Bibai City Sports Center high-challenge climbing wall is popular
The sport climbing facility in Central Hokkaido’s Bibai City Sports Center features a climbing wall with protrusions (holds), and is garnering popularity. Due to an increase in usage, the city reduced the Center’s closed days from two days a week to one starting in spring of last year. Popularity is also apparently being bolstered by wall climbing debuting as an official sport in last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, increasing the competitor population.
The Center provides artificial walling that can be used both for “lead climbing”, in which participants climb an approximately ten-meter-high scape with a safety rope attached, and “bouldering”, in which participants climb an approximately five-meter-high scape without a safety rope. There are not many other facilities in Hokkaido equipped with a national competition level of difficulty, and this facility is even being used in Hokkaido preliminary competitions for the National Sports Festival.
According to Bibai city, usage was in an uptick trend until just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, reaching a total of 3,893 users in 2019. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, even though there were many days in which the facilities could not be used, such as times when it was used for vaccine administration, the monthly average number of users is over 200 people.
The city is also working to promote usage, with efforts including closing the facilities only on Mondays since April of last year, and usage appointments are pouring in for high school clubs and camps from all over Hokkaido, including Sapporo. The Engaru High School Alpine Club, a regular national climbing competition presence, comes to practice once a week. Advisor and teacher Hatano drives them to and from the site, which is a three-hour trip one-way. Hatano gives his seal of approval, “In addition to having a high level of difficulty and an authentic functionality, the usage fee is less expensive than private sector facilities. This is one of the best practice spots in Hokkaido.
Sport climbing was included in the Olympics for the first time in the Tokyo Olympics, and Japanese athletes were among those competing and winning medals in the category. Nara from wall management company Tohandoujou Bibai commented, “I’m glad that there are more and more people interested in climbing. I want the next generation to be involved in carrying these facilities onward into the future.”
Bibai City Sports Center
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