A group of gravity-defying athletes will run, climb, and leap their way across an indoor obstacle course during an upcoming Parkour competition in Vancouver.
The first-ever North American Parkour Championships will highlight the grassroots sport that typically involves using acrobatic feats to swiftly navigate the urban environment.
Around 25 top-level athletes from across the continent have been invited to take part in the competition, which will include a speed course, skills challenge, and freestyle battle.
The event is being hosted by Origins Parkour & Athletic Facility, a business that opened its doors last September in a custom-renovated, third-floor space on Main Street.
Spectators will get to see the athletes compete for cash prizes in a sprawling indoor facility that features a maze of wooden structures, metal bars, climbing wall, and gymnastic floor.
“They can expect to see stuff that they probably would otherwise think is impossible at this event,” Rene Scavington, owner and head coach of Origins Parkour, told the Straight.
“If anything, we’re trying to advertise it as like a cheaper version of Cirque du Soleil,” he said with a laugh. “…Without all the theatrics and stuff, but you’ll get to see the same calibre of skill for sure.”
Scavington noted a key goal of the North American Parkour Championships is to improve the format for competitions.
“The people that designed it and the people that we got feedback from are actual athletes. We’re listening to athletes,” he said.
“We’re also athletes ourselves, so we know the kind of things that we want to do and want to see in competitions.”
The facility on Main Street is unique in Vancouver and one of the largest of its kind in North America, Scavington said.
It is a roughly 10,000-square-foot space with 25-foot-high ceilings and also includes a weight room, showers, lounge, and workshop.
“What we tried to create was a space that we could really call our own for Parkour that had everything we need,” Scavington said.
Besides hosting the upcoming competition, Origins Parkour offers instruction for beginners and a space for experienced practitioners to hone their skills.
Scavington said his goals are to get more people involved in Parkour and improve the profile of the sport, which many have come to know through movies and online videos.
Scavington has been involved with Parkour for around a decade. He described it as a way for people to reconnect with their inherent playful, active side.
“It’s something that you do as a child. You know, who can get to the top of the playground fastest? You’re jumping off things, you’re climbing on things,” he said.
“And then there’s a certain point where people either tell you to stop or your parents tell you to stop, and you stop doing it. You stop climbing on things. You stop exploring your environment.”
“But, really, it’s something we should be able to do and everyone can do. People, they want to get back what I think was taken away from them or they were told to stop doing. So they start doing Parkour.”
The North American Parkour Championships takes place at Origins Parkour & Athletic Facility [2655 Main Street] on Saturday (February 2) at 6 p.m. Admission is $10.
A qualifying event open to non-invited athletes is also scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m., and a women’s and youth competition takes place on Sunday at noon.
Check out a video of Origins Parkour & Athletic Facility here: