Climbing Competition Technical Incidents and Protests

When a technical incident occurs during an indoor rock climbing competition, the climber and his coach have the right to protest or appeal. This is the right of the competition climber. There are processes set up to handle unforeseen situation that causes an unfair disadvantage to a competition rock climber or climbing team. A protest may apply to a judge's decision, procedures or processes that may have caused an unfair advantage or disadvantage to other competition climbers. A protest may be filed by a coach or climber, while a technical incident is usually limited to being filed by the competition climber.

Each indoor climbing competition may define its own rules for handling a technical incident. The specific rules may vary from event to event, so it is important to get the rules each time.

There are several possible causes for technical incidents during an indoor climbing competition. The belayer may not pay out rope as fast as you are climbing. This may restrict dynamic movement or in extreme cases, prevent you from physically reaching the hold. A carabiner may get twisted on the quick draw, or a carabineer gate may be sticky or stuck. Equipment provided for the competition should be properly set up and in working condition. All competitors should have the same conditions. Sometimes a climbing hold will spin, break or move. Holds must be secure against the wall. If a hold moves it could cause a fall. Even if it does not cause a fall, you may protest at the point of the hold. A power outage or irregular lighting (including spotlights or camera flashes) which other competitors were not subjected to may be considered a valid reason for a protest. In addition to situations that apply to your climbing, you may also file protests about the ranking results, a judge's or staff's decision. Causes for technical incidents are situation specific. If you feel you have had some aspect applied to you unfairly, file a protest. Filing a protest is your right as a competitor.

At international events there will be a fee to file a protest. The fee is rightly intended to limit frivolous protests. Protests are filed through the competition climbing team manager or coach. The team manager will also attend pre-competition meetings and must be versed in the rules for the competition. The manager represents the interests of his team to the event organizers and judges..

At national or local events the climber will usually address his protest directly to the person responsible - usually either the judge or event organizer.

When a technical incident occurs, a protest should be filed immediately. The fact that everyone saw it does not guarantee any action will take place. It is the climber's responsibility to file the incident. If you are climbing when the incident takes place an decide to climb on, you will most likely lose your claim. If the incident does not make you fall, you should turn and communicate directly to the route judge that you intend to claim a technical incident. If the incident has caused you to fall, immediately communicate your intention to the route judge while you are being lowered, then on the ground re-state your intention. The judge will: 1) accept your claim; 2) investigate your claim, then accept or reject; 3) reject your claim.

If your claim is accepted: You will immediately go to a holding area and be given a reasonable amount of time to rest. You should be given an opportunity to recover from your climb. You need some time for your muscles to recover, but you don't want to cool down.

If your claim is rejected and you are not satisfied with the explanation, immediately verbally state your intention to appeal. Your appeal to the chief judge may need to be in writing. This will depend on the level of competition. Generally national and international competitions will require an appeal to the chief judge to be in writing. Look up rules and state the specific paragraph that may be applicable.

If all appeals have been exhausted, you should write to your country's governing body for competition climbing. You may be able to get the problem fixed for the next competition. Be specific in your complaint. Cite the specific controlling paragraph in the rules. Write and mail your appeal as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be to resolve.

Your right as a competitor to protest can be exercised for technical incidents or improper application of the rules. It keeps the playing field fair. No one will think less of a climber for exercising his right of protest. This is a powerful way to improve comps and see that the sport continues to grow.

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