Team USA take all four Olympic invitations at PanAm Games, Santiago
- Friday 27th October 2023
Team USA have swept the board in the Pan American Games in Santiago taking all four – two Speed and two Boulder & Lead – Olympic Qualification places up for grabs.
The first of the five Continental Championships, the Pan American Games, at which the next batch of invitations for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are assigned were held in Santiago over the last few days. All four Olympic invitations went to Team USA climbers; Samuel Watson and Piper Kelly won the Gold medals in the Speed whilst and Jesse Grupper and Natalia Grossman won the Boulder & Lead Golds.
Men’s Boulder & Lead
Jesse Grupper had a totally stellar semi-final round scoring 99.8 and 92.1pts in the Boulder and Lead rounds; his 191.9 total was significant beyond second placed Sean Bailey and Seam McColl on 164.2 and 152.8pts respectively. Sean Bailey, Sean McColl and Zachary Galla all fought back hard in the Boulder round of the Final to finish on an almost identical score of 84.4/5; Jesse Grupper and Victor Baudrand followed with 69.4 and 69.3 respectively. Come the Lead round of the Final however, Grupper turned up for a real fight; posting an outstanding climb he finally peeled off the wall on 92.1pts - miles ahead of second and third placed Sean Bailey and Zachary Galla on 57.1 and 54.1 respectively.
Jess Grupper’s victory was emphatic; 161.5pts; Sean Bailey and Sean McColl took second and third with 141.6 and 138.5pts. Taking the top spot gave Jesse the all-important Olympic Qualification ticket too. Speaking after the chalk dust had settled Jesse said;
“It feels unreal, for sure, it’s an incredible moment for me. I’ve dreamt about this since I was a little kid, and it is so meaningful to see it through to fruition and have it actually happen.
“I knew that I said some points to make up for from the Boulder round. I was proud of the Boulder round, honestly, I think I’ve pulled out some moved that I don’t know if I would have been able to do a year ago, but I also wanted to fight as hard as I could on the Lead wall. Coming out, I took one move at a time, I knew that every move would matter, especially on that headwall, and I’m really glad that I was able to pull that out and make it happen.”
Jesse also comments about his top on M3 in the Boulder final: “On M3 I actually forgot that timer starts at five seconds, not three, so I totally thought that I timed out. It was really shocking to find out that I actually got the top!”
Women’s Boulder & Lead
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brooke Raboutou and Natalia Grossman were neck-and-neck in the semi-finals; Brooke finished the round with a very slight advantage on 176.0 pts over Natalia who finished on 175.9. Third placed Alannah Yip was some way down the points on 147.8pts. Raboutou’s fortunes waned however in the Boulder round of the Final where she relinquished the lead to Grossman who finished on 84.3pts; Raboutou held onto second place with 69.4pts and Alannah Yip stayed in third with 64.7pts. Whilst Grossman’s Lead effort in the Final was substantial, and she finished on 88.1pts, Raboutou came out fighting hard and although it was mathematically impossible for her to take the overall win ahead of Grossman she came within an ace of topping the route and a perfect score but had to settle for 96pts. Anastasia Sanders pipped Alannah Yip for third place in the Lead with 76.1pts.
Once the result of the two rounds had been added together Natalia Grossman ended on a combined score of 172.4pts, Brooke Raboutou placed second with 165.4pts and Alannah Yip finished in third with 128.7pts.
Talking after the event a tearful Grossman said; “I feel just so grateful and proud of all the work I have put in. I changed a lot in this past couple of months, in my climbing and in my life, and to see it pay off feels really good.
Commenting on her Lead round, when she mathematically secured first place, Grossman added; “My friend Oscar was holding his finger up, like, ‘First!’, and I almost didn’t believe it. I wanted to wait until I saw it, just because people tend to say things before they happen… it was a very surreal moment!”
The European Championship in Laval is the next Continental Champion where more Olympic invitations will be handed out; the action is happening this weekend.
Finally, an interview with Jesse Grupper where he talks about both his outdoor and competition climbing is scheduled for published in the Jan/Feb issue of Climber Magazine so look-out for that come early December.