[January 25, 2021 – Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this article, USA Climbing has announced further changes to the schedule of the youth climbing season which can be found here and here.]
CBJ reported last week that the nation-wide spike in COVID-19 cases was resulting in a number of climbing gyms closing temporarily to align with county or municipal mandates. This most recent wave of gym closures has now impacted the USA Climbing 2020-2021 youth season, which is currently underway in a “virtual” format that utilizes the KAYA mobile app. Simply put, as more gyms close in states across the nation, USA Climbing’s youth competitors are left with less facilities in which to climb and film their sends.
So, in a recent public message, USA Climbing’s CEO, Marc Norman, offered a “heartfelt thank you” to USA Climbing members and announced several changes to the ongoing youth competition season. “Entering this Youth Bouldering Season, a number of questions have lingered about how best to provide opportunities for our youth to return to climbing in the safest possible manner with the expected surge in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Norman stated. “We initially approached the 2020-2021 Bouldering season schedule with an optimistic perspective. Now, many of our host facilities are facing new challenges and closures as state and local regulations go into effect in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
Some of the changes that Norman announced include an extension of the current Youth Bouldering Qualifying season, a postponement of the ensuing Bouldering Regional Championships to an unspecified date (no earlier than March 2021), and a postponement of the Bouldering Divisional Championships to May 29-30, 2021). Norman also provided some specific dates for the various Lead/Top Rope championships that are scheduled for the spring.
“USA Climbing’s guiding principle is to ensure the well-being of athletes, which means providing safe and healthy opportunities to continue climbing,” added Norman. “We can do this by following local and state guidelines and we remain positive about providing in-person championship event experiences in the future.”
The full announcement from USA Climbing can be viewed here. A separate announcement from the organization reiterated that the Collegiate season is still scheduled to begin on December 7 and will also use the KAYA mobile app.
CBJ will report on additional updates about USA Climbing’s various season schedules as they become available.
John Burgman is the author of High Drama, a book that chronicles the history of American competition climbing. He is a Fulbright journalism grant recipient and a former magazine editor. He holds a master’s degree from New York University and bachelor’s degree from Miami University. In addition to writing, he coaches a youth bouldering team. Follow him on Twitter @John_Burgman and Instagram @jbclimbs. Read our interview Meet John Burgman, U.S. Comp Climbing’s Top Journalist.