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KAYA and USA Climbing: Interview On Their Partnership and Future Plans

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USA Climbing announced September 14 that they will partner with KAYA to deliver virtual competitions for this year’s qualification series. 

We caught up with KAYA and USA Climbing on the partnership details. 


Can you talk a bit about the app’s format? 

“KAYA allows climbers to track all their climbs – whether indoors at climbing gyms part of the KAYA platform, at home, or outdoors. We then playback climbing insights to you as a climber so you can understand your overall volume and intensity in each session. The app has a social feed where you can see climbing activity from all over the world, or filter down to just who you’re following. We also run Challenges so folks can compete, and of course that’s where USA Climbing comes in,” wrote KAYA Chief Strategy Officer Kimberly Ang in an email to Gym Climber.  

Did you have to create new app features for the competitions, or is it through an existing function of the app? 

“Challenges were a part of KAYA since the inception. We believe competition can be a healthy and positive motivator for climbers, so our climbers have always been able to compete, have their climbs stack up over time and win some nice prizes as well. Of course now they can win BIG prizes like USA Climbing titles! But this has always been and always will be a core element of KAYA,” wrote Ang. 

Was it [the app] difficult to make? 

“There is definitely a lot of technology and intelligence powering the many components of the KAYA platform, but what’s really important to us is simplifying the experience for climbers. Making it not just easy to use, but so awesome that our community is psyched about it. Yes, we’ve been working hard, but truly what you see right now is just the beginning,” Ang wrote. 

USA Climbing 

Why KAYA for the partnership? 

“Partnering with KAYA has given USA Climbing a pathway to hold competition climbing during the pandemic. This partnership will not only benefit USA Climbing, our competitors and gym partners but will also assist in providing relevance to our coaches and routesetters. KAYA having a hook into this space made them a natural partnership with our virtual series,” wrote VP of Sport John Muse. 

Did you consider other candidates as well?

“We were already in conversations with KAYA to pilot a virtual recreational series. When the shift happened toward no in-person events as held in previous seasons, the discussion naturally began to take place with KAYA toward their interest in furthering the partnership with a virtual qualifying series. There were internal conversations surrounding other possibilities other than KAYA but we all felt as if KAYA met the necessary criteria and would be a great partner for this new virtual series concept,” wrote Muse. 

In the press release, Marc [Norman, CEO] mentioned that the partnership will bring innovation that will engage an even larger audience in the future. Can you tell us more about this future innovation and what it will bring? 

“The partnership with KAYA is on the Qualification Series and is the precursor to the Recreational Series we intend to launch this season. It is a bit early to go into too much detail here just yet. Suffice it to say we are excited for the opportunities to expand our reach outside of high level competition climbing in the future,” wrote Norman. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

“I think climbers have been considering what role technology can and should have in our sport for a long time. The role of tracking and community building through digital has become pretty obviously powerful in a lot of other sports, and even more so in climbing during COVID as we are all distanced. KAYA is psyched and proud to be pursuing a vision for what digital can do for us, by connecting climbers to each other and leveraging data and tech to push our sport forward,” wrote Ang. 

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