Sophia Curcio is a 17 year old professional speed climber from Charlotte, North Carolina. Curcio started climbing when I was 10 years old and won her first Youth National Championship for speed climbing in 2021. That win kick started her career. In 2022, she made the elite National Development Team for the United States and competed at 6 World Cups, gaining lots of valuable competition experience in the process. In 2023, Curcio made the US National Team and moved to USA Climbing’s home base of Salt Lake City, Utah, to train for the World Cups and the Olympic Qualifying World Championship in Bern. With 11 World Cups, 3 Youth World Championships, and 1 World Championship under her belt, Curcio says that she is excited to be representing the United States at the Pan-American Games as an Olympic hopeful!
Natalia has evolved from promising young star to an established force in the world of climbing, punctuated by back-to-back world championships. Her dominance has been central to a new wave of American success in competition climbing unseen in this country for decades.
Born in Santa Cruz, California, she began climbing at just six years old at the same climbing gym where legend Chris Sharma climbed. Her climbing moved the family to Boulder, Colorado, to train with Team ABC, and soon after established herself as a force in the youth competition circuit.
With confidence, grace, strength and efficiency, Natalia made history in 2021 during her debut professional climbing season when she became the first American in 25+ years to win gold in the women’s bouldering competition, solidifying her position as the overall bouldering World Champion, a feat she repeated in the 2022 season.
Today, she lives in Salt Lake City to train with the USA National Team and is studying to be a therapist at University of Colorado, Boulder, where she explores her passion for the merging of mental and physical strength.
A then 5-year-old,Emma Hunt, tagged along to the climbing gym one day with her Dad after he decided to take up climbing as exercise. They started going as a family and Emma’s love grew for the sport as well as her talent. She started competing at 8 years old and now at 19, she is holding the American Record in Speed climbing.
Hunt competes primarily in speed climbing, an event in which the athletes race up the wall like spiders in an exciting head-to-head format. Sport climbing was added to the Olympics for the Tokyo Games with a combined event in which athletes competed in all three disciplines: bouldering, lead and speed. The climbing program for the 2024 Games in Paris will include two medal events for men and women: one combining bouldering and lead, and the other a standalone speed competition, insert Emma Hunt.
Currently, Emma is enrolled in Kennesaw University online courses while training where she is majoring in Spanish, Modern Languages and looking into pursuing a degree in Healthcare Sciences.
Officially qualified for the Paris Olympics
2023 World Championships: Silver
2023 World Cup: Silver
2023 U.S. National Championships: Gold
2022 World Games: Gold
2022 Edinburgh World Cup: Silver
2022 Salt Lake City World Cup: Silver
2022 Seoul World Cup: Silver
American Record Holder
2021 Pan American Championships: Gold
2021 Salt Lake City World Cup: Silver
Piper Kelly is a 24 year old speed climber from Indianapolis, Indiana. After graduating from Xavier University in 2023 with a degree in Exercise Science, and minor in Psychology and Spanish, Kelly moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to train full time in her quest to be a part of the 2024 Paris Olympics. Aside from being a full time athlete, Kelly loves coaching and working with younger athletes and hopes to stay involved in athletics as a coach after she wraps up her competitive career.
Brooke Raboutou, at just 22 years old, has accomplished a list of significant achievements for a climber her age. Brooke has grown up with world-class climbing genetics under the tutelage of world champion climbing parents Didier and Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou while splitting her time between Colorado and France. Because of living much of her life in France, she is fluent in French! Brooke’s personal work ethic, dedication, and passion for climbing and people, has strengthened her already strong foundation as both an athlete and a young lady and has launched her down a path where climbing success meets solid individual.
From the US youth climbing competition circuit to outdoor US climbing objectives and from the international competition stage to world-class climbing destinations, Brooke spreads happiness and positivity from the routes she climbs to the people she meets. Brooke is a gifted athlete with strong ethics and a professional mentality.
In August 2019, Brooke became the first U.S. climber to qualify for the sports‘ inaugural Olympic Games in Tokyo where she placed 5th. She is currently training for her second Olympic Games in Paris.
2023 World Championships: Bouldering, Bronze
2023 IFSC Hachioji World Cup: Bouldering, Gold
2023 Villars World Cup: Lead, Bronze
2023 Salt Lake City World Cup: Bouldering, Bronze
2023 IFSC Seoul World Cup: Bouldering, Bronze
2022 IFSC Koper World Cup: Lead, Bronze
2022 IFSC Innsbruck World Cup: Lead, Bronze
2022 IFSC Salt Lake City World Cup: Bouldering, Bronze
2022 IFSC Salt Lake City World Cup: Bouldering, Silver
2020 Tokyo Olympic Games: 5th place
2021 IFSC Innsbruck World Cup: Lead; Silver
2021 IFSC Salt Lake City World Cup: Bouldering; Double Bronze
2021 National Team Trials: Lead; Bronze, Bouldering; Bronze
2018 Youth World Champion: Lead
2018 Youth Pan American Champion
2017 Youth World Championships: Bouldering; Bronze, Combined; Silver
2016 All-Around Youth World Champion
Most recently, Brooke graduated from the University of San Diego, majoring in Business. Outside of sport Brooke is passionate about sustainability and maintaining outdoor spaces for future generations.
Anastasia (Annie) Sanders hails from Fort Worth, Texas and is currently the youngest member of the US National Team. After beginning her competition career at just 7 years old, Sanders has accomplished much as a youth competitor and has had an impressive start as she moves into the senior level of competition. At the age of 15, Sanders took home the gold medal in the Boulder and Lead categories of the 2022 US National Championships in Denver, CO. In March 2023, she again swept the competition at the 2023 USA Climbing National Team Trials, winning the bouldering, lead and combined events, and qualifying for the United States national team.
While her top three accomplishments are all climbing related (winning 4 gold medals at Youth Worlds, competing in finals at the 2023 World Championships, and flashing Omaha Beach – 5.14 at the New River Gorge), Sanders being the ever active athlete, also likes to fill her spare time with swimming and mountain biking.
Sean was born and raised in Seattle, WA. He was introduced to climbing by his dad on the granite walls of Index and was instantly hooked. During his teenage years he spent more time climbing than not. Getting outdoors on the weekends and training in the gym during the week became the routine. After spending his formative years cutting his teeth in the Cascades, he now splits time between World Cup Competitions and climbing around the world.
Sean climbs to push the limits of his mind and body. Whether it be a World Cup or a new project he is always looking to find the next level in his climbing progression. A true climber’s climber, Sean has a genuine appreciation for the experience of climbing and the community that exists within the sport.
2021 SLC Bouldering World Cup Gold
2021 Villars Lead World Cup Gold
2021 Chamonix Lead World Cup Gold
2022 Chamonix Lead World Cup Silver
2022 Lead National Champion
Originating from the Southeast, Zach Galla cut his teeth outside on sandstone test pieces and as a part of the internationally known Stone Summit climbing team based in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon entering the senior field of competition, Galla quickly gained experience on the IFSC World Cup circuit competing in 36 international events between 2019 and 2022.
In 2021 Galla moved from his Southeastern home to Salt Lake City, Utah, which allows him the ability to consistently train with the US National Team and work as a routesetter at a local Salt Lake climbing gym, The Front Climbing Club. This relocation also allowed Galla the time to work on and complete The Grand Illusion in nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon. The Grand Illusion carries the exceptionally rare boulder grade of V16 and is widely held as one of the most difficult climbs in the world.
Noah Bratschi, hails from Potomac, Maryland, started climbing at the age of five and competing at the age of nine. Now Bratschi is a part of the US National Team and specializes in the sport of Speed Climbing.
Through his rigorous training, Bratschi has certainly begun to hit his stride over the past few years and claimed some truly groundbreaking accomplishments for the US. First Bratschi brought home the bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships in Moscow, Russia, making him the first American to earn a World Championship Medal in over thirty years. That same year, Bratschi set a new American National Speed record at the 2021 USA Climbing Team Trials Invitationals. Finally, in 2022 Bratschi earned a second place podium spot and became the first American male speed climber to bring home a world cup medal.
While he claims to also enjoy playing video games in his down time, there certainly seems to be no sign of slowing from Noah Bratschi.
John Brosler, is yet another example of success coming from the heart of Texas.
Based in Plano, Texas, Brosler has focused much of his time and efforts into shaving micro-seconds off of his speed climbing time. Since the start of his competition career in 2009, this effort has certainly paid off in a big way as Brosler can claim recognition as a three-time Pan American Games Champion and ten-time National Champion. Brosler has also held the US National Speed Record for just shy of a decade (9 years).
When he isn’t training, Brosler says he most often enjoys three things; making/drinking good coffee, spending quality time with good friends, and riding motorcycles.
When Jesse was six, his parents found a climbing gym in a magazine, and thought it was the perfect fit for his sister. She instantly fell in love with it and started doing recreational lessons. Grupper says he was dragged to the gym, and couldn’t contain his excitement sitting on a couch. He started climbing on a weekly basis, but his coaches still had trouble containing his boundless energy. He eventually moved up to the Senior team (at age nine), and started competing regularly.
Grupper says that, since then, climbing has shaped his identity as a person and dictated how he views and interacts with the world. In addition to his international competition experience, Grupper has also focused on collecting outdoor climbing experiences around the globe, from South Africa to France and all over the US.
Grupper says that he continuously works on finding a balance between climbing and school. It hasn’t been easy, but says he has learned to appreciate both more because of the other. Climbing outside is what Jesse does for fun, and competitions keep him motivated to train harder so he can perform when he’s able to get out in between studying for tests. Grupper says he is constantly looking forward to the next challenge, and excited to see how he can merge his love for climbing with his passion for engineering.
As a recent graduate with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University in the Boston area, Grupper has shifted to pursuing Climbing full time and the investment is paying off. Over the past two years, Jesse has collected one silver and two gold medals on the IFSC Lead World Cup Circuit.
Samuel (Sam) Watson is another Texas based National Team member who has dedicated his focus to the discipline of speed climbing. After he began climbing at the age of five at a local Lifetime Fitness, Watson soon found his way to commercial climbing facilities and to the Dallas-Fort Worth based Team Texas climbing team.
After leaning into the niche discipline of speed climbing, Watson quickly found success by breaking the National Speed Record for his category and qualified for the 2021 Youth National Climbing Team. The following year, Watson would begin competing at a senior level and go on to qualify for the 2022 US National Climbing Team and begin competing on the World Cup circuit. Watson also claimed a rare feat within the sport by bringing home a gold medal in his first year on the circuit by claiming first place at the IFSC Lead and Speed World Cup in Edinburgh.
Many speed climbing athletes have found small ritual routines that they will utilized to pull focus immediately before a speed run. Watson is no different in this regard as you can often see him kick the wall right before stepping to the start holds as a way to settle his nerves. However, while he relies on this routine, Watson can also shake things up by running truly impressive times while wearing sunglasses and even a bucket hat in particularly sunny conditions.
The XIX Pan American Games are scheduled to take place from 20 October to 5 November 2023 in the Chilean capital of Santiago.
As the largest multi-sport event in the Americas, over 6,800 athletes will participate in the Games, competing in 38 different sports. Sport Climbing will make its debut appearance at the Pan American Games in 2023, after a vote by the LVIII General Assembly of Panam Sports secured the sport’s position on the programme.
Olympic Qualification Event
This year the Pan American Games will also serve as an Olympic qualification event for sport climbing. With two (2) qualification spots available for the boulder/lead combined and speed events, the top male and female athletes in each discipline will earn their spot to compete at the 2024 Olympic games in Paris. (unless said top athlete has already qualified, in which case, the next highest placed athlete will receive the qualification)
While one of the US Pan American team members, Emma Hunt, secured her Olympic qualification at the 2023 World Championships earlier this year, the rest of the team will be vying for their chance to secure their spot in Paris.
Click on the athlete photos above to learn more about them!
Number of qualifying spots:
Speed – 1 Male / 1 Female
Boulder/Lead – 1 Male / 1 Female
How to Watch!
The 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago will be streamed live on the PANAM Sports Channel!
Fans will be able to watch broadcast coverage of all climbing events free of charge via the PANAM Sports Channel, as well as on the Panam Sports Channel TV and Mobile Apps available on Adroid and iOS.
Check out the event schedule below and set your reminders to tune in!
SCHEDULE (Eastern Time Zone):
Saturday, 21 October:
10:00 Men’s Boulder & Lead semi-final, Boulder round
1:30 Men’s Boulder & Lead semi-final, Lead round
7:00 Women’s Speed qualification
7:50 Women’s Speed final
Sunday, 22 October:
10:00 Women’s Boulder & Lead semi-final, Boulder round
1:30 Women’s Boulder & Lead semi-final, Lead round
7:00 Men’s Speed qualification
7:55 Men’s Speed final
Monday, 23 October:
6:05 Men’s Boulder & Lead final
Tuesday, 24 October:
6:05 Women’s Boulder & Lead final