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Two Saanich climbers looking to earn ticket to the Olympics

Both earned spots in RBC Training Ground program
Saanich speed-climber Ethan Pitcher will be competing at the 2023 Santiago Pan Am Games. (Brendan Mayer/News Staff)

Tanara Oliveira/News Staff

Two climbing athletes hailing from Saanich are the finalists in the RBC Training Ground program, a nationwide talent identification program organized by the Canadian Olympic Committee and aimed at discovering and financially supporting future Olympic prospects.

Ethan Pitcher, 22, and Michael Finn-Henry, 24, have earned their spots and are now set to make their way to Toronto for the program’s national final on Dec. 2.

“Ethan is a dedicated speed climber,” said Christiane Marceau, executive director, Climbing Escalade Canada. “He is looking for an Olympic ticket to show the world what he can do on a speed wall, so we’re excited to see how he does at the final.”

Finn-Henry, who also represents the national team, will be sharing accommodations with Pitcher during the event.

“I’m excited to meet all of the other athletes and learn more about my own athletic abilities through the process,” said Finn-Henry.

This year, a total of 2,200 athletes ranging in age from 14 to 25, spanning a variety of sports, participated in cost-free local qualifier events held throughout the country. At these events, participants underwent rigorous assessments of their core attributes, including speed, strength, power, and endurance, all under the keen scrutiny of Olympic talent scouts. The aim was to identify the sport best suited to their abilities or provide additional financial support in their current athletic pursuits based on their physical prowess.

Out of this extensive pool, the top 100 exhibiting exceptional Olympic potential have advanced to the RBC Training Ground national final. From this group, 30 athletes will secure funding, earn a place on Team Canada alongside one of 12 partner national sport organizations and enjoy an accelerated pathway to the Olympics.

During the RBC Training Ground National Final, athletes will once again undergo testing, this time against sport-specific high-performance benchmarks, under the supervision of program sport partners. Anthropometric measurements (such as height and wingspan), sport-specific evaluations (conducted after the initial qualifier stage), and competitive sport histories will also factor into the selection process for funding recipients.

The announcement of the 30 athletes chosen to receive funding will take place early in 2024. These funds will be allocated toward various aspects of the athletes’ development, including coaching, transportation, travel, equipment, and nutrition.