Eagle Climbing will send 14 athletes to USA Climbing regional in Denver this Saturday
Gym is also hosting an American Scholastic Climbing League competition on Sunday
This weekend will be a busy one for Larry Moore. The Eagle Climbing gym owner has 14 of his athletes headed to Denver for the USA Climbing Youth bouldering Region 41 championships on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, many of those climbers will hop in with Western Slope middle and high school climbers for the American Scholastic Climbing League qualifying event.
“It’s a big comp weekend,” he said. “A lot of these athletes are going to come back on Saturday evening and compete on Sunday morning — which is great practice actually,” he noted, adding that national championships are three days long and standard World Cup practice is a qualifier on the first day and a semifinal and final the next.
“To compete for multiple days straight is not uncommon, so that will be good practice for these guys.”
The USA Climbing calendar is split by discipline (boulder, lead/top rope and speed) with the boulder qualification window running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 10. Eagle Climbing hosted a qualifier in November as over 250 athletes from Region 41 tried to earn points and finish in the top-26 of their age/gender category — Youth A (16-17-years-old), B (14-15), C (12-13) and D (11 and under) and earn a trip to the Jan. 15 regional. The goal is to place in the top 13 and move on to the Division 4 — one of nine divisions across the country — championships Feb. 11-12 in Oklahoma City. The national championships on July 10-16 are reserved for the best from those fields.
Moore’s program has developed 17 different national qualifiers in its history, and even though no one in the current crop has made it that far before, this young group is one of the largest regional teams.
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“This is a substantial number of athletes that have qualified,” he said. “This is definitely a good year for our team. Some have been to this level before and for some this is their first time, so that’s kind of exciting as well. There’s definitely potential.”
“So you know, pretty psyched we had so many kids qualify,” he continued, adding that athletes from all three of his programs — Talons Elite, Junior Talons and Eagles — are making the trip. Moore had praise for all of his athletes and highlighted many of the first-time qualifiers such as Brynn Lindal.
“She’s worked really hard. She just started climbing like a year and a half ago and quickly advanced to our elite team. Now she’s qualified for her first regional team, which is pretty exciting for her,” Moore said.
Grayson Gibson, whom Moore said has “a lot of potential,” and Dillon Hewitt qualified 12th and 13th, respectively, in the youth D competition.
“He’s become kind of a seasoned competitive athlete, but he’s only been competing for two years,” Moore said of Hewitt. Brynley Velez is another youth D making waves, qualifying 11th.
“She’s super excited to be going. She hasn’t been competing for very long, so that’s a big deal for her,” Moore said. “Some of these kids are coming out of the gate pretty strong.”
Unlike at qualification events, where a “modified redpoint” format — with no time limit for each of the 6 to 10 boulders in-play — is used, the championship format is ‘onsight.’ There are four to five boulders in each category, with four minutes of climb time allowed per boulder (followed by four minutes of rest before attempting the next). The other twist: athletes warm-up in a separate part of the gym and are only allowed a quick preview of the problems they’ll face. During the competition, athletes also have to face the crowd as they wait to go, preventing any other scouting.
“So it’s really just the athlete against the boulder and no assistance from anyone outside themselves at that point,” said Moore.
Athletes scores are determined by the height they reach (number of tops and total number of zones) and the number of attempts required to do so. Live results can be tracked at USACresults.org.
Sunday’s ASCL competition begins at 9 a.m. and runs throughout the day. The first wave (9 a.m. to noon) will include teams from Aspen, Basalt, Battle Mountain, Delta, Eagle Valley, Glenwood, Roaring Fork, Silverton, Summit and Vail Mountain School, as well as the associated middle schools.
“Anyone who wants to come and cheer them on and see what the competition is all about is welcome,” Moore encouraged.