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Climbers get ready for the third IFSC World Cup of the year in Utah, USA

The second Boulder and Speed IFSC World Cups of the 2024 season touch down in the USA this weekend with USA Climbing Training Center playing host.

From 3-5 May nearly 200 climbers will take to the walls in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a chance to win the latest World Cup medals on offer.

With the Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) in Shanghai just over a week away, some athletes have chosen to focus their attention on China while others are in Salt Lake City to get in that competition groove before heading east.

In the women’s Boulder, the 2023 podium are all back for another shot with USA’s Brooke Raboutou aiming to make another Salt Lake City podium before switching her attention to Olympic qualification. She is joined by teammate Natalia Grossman who seems to flourish in Salt Lake City where she has won four Boulder gold medals already and France’s Oriane Bertone.

It’s also the same with the men as the 2023 podium of Japan’s Narasaki Tomoa and Anraku Sorato and Great Britain’s Toby Roberts all return looking to add to their medal collections. While those three already have their Olympic spots secured, climbers like Belgium’s Simon Lorenzi and Austria’s Jan-Luca Posch are gearing up for Olympic qualification with a Salt Lake City appearance.

Australia’s Grace Crowley and South Africa’s Tegwen Oates are making the most of the international competition exposure before heading to Shanghai. Oates is also in the unique position of competing in both Speed and Boulder & Lead at the OQS, so is competing in both Speed and Boulder in Salt Lake City.

Crowley and Oates will be up against some tough competition with home climbers Emma Hunt and Piper Kelly – who have already qualified for Paris 2024 – in action alongside the Polish Kalucka sister’s Aleksandra and Natalia.

World champion Matteo Zurloni of Italy will be in action in the men’s Speed alongside two more climbers on the way to Shanghai, Japan’s Ryo Omasa and Ukraine’s Yaroslav Tkach. But the name on everyone’s lips in front of a home crowd will be the new men’s Speed world record holder, Sam Watson.

Talking about that record Watson said: “I feel quite accomplished saying that I can be the fastest currently. Obviously winning races in finals and at the Olympics is the end goal though.”

While others are trying to focus on Olympic qualification Watson already has that in the bag from the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile last year, but did that free up the young climber to let loose and go for the world record?

“I’d be lying if I said already being qualified for the Olympics didn’t take a lot of pressure off, there was that pressure earlier to qualify at the Pan American Games. However, I wouldn’t say that it led or didn’t lead to the world record. I just focused on my training and it came naturally with being my best and fastest self.”

Now on home soil, Watson has gone quicker in practice at the World Cup venue, so keep an eye out for another even lower record: “I just moved to Salt Lake City. Originally I’m from Dallas but I am living in Salt Lake now and I put up a 4.691 in practice the other day.

“I for sure want to win this World Cup and break new world records. I can go a lot faster and think I will. The Olympics is the main goal and performance and winning those races are still the top priority.”

Giving some advice to any newcomers to his new home Watson said: “Expect a unique and great competition atmosphere. There’s really not much in the world like it when it comes to a city with so many great climbers. Everyone’s super supportive and I’m looking forward to their support at the World Cup.”

Competition starts with Boulder qualification on Friday 3 May before Watson and the other Speed climbers go for glory on Saturday 4 May. Saturday will also crown the winner of the men’s Boulder competition with the semi-final and final before the event comes to a close on Sunday 5 May and the women’s Boulder semi-final and final.

News and updates about the two World Cup events will be available on the brand-new IFSC website, and on the Federation’s digital channels: Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, LinkedIn, and exclusively for the Chinese audience, Douyin and Weibo.

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