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Skateboarding and rock climbing make their Olympic debut, Rapid City responds

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 7:26 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -Rock climbing has climbed its way to the top, and will make an Olympic debut August 3.

A sport that’s been around since the dawn of time, according to Laura Bellisle, the owner of Rapid City’s Black Hills Basecamp climbing gym.

“Humans have been climbing forever. Maybe not in the way that we’ve been climbing in the last 50 years. If there’s a mountain out there,” says Bellisle, “someone’s trying to climb it.”

There’s three disciplines where each climber will be put to the test and scored, but they’re all very different.

“It’s a little bit like asking a free swimmer who’s swimming a 200m race to also do diving and water polo just because they’re all done in a swimming pool,” says Bellisle.

The three take different endurances. Like lead climbing, where climbers may take several minutes to ascend to the top.

Or speed climbing, where climbers scurry to the finish line in seconds.

Bouldering is another one of the events that will be included during the Olympics. It’s a highly technical climb, where participants grasp small holds using few fingers, all while utilizing elements of flexibility and strength.

Rock climbing isn’t the only thing that’s new to the Olympics this year.

Skateboarding has also dropped in.

Derrick Unrein, the Director of Process Skateboard Ministry for Rapid City’s GMP Indoor Skatepark, is thrilled a the possibilities for inspiring the youth of the world.

“Skateboarding is -- it’s addictive. When you learn a trick, you just want to learn another trick, and you want to learn another one. There’s no ceiling. You can keep learning, and learning and learning. So, that’s what’s so exciting, you can push yourself to levels you never thought you could do. It’s really hard. It takes hundreds and thousands of tries to land one trick. And so, to see skateboarding make it to the level you’re seeing in the Olympics, these kids have started at such a young age, and now it just shows that if you put in the time and you can do some amazing things.”

Derrick has made a point to teach his kids how to skate.

“I was trying my kickflip for about 5 years,” says Derrick’s 13-year-old son, Kai. ”It took so much tries and it was just a lot of determination to land that. Skateboarding you can always get better. Even the pros in the Olympics, they can still learn stuff. There’s a freedom with skateboarding, there’s no rules. You can do it however you want.”

Kai knows first hand that it can really humble you too.

“When you see a girl my age crook a 12 stair handrail, you got to step it up a little bit,” says Kai.

Olympic skateboarding is already underway, but rock climbing will begin in early August.

“Go Team USA,” shouts Bellisle!

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