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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
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21 'spidermen' to scale glass facade of MBS

[Above - SPIDEY: World Championship Climb producer Matt Robertson testing the climb route.]

21 climbers to scale MBS towers
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BY SARAH CHANG

TEAMS of top rock climbers from around the world will compete to emerge as the best "Spidermen", in a building-climbing contest - the first of its kind - to be held here.

Tomorrow, 21 climbers will scale the glass facades of integrated resort Marina Bay Sands' three 200m-tall towers to reach the Sands SkyPark, in the World Championship Climb.

Each team comprises two men and a woman, who will have to conquer one tower each, one after another.

After the last climber completes the 55-storey ascent, all three team members have to race to the finish line near the infinity pool in the Sands SkyPark - the rooftop level linking the three towers containing swimming pools, restaurants and a viewing deck.

The seven teams represent the United States, Canada, China, Europe, the Commonwealth, Asia and Singapore.

The contest will be held to mark the official opening of Marina Bay Sands tomorrow, but the resort plans to make it an annual affair.

The resort - which opened 963 hotel rooms, conference rooms and a casino on April 27 - will open the remaining 1,598 hotel rooms, and more shops and restaurants tomorrow.

As part of the opening, eight skydivers will jump off the Sands SkyPark and parachute into the waters in front of the resort's Event Plaza.

A concert - featuring former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland, as well as homegrown stars JJ Lin and Sylvia Ratonel - will be held at the Event Plaza and attended by about 4,000 people who were given tickets earlier.

Dr Omer Mei-Dan, the climbing contest's executive producer, said that the climb will be challenging as the tower walls are overhanging.

It means that the climbers will need a stronger grip in the last leg of the climb, he said.

They also need to use the same set of muscles repeatedly to move up, making the climb more strenuous, he added.

Ms Beatrix Chong, 31, the top female rock climber in Singapore's national team who will represent the country in the contest, said this will be the first time she will climb a building in her 11 years of experience.

She usually climbs over natural rocks and rock interfaces at outdoor gyms, and does speed climbs of only 30m in height.

After a trial climb yesterday, she said that climbing a building is more challenging than rock climbing because there are no proper footholds and she can use only one climbing method, the layback technique.

This requires the climber to pull himself up with the arms and push hard with the feet.

Mr Tim Emmett, 36, a British television host and a member of Team Commonwealth, emerged first out of the seven climbers involved in yesterday's trial climb.

Asked to rate his team's chances, he said: "I got to the top first, so, hopefully, if we play our cards right, we can get to the top before everyone else."

He added: "The view was just amazing. I wanted to get my parachute and jump off the building."

Climbers will have two more trial climbs on the towers before the competition begins at 5.30pm tomorrow.

schang@sph.com.sg


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