Sophia Curcio and Noah Bratschi Race to Gold at National Team Trials

The 2024 National Team Trials kicked off yesterday in Gaithersburg, MD. As rain fell on Sportrock Rio, the country’s top speed climbers battled for spots on the podium and on the National Team. Of course, National Team athletes will be designated to represent the U.S. at international World Cup events sanctioned by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC).

Camaraderie was at an all-time high throughout the night, as athletes cheered each other to the buzzer, played rock-paper-scissors before races, and snagged new records. Notably, Emma Hunt broke her own Women’s Speed Pan American Record (6.67 seconds), setting a new Women’s Speed American Record of 6.54 seconds. Meanwhile, Zach Hammer set a new personal record of 5.12 seconds during the Qualification Round, making him the second-fastest American Speed Climber.

Even though Emma Hunt and Piper Kelly were pre-selected for the National Team because of their Olympic Qualification, the two still joined their fellow athletes for Qualification and an Olympic Format Exhibition that followed the Finals Round.

The four fastest women and men entered Semi-Finals as an energetic crowd grew around the 15-meter speed wall. The women’s “small final” boiled down to Micaela Patajo against Liberty Runnels, with Runnels finishing roughly half of a second ahead of Patajo, earning Runnels the 3rd place finish. The “big final” boiled down to Sophia Curcio against Kaitlyn Bone, with Curcio finishing in 7.33 seconds and Bone finishing in 8.16 seconds, earning them the 1st and 2nd place finishes respectively.

Curcio and Bone both earned enough National Team Ranking points to join the 2024 Speed National Team.

The men’s “small final” boiled down to Zachary Hammer against Thomas Lin, which kicked off with a false start, earning Lin the 3rd place finish. The “big final” boiled down to Noah Bratschi against Richard Li. Both had an efficient run, with Bratschi finishing in 5.29 seconds and Li finishing in 5.41 seconds, earning them the 1st and 2nd place finishes respectively.

Bratschi and Hammer both earned enough National Team Ranking points to join the 2024 Speed National Team.

Women’s Speed Podium: 

Sophia Curcio
Kaitlyn Bone
Liberty Runnels

Photo by Dan Gajda.

“I feel pretty psyched,” said Curcio, who looked calm as ever after her win. “I especially want to thank my parents and all my coaches.”

Men’s Speed Podium: 

Noah Bratschi
Richard Li
Thomas Lin

Photo by Dan Gajda.

“I was just trying to feel the flow and get a good run,” said Bratschi, who had his mind on a celebration dessert coming out of Finals.

2024 Speed National Team: 

Emma Hunt
Piper Kelly
Sophia Curcio
Kaitlyn Bone
Sam Watson
John Brosler
Zachary Hammer
Noah Bratschi

The Speed Finals Round is currently streaming on Outside Watch. Photo highlights from the Speed Finals Round can be found here (photos by Dan Gajda, not available for commercial use).

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