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Rising Stars in 2019 Youth World Championships

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Immediately following the excitement of the World Championships in Hachioji, Japan, top youth climbers took the stage in Arco, Italy for ten days of competition. Young climbers enjoyed the iconic Rockmaster stadium, situated between limestone mountains, rolling olive fields and mom-and-pop gelato shops. Climbers ages 14-19 in categories A, B and Junior competed in Lead, Speed, Bouldering and Combined for a spot on the podium. 

Emma Hunt following her record-breaking speed run. Photo Eddie Fowke

“As soon as I saw the speed buzzer turn green I grabbed my head in disbelief,” said Emma Hunt, from the U.S. Hunt took gold in Youth A Speed and set a new US Women’s record with the time 8.175 seconds.

Overall, it was Japan, last year’s winner, that totally dominated the competition to win 20 medals. The U.S. was second with 10 medals and France was close behind with eight. Many Japanese climbers won two golds, including Junta Sekiguchi in Male Youth B Lead and Combined, Ao Yurikusa in Male Youth A Bouldering and Combined, and Sohta Amagasa in Male Junior Bouldering and Combined.

U.S. Highlights:

In the Female Junior (age 18-19) category, Natalia Grossman (USA) earned second in Bouldering and in Combined. Grossman is part of the U.S. Open Team and placed seventh earlier this year at the Vail Bouldering World Cup. Also in Female Junior is Brooke Raboutou, who recently became the first American to be invited to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Raboutou placed third in lead. It was Laura Rogora, from Italy, that ultimately stole the show for the Female Junior category after placing first in Bouldering, Lead and Combined. 

“Topping the third problem (and) getting the second world title in front of the home crowd was for sure one of the strongest emotions of my climbing career,” Rogora wrote on Instagram following the bouldering round.

In Female A (age 16-17), Americans Emma Hunt and Kiara Pellicane-Hart placed first and second, respectively, in Speed. Hunt placed third in speed in 2018 Youth Worlds and was thrilled to have bested her previous result. 

“Even though I had been in Italy for a few days, I did not have any gelato until after the competition,” she told Gym Climber. “It was worth the wait.”

In Male A, Jordan Fishman (USA) placed second in Speed and Colin Duffy (USA) placed second in Lead. Both Fishman and Duffy are podium mainstays—Fishman placed second in the 2018 Youth World Championships for speed and Duffy first for lead.

“Although it might not be my best discipline, bouldering is definitely my favorite. It’s the most interactive, diverse (and fun) of the three in my opinion,” said Kuang.

In Female B (age 14-15), Callie Close placed first in Speed, an improvement from her 12th-place result in Moscow in 2018. Oriane Bertone, from France, placed first in Bouldering and in Lead, but did not compete in Speed. Bertone is a climber worth keeping tabs on— the 14-year-old is ranked third on 8a for bouldering. 

In Male B, Oliver Kuang placed second in Speed and second in Combined. Kuang also set the new U.S. speed record for his category with the time 6.899. 

“Right after my race, I honestly didn’t really know what I was feeling yet, but one of the US Team members was racing for gold right after me (Callie Close) so I remember just dropping all my stuff to watch her, said Kuang in interview with Gym Climber. “I think I was a little disappointed because I had just lost a race, but then everything sunk in and I remember getting super psyched and a little emotional. I also found out that I had gotten second in combined right after I left the isolation area which was crazy! I was definitely feeling pretty overwhelmed.”

Next up for U.S. Youth Team members, aside from returning to school, is the Pan-American Championships in November. Follow Gym Climber for related updates.

Full results from the Youth World Championships can be found on

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