August 10-11th marked the second edition of adidas ROCKSTARS at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany. ROCKSTARS is a unique event that combines high-level competitive bouldering—a style of climbing characterized by short routes protected only by safety mats—with a live rock concert. As the intern for Global Brand Marketing Outdoor, I was on hand to help connect media from around the globe with adidas athletes but also to watch the professional showdown and even partake in the amateur competition myself.
The sport of climbing
I’ve been a climber for the past nine years and have watched the sport grow steadily from a fringe recreational activity into a mature sport, complete with top level athletes and an organized world cup circuit; in fact, climbing has been shortlisted as a candidate to be a part of the 2020 Olympic Games. Events like ROCKSTARS are instrumental in bringing climbing into the spotlight as an exciting, athletic and inspiring pursuit.
Being a ROCKSTAR myself
Friday, the first day of the event, brought the qualifying round of the professional competition, which featured top adidas athletes like Sasha DiGiulian (USA) and Dmitriy Sharafudinov (RUS). After a fast-paced morning setting up interviews with journalists from the Czech Republic to China, I had a few hours of free time. On a whim, I signed up for the “amateur” competition and before long found myself on the ROCKSTARS main stage, climbing the same wall where many of my heroes had been battling it out earlier in the day. After two hours of trying eight problems I was able to complete four and come close on two more, good enough to place 18th out of 45.
Innovation and athleticism
My experience as a competitor gave me the chance to see just what adidas brings to the climbing world. Climbing is undeniably athletic—a quick look at any bouldering video will prove as much—but it’s only recently that competitors have embraced training and recovery programs befitting the sport’s demands. In this regard, ROCKSTARS was particularly innovative: a well-stocked athlete lounge gave access to healthy snacks, a warm-up facility and even therapeutic massages to promote recovery.
A groundbreaking event
Something clearly worked, because the next day’s semi-final and final rounds showcased some of the most spectacular displays of climbing ability that I’ve seen in competition. Kudos to Sean McColl (M) and Alex Puccio (F), the overall winners, and congratulations to all the athletes, organizers and sponsors who made ROCKSTARS the groundbreaking event that it is.