Canmore climber Becca Frangos talks bouldering nationals, the Olympics and twin sister power
2020 Olympics includes a combined climbing category
Recently, it was announced that climbing would be part of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Three climbing disciplines would be combined into one event. Not perfect by any stretch, but it is a step in the right direction. One of the most exciting young climbers in the country is Canmore, Alberta native Becca Frangos, who was ranked 25th in the combined world ranking in 2018, three-time youth national champion and was open lead national champion in 2015.
Open Bouldering Nationals are coming up in Calgary soon, what’s the game plan?
I am really looking forward to the event. With any competition I attend I always try to focus on climbing for myself and being confident throughout the event, if I am able to do those things I know the results will come with that.
Tell me about your feelings towards climbing being included in the Olympic Games
Yes, climbing is included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! On one hand I think the inclusion of climbing in the Olympics is great for the growth of our sport and as well opens opportunities for funding and sponsorship many athletes may not have had access to without its inclusion. However, I do feel like it’s a bit of a shame to change the format of the sport itself just to fit the Olympic model (combining all three disciplines). While I do think combined is a really interesting aspect of competing, it would have been great to have individual medals for each discipline and a combined event alongside. Hopefully this is something that can be worked towards for future games.
You are a national team competitor; do you feel like you can make it for 2020 is that the goal? Or 2024?
For 2020 there are only 20 female spots for the Olympics and for myself to qualify it is either though the World Championships (top six), Olympic selection event in France (top six) or through our continental championships (top spot). Considering this, it is obviously very difficult to make the team but I am going to keep training hard with a focus on preparing for the continental selection event March 2020 because that event is the one where I will have the best shot at making the team. The 2024 games are most definitely a goal of mine considering it has been proposed to split speed from Bouldering and Lead this suits my strengths as a competitor much better.
What would it mean to you to get a chance to compete at an Olympic Games?
Growing up in Canmore, Alberta mountain sports have shaped my life since the time I was able to walk and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by and mentored by numerous Olympic athletes in the Bow Valley. Since I was a kid I’ve dreamed of competing at the Olympics so it would be a dream come true to have that become a reality.
You recently competed in some World Cup competitions, tell me about the experience.
Last World Cup season I had the opportunity to compete on the entire Lead World Cup circuit (seven events), compete in a few bouldering and speed events as well compete at the World Championships for all three disciplines. In previous seasons I had only attended a few events so being able to compete at more events was a great opportunity for me to gain more experience on the international circuit and identify areas of my performance, both mentally and physically that can be improved.
What was the highlight for you?
The highlight for me was getting to spend time in Innsbruck, Austria between events training with members of the Austrian team as well as many other friends from different teams who were also competing on the World Cup circuit. Innsbruck has what most would call the best training facility in the world for competition climbing so it was perfect to spend about a month there.
And what are you hoping to do better next World Cup season?
This season I’ve been really focusing on the mental aspect of my performance. Last world cup season I felt like physically I was very prepared but often times I wasn’t able to show my best performance because I didn’t believe in myself and wasn’t confident in my abilities. Mental game has always been a challenge for me but I felt like recently I’ve made some great progress and will apply that to the upcoming national events and the World Cup circuit this year.
Who are your climbing mentors?
I have so many! The ones that stand out the most though are those that have helped shape me into the climber I am today, through the years of coaching me as a youth competitor or just offering helpful words of advice when we would climb together. Vikki and Stacey Weldon and Sonnie Trotter are just a few of those mentors for me.
What piqued your interest in climbing originally?
My parents signed my sister and I up for a summer climbing camp back in 2008 in our hometown of Canmore, and we both fell in love with it right away. Although at first I was quite uncoordinated and was most definitely not a “natural” climber, I became instantly hooked by the strength, agility, endurance and mental focus it requires to succeed.
You grew up climbing with your twin sister, tell me about the bond you shared over climbing.
Yes, Sara and I have always had a really close relationship so it’s been really special to share a passion for the same sport. Throughout our teenage years we both competed together and were always very close in ability so we both pushed each other to become better. I most definitely wouldn’t be the climber I am today without her!
But she has not followed the same competitive route. Is it tough to compete and push yourself without her at your side?
We’ve been on different climbing paths for about three years now, with Sara’s focus being more on outdoor projects so I’m quite used to it at this point but I still of course miss having her around at competitions. That being said, I have a great group of training partners and coaches around me where I live in Victoria and a whole lot of internal drive to work towards my goals so I wouldn’t say motivation is an issue!
What are your top strengths as a competitive climber?
I’d say my top strength in competition is identifying what works for my strengths and executing a climb based on what I know will work best for me. I am on the shorter end of competitive climbers as I am only 5-ft tall, so I often need to find my own distinct way to solve a boulder that is completely different than all the other competitors.
Which other climbers do you most admire and why?
I admire anyone that has passion for the sport and is willing to share that with those around them. Giving back to the community and the younger generation of athletes is something very important to me because I know I wouldn’t be where I am today as an athlete or person without people in the community who mentored me and pushed me towards my goals.
Tell me about your climbing life outside the bouldering gym.
When I am not training or competing I love to push myself on hard sport routes outside mainly in the areas near Canmore like Acephale but also at Horne Lake on Vancouver Island. I am also a full time University student at the University of Victoria where I am in my third year of studying a combined science degree in Biology and Psychology.
Where are a few of your favorite places to climb?
A few of my favorites for sport climbing are Rodellar, Spain and Kalymnos, Greece but it’s hard to choose, there are so many amazing areas!
Tell me about the climbing community. Is it as supportive as it seems?
The climbing community is incredible! I think it’s a bit ingrained in the nature of the sport competition wise because we all share beta and discuss what methods we all think is best to complete a boulder or route. I’ve never felt so supported in any other sport I’ve participated in, everyone including your competitors, genuinely wants you to succeed and that is something really unique.
What are your goals for this year?
My main goals are to make a semi-final round in both the Bouldering and Lead World Cups, run a sub-11 second speed time and to qualify to compete at the Olympic qualification events in France in fall 2019 and the continental championships held in Los Angeles in March of 2020. I would also love to climb some 5.14s on rock!