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Going up

Andrew Gilman August 7th, 2013

The sky — attached to a harness — seems to be the limit for Chloe Massenat, a 13-year-old champion rock climber and seventh-grader at Classen School of Advanced Studies. In her future is a trip to Canada, and in her recent past is a national title.

Chloe Massenat
Credit: Mark Hancock

Chloe’s climbing ability became visible through gymnastics, which she did at an early age. She eventually took a summer climbing camp, and her dad, Laurent Massenat, said it was pretty obvious she had a special skill.

“She’s a remarkable athlete with lots of flexibility and strength and the ability to focus as well,” Massenat said.

“I was a casual climber and [had] been interested in it for many years, but I remember when she first started going with me, she demonstrated some abilities.”

Those abilities took her to Atlanta in July, where she beat out nearly 300 climbers in her age group who had advanced to the USA Climbing Sport championship through local, regional and divisional competitions.

Chloe is part of the 12-person Oklahoma Climbing Team, which has climbers ranging from 8 to 17 years old. They work out twice a week at the Rocktown Climbing Gym at 200 S.E. Fourth.

“I know rock climbing isn’t the most popular sport,” Laurent Massenat said. “But it’s something you can do your whole life. It requires a lot of mental strength and focus.”

That focus led Chloe to become the first Oklahoman to win a national climbing championship. The fourday contest forces participants to go through a series of climbs that get increasingly more difficult. Climbers are scored, and then, after two days, the top 10 make the finals.

“When she reached the top of her climb, she had no idea,” said Massenat about the final climb that earned his daughter the title. “She came down and everyone gave her big hugs. Her friends told her she was the national champion.”

And that championship earned her a special climbing training session with the U.S. national team later this year in Canada.

“It’s a combination of talent and the amount of time she spends practicing as well as how she practices,” Chloe’s coach, Aaron Gibson, said of her abilities. “A lot of times, things have to come internally. You have to strategize when you’re climbing. You have to be focused. She does those things exceptionally well.”

Chloe practices about 10 months out of the year and regularly travels to Dallas and Arkansas for competitions.

Credit: Mark Hancock

“We were fortunate to have a lot of awesome kids on the team,” Gibson said. “But by far, this was our best finish by an athlete.”

While sport climbing isn’t an Olympic event, it did make the short list for the 2020 games. Gibson and Chloe’s father are hopeful it can be included in the 2024 Olympics.

For now, Chloe will have to be content with competing in the upcoming World Cup.

“The competition has been tough so far,” Laurent Massenat said. “We’re looking forward to the world-level competition next.”

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