Team USA Finishes Strong at IFSC Youth World Championships

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Ashima Shiraishi IFSC Bouldering Youth World Championship Climbing

Ashima Shiraishi tops a problem during the Female A category bouldering event. Photo: Courtesy USA Climbing

From August 30 through September 10, some of the world's best youth climbers, ages 13-19, gathered in Innsbruck, Austria to compete in the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Youth World Championships. With over 1,000 competitors in attendance, it was the largest IFSC comp to date. Alongside the record-setting crowd came another first—this year the IFSC premiered the combined category, the same scoring system that will appear in the 2018 Youth Olympic games and 2020 Olympic Tokyo Summer Games.

As the name implies, the new category combines each competitor’s ranking from bouldering, lead, and speed events to create one overall score. The lowest aggregate number (the person with the the best ranking across the board) wins. Athletes face unique challenges in competing for the combined championship, as fatigue from previous events may effect a climber's performance later.

With the new scoring system in place and a record turn-out, this years comp may be a preview of what we'll see at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Over 75 athletes from USA Climbing travelled to Innsbruck for the event. Among them were big names like Ashima Shiraishi, Margo Hayes, Brooke Raboutou, and Kai Lightner.

Ashima Shiraishi Brooke Raboutou IFSC Championship youth climbing

(Left to right) Luiza Emeleva (RUS), Ashima Shiraishi, and Brooke Raboutou atop the Female A category bouldering podium. Photo: Courtesy USA Climbing

After 12 days of fierce competition, the USA Climbing team finished strong. In the Female A category, Ashima Shiraishi and Brooke Raboutou each took home three medals. Shiraishi’s outstanding performance earned her gold in lead and bouldering, and silver in the combined category. Raboutou won silver in lead, and bronze in both bouldering and the combined category.

In the Female Junior category, Claire Buhrfeind won gold in bouldering and lead. Maya Madere won silver in bouldering, and Margo Hayes, who narrowly missed the podium for lead, made a comeback by claiming bronze in the combined category.

Several Male Juniors also made the podium. Kai Lightner placed third in both lead and combined, and Michael Finn-Henry won third place in speed.

The youngest USA Climbing competitor to podium was Colin Duffy, 13, youth B category, who won first place in lead.

Kai Lightner Boulder IFSC Youth World Championship Rock Climbing

Kai Lightner during the Male Junior bouldering event. Photo: Courtesy USA Climbing

Overall U.S. competitors won five gold, three silver, and six bronze medals for a total of 14 trophies, a historic accomplishment for the USA Climbing team.

“They showed up to the event with their 'A' game," said USA Climbing CEO Kynan Waggoner. "And proceeded to show the rest of the world's climbing teams what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication...this is just the beginning!”

For a full list of competition results, visit IFSC-Climbing.org.

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