Luce Douady and the risks of “extreme” sports for teenagers: “But climbing is safe”

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He lost his balance as he walked, together with a group of friends and training companions, a path equipped from the parts of Crolles (Isères), in France, which connected two climbing walls. It flew 150 meters along a gully: so, last Sunday, Luce Douady, a star athlete of the transalpine national sport climbing team, died. Luce was a phenomenon: world youth champion, she had won the bronze at the absolute European Championships in 2019 in Trento and dreamed of the Tokyo 2021 Games.

“I scroll through the articles in the newspapers (” Sixteen year old French phenomenon of sport climbing falls and dies during a climb “) and I guess the associations of ideas that can legitimately emerge at a first reading: here is the stunt of a teenager passionate about extreme sport . From what we know the accident in Luce Douady has nothing to do with climbing (it was in a stretch of road) and, I can assure you, it is rare to find a teenager more responsible than an athlete who practices this sport, which is far from extreme, even in its juridical connotation ». Words of Cristina Cascone, technician head of the youth sector and adviser of the Italian Sports Climbing Federation, a discipline loved by the very young. «To climb – explains Cascone – it also begins at four years but before getting up a meter from the ground, you learn all the safety measures and develop them in progressive steps. In “free” disciplines (without a safety rope, such as bouldering, ed) you can reach a maximum of five meters above sea level and protection is ensured by large mattresses. In the others, one is secured to a rope. There is a greater risk in athletics jumps, here at the most you remedy a blow to the knee as in football or basketball. Those who, like Luce, started as a child develop, in hours of meticulous training, a sense of extraordinary control and responsibility that can be superior to that of an adult. Difficult to find more serious teenagers and with more joy to play sports than our boys: what happened to her it’s a mountain accident, of those that unfortunately can also happen on a banal path ».

Sport climbing – Olympic discipline since 2021 – develops in three different specialties: boulder, speed (speed) and lead (Difficulty) complementary to each other and which evaluate three different skills. The routes (in the climbing gym) are coded according to precise rules and approved by the Federation which trains instructors and coaches on four different levels. «I would invite every parent – continues Cascone – to see one of our training sessions in the youth sector: in addition to a extreme control of the body, children and young people develop a sense of prudence which will be useful to them in any area of ​​daily life “.

The real problem is that in passage from the “safe” environment of the gym (generally mounted in a sports hall and protected by mattresses) to nature the danger is always lurking. In Italy the last accident which involved a teenager dates back to September 2015 when, on the Odle Atesine, he disappeared Alex Pfattner, 16 year old from Bolzano, great climbing enthusiast. Expert but not of the level of Light, he fell downhill: the protective helmet was useless and he shattered after a fall from twenty meters. Those who do sport climbing (and it could not be otherwise) love nature and the challenges it offers. And in the mountains, even the most experienced and safest climber of his means, even a trivial passage can be fatal.

June 16, 2020 (change June 16, 2020 | 11:49 am)

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