific in how you train. A lot of the Europeans and Asian representatives have World Cup “structures” to train on, which gives them a huge edge. So, I figured why not build my own? And now, the first North American World Cup structure is going to be in my backyard. It’s the only way forward.
Next season is going to be a huge season, packed with events and, oh, did I mention the Olympics? Yeah, so mixed climbing is going to be a demonstration sport next year. It’s important for me to be at the top of my game going into the coming season—to do well, really well.