Young Climbers on Keeping Competitive During COVID-19 | Outside Features | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Young Climbers on Keeping Competitive During COVID-19 

Local junior champions talk about how they're adapting to climbing during a pandemic, and what they've learned from the prolonged pause of normal life

Mira Capicchioni (15), Moxie Hovorka (14), and Shae McCarl (12) are three junior competitive and outdoor climbers from Bend who train at the Bend Rock Gym through the Bend Endurance Academy. Since the BRG is currently closed because of COVID, I was curious as to how else COVID has been impacting their training. Here's what they said.

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Source Weekly: How did you get into climbing? How old were you and did anyone inspire you to start?

Mira Capicchioni: I got into climbing when I was eight or nine. I went on vacation and met this other climber who said I should look into climbing, and he told me about how he had a team in Bend, so I decided to check it out. I've been on BEA ever since.

Moxie Hovorka: When I was about nine, I was into skiing and I broke my arm, which ended my ski season. My mom had to sign me up for something else so I could stay active, and she decided to sign me up for climbing with BEA.

Shae McCarl: That was kind of the same with me. I did soccer and wanted to do something else, so my mom signed me up for climbing. I was on the younger team and I looked up to the competitive climbing team. They inspired me.

click to enlarge Mira Capicchioni has been climbing since she was 8. - SUBMITTED
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  • Mira Capicchioni has been climbing since she was 8.

SW: What kind of competitions do you compete in?

MH: We all compete in both, but we usually prefer one or the other. I like sport competitions, where you have a rope while you climb 45 feet, and you get one attempt and they judge you by how far you get.

MC: I like bouldering competitions—climbing without a rope. Sixteen-foot boulders, you get four minutes to climb.

SM: I like bouldering, too.

SW: Do you get to choose which competitions you want to take part in?

MC: Team competitions are set through USA Climbing. You get bumped up every time you qualify for something—you start local, then you go to regionals, divisionals, nationals and world. Those are all the ones that we try to compete in with our team, but there are other competitions, not through USA Climbing, that you do on your own and win prizes; they're more for fun.

MH: We get to ultimately decide which competitions we want to do, but if we decide not to do regionals we can't qualify for the others.

MC: Usually we decide to do regionals because it's what our whole team trains for.

click to enlarge A broken arm led Moxie Hovorka to climbing. - SUBMITTED
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  • A broken arm led Moxie Hovorka to climbing.

SW: Where do you feel the most comfortable climbing, if COVID hadn't happened?

MC: Probably still outside; it's just the most relaxed and it's at your own pace.

MH: Everybody is so nice and helpful and not judgmental at all. You set your own goals and they help you work towards them.

SM: For me, the most comfortable is inside, in the gym.

SW: What has not being able to compete been like for you?

MH: It's been weird, definitely. I enjoy competing and the social aspect of it, but I've been learning to love outdoor climbing and to be less scared of it. It's been good for me.

MC: It's been rounding us out. We can do more types of climbing, and we're less focused and nervous.

SW: How have you been keeping competitive? 

MH: Our program is focusing on outdoor right now because we don't know when comps are going to happen. We're still training hard.

MC: We can do some workouts but it's different now. We're more focused on just climbing hard outside.

click to enlarge Shae McCarl was inspired by older climbers. - SUBMITTED
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  • Shae McCarl was inspired by older climbers.

SW: How much do you train?

MH: Before COVID, we used to just do three hours of really intense workouts three or four times a week.

MC: Now we do three times a week for seven or eight hours.

SW: Do you have any bits of wisdom to share with new climbers?

MC: Jump right in, don't be afraid to join the climbing community, they're really inclusive.

MH: — And supportive.

MC: — And they love new people. 

MH: Have fun with it. Don't take it too seriously, just do it for fun and for all the right reasons.

—Ella Gann is an intern at the Source Weekly.

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