“My last year of high school I had 63 absences because I would just skip school to go train.”
WHERE DID YOU LEARN HOW TO CLIMB?
I learned how to climb at this gym called boulders in Toronto. I started when I was 8 years old. I went in one day with a friend and the owner of the gym and head coach noticed me and saw that I was loving climbing and had a real affinity for it. So we kind of scooped me up and put me on a competitive team and I started training, competing that year.
THOUGHTS ON WOMEN IN SPORTS?
I think for women it can be harder to be involved or stay involved in sports because of the sort of society around us because an athletic male body is very glorified, we love to see like muscular men or like strong big men whereas an athletic female body is not put on a pedestal in the same way, especially with media, magazines, Instagram, tv, the internet, youtube everything you only see these like beautiful tiny thin women and I think as women and girls grow into the sport and their body sort of changes and look more traditionally masculine you actually I think feel very uncomfortable. And it’s hard to accept the way your body looks for your sport as soon as you leave those sports spaces.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HARDSHIPS YOU’VE FACED AS AN ATHLETE?
I remember when I was 15 or 16, one of my friend’s boyfriends who was very good at climbing was like if you lose 5 pounds you’ll go up two letter grades, which essentially means if you lose 5 pounds you’ll immediately get this much better at climbing, like tangible. (...) I sort of became stuck in my rules and routines of eating and doing all this extra exercise and overtraining. Eventually to the point that I got ill and had to go to the hospital. A lot of athletes I think struggle with the idea that you should look lean, you should look toned, you should look fit. Honestly, my dream was just to be the best rock climber in the world. I don’t think I will. Now that I’ve competed at that level, the best I came was like top 55% which is not even close to first place but that was an interesting transition because I think it opened my eyes to focus on being the best that I could be.
Did you have to make sacrifices to reach this level in the sport?
“Since having the rude awakening that it really takes another species to truly be the best in the world you can still strive for greatness for yourself within your sport.”
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE SPORT HEADING?
It’s hard to say where I think climbing is going, even in just the over 10 years that I’ve been climbing and been competing it’s changed a lot. When I first started, I remember it was so niche and I knew 20-40 people in the city that were climbing consistently and now there are thousands of people in Montreal who have a membership who come in 2-3 times a week to climb. We’re also seeing climbing intersect and infiltrate popular culture. We’re seeing collabs with athletes ( North Face x Gucci etc.). We’re seeing climbing documentaries on Netflix. I am doing a lookbook based on climbing that would not have happened 10 years ago. So I think a lot of people are picking up on the fact that it’s a fun, social sport.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKEAWAY FROM PASSING ON/TEACHING THE SPORT TO A NEW GENERATION OF ROCK CLIMBERS?
Coaching is really fun because, with these kids, even if they don’t continue climbing for a long time, parents tell you that they see a difference in their kids outside of the gym because of the work we’re doing here. It’s really satisfying. I think when you’re working with kids, it’s important that you try and get a read on them and realize what they’re struggling with and you can see these internal issues on the wall. (...) I think climbing, or even just sports in general, provides a lot of direction and purpose in life. Climbing gives you goal-setting skills, and it teaches you patience, social skills, hard work.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE CLIMBING IS THERAPEUTIC FOR YOU?
I think climbing is a form of therapy for me. I definitely have a busy mind and when your climbing and training, especially climbing is something that is very challenging and difficult it sort of puts you into the flow state which a lot of sports people will reference often which I think is sort of synonymous with tunnel vision. It’s sort of like you’re solely focused on one thing. It clears your head, and it allows you to just focus on the more essential, core parts of you and your body because you really have to be present.