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The 2021 USA Climbing National Team Trials will kick off March 25, at High Point Climbing and Fitness, in Memphis, Tennessee. Over the course of five days, athletes will compete in Bouldering, Lead and Speed. The top three ranked athletes per gender in each respective discipline will comprise the 2021 U.S. National Team. The preliminary schedule may be found here.
Over 60 athletes are set to compete, including the Olympic-qualified athletes Brooke Raboutou, Nathaniel Coleman, Kyra Condie, and Colin Duffy. As they are already on the U.S. Team, Olympic-qualified athletes will be excluded from National Team rankings when determining eligibility for international competitions. Click here for the list of confirmed registrants.
The last major competition held in the states, the Pan-American Championships, took place over a year ago, in Los Angeles, February 27-March 1. Two weeks later, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. Athletes faced a year of uncertainty, with gym access and the competition calendar changing on the day-to-day.
“… More than anything, I am just excited to get back in the ring and battle it out,” said Ben Hanna. Hanna is among a handful of top athletes to keep an eye during the trials. In 2019, he dominated several of the National Bouldering Cup competitions. “This [past] year was definitely a weird one for me … I spent a lot of time in this limbo of not really knowing what I wanted to train for or when I would have to perform next. All things considered though, I feel like I’ve prepared to the best of my ability with the information I’ve had, and I’m happy with that.”
Sienna “Cece” Kopf is another top athlete to watch. “13 days till Team Trials!” she posted on Instagram. “Above all, I’m remembering all the little victories I’ve had while training my [butt] off this last year. Strength and skill gains. Confidence. Intuition. Mentality. It’s time for me to carry those victories over the finish line and leave it all out there on the mats!”
Other top athletes include Sean Bailey, Zach Galla, and Zander Waller, the highest ranking males in the 2020 Pan-American Championships. Bailey placed 9th in the Toulouse Olympic Qualifier in 2019 and has made finals in both Bouldering and Lead World Cups. In the women’s field, keep an eye on Ashima Shiraishi and Natalia Grossman. Both women have won National competitions (the 2019 Bouldering Nationals and 2020 Bouldering Nationals, respectively), and have placed highly in the international circuit.
Because Covid remains a concern, the event will proceed without spectators. In addition, personal coaches will not be allowed to accompany athletes, but USA Climbing will provide a US National Team coach for assistance in isolation and appeals. All attendees will be required to submit a negative Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction test, obtained within 72 hours of arrival at the venue. Face masks will be required at all times during the event. A complete list of the Covid-related protocols may be found here.
As spectators will not be allowed at the event, USA Climbing will be livestream the event. Stay tuned for links.
Feature image by Jon Vickers