Skip to content

North Vancouver climber ascends to World Youth Championships in China

Lana Slipicevic, 17, qualified for worlds after winning silver in bouldering at nationals in May
Competitive climber Lana Slipicevic practises on a small wall in her coach’s backyard in North Vancouver. | Nick Laba / North Shore News

One North Vancouver youth is ascending to the peak of climbing competition.

In August, Lana Slipicevic will fly to Guiyang, China, where she’ll compete against the best young climbers in the world at the IFSC World Youth Championships.

In May, the 17-year-old Carson Graham Secondary student qualified for the international event by winning silver in the Youth A Female Boulder category at the Youth National Championships in Quebec City.

It’s a vast improvement from her results at nationals in 2023, when Slipicevic didn’t make it past the semi-final round.

“I didn’t really have a lot of expectations coming into nationals because last year’s performance definitely was not even close to this year,” she said. “I honestly wanted to go out, have fun, have a good experience, and came out doing way better than I thought I would. So definitely really happy with that.”

Slipicevic’s climbing journey started at age six, as her parents were encouraging her to try a bunch of different sports. Climbing stuck, and the vertically inclined kid began competing at 10 years old.

The young climber began training with Michelle Linhart, a coaching relationship that continues today. Over the past year, the work has become more individualized, with more one-on-one sessions rather than group training. Many of those training days took place on a small climbing wall in Linhart’s backyard in Upper Lynn.

“The more individualized training definitely helped me focus more on what I need to work on,” Slipicevic said.

Apart from strength and precision, a major focus of her training has been honing her ability to problem solve on the fly.

“Knowing that in the past, the things that she had struggled with before was being able to be adaptable on the wall, recognize what wasn’t working,” Linhart said.

In competition, athletes have just four minutes to complete a bouldering route, also called a “problem.”

“A lot of the training was like, ‘OK, go do this climb – that’s below her level in terms of difficulty – but I want you to climb it three different ways,’” Linhart said. “Even though it’s completely not the most efficient way to do it, put yourself in that position and feel what feels wrong.

“And then feel what feels right, and start teaching your brain to make those connections faster…. I think that was a big shift,” she said.

Climber counts former Olympian Alanna Yip among biggest role models

For this year’s Youth World Championships, which kick off Aug. 22, Slipicevic will spend two weeks in Guiyang, a city of around 4.3 million people and the capital of Guizhou province in China. There, the North Vancouverite will soak in the festivities alongside other Team Canada competitors, several of whom are from B.C.

In terms of competition goals, Slipicevic is there to do her best and enjoy the experience.

“I don’t really have a super high goal for rankings – I’m just really excited to go,” she said.

While future Olympic dreams have been percolating between her ears, Slipicevic isn’t sure yet if that’s a feasible goal.

“That’d be amazing to do. I’ve never reached that high a level of climbing,” she said. “My life goal was to make youth worlds and a having accomplished that I’m kind of searching for a new goal.

“So far the next big thing is doing well at nationals again next year and making it to worlds next year as well,” she added.

As far as people she looks up to on the wall, Slipicevic counts former North Vancouver Olympian Alanna Yip as one of her biggest role models.

“She coached us when I was younger, so being able to see all her accomplishments is really awesome to see. She’s such a cool climber and awesome person,” Slipicevic said.