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Sam Watson hugging his Dad after winning his Olympic ticket
Sam Watson hugghing his Dad after winning his Olympic ticket © Lena Drapella/IFSC

Kelly and Watson Win Gold and Olympic tickets

USA dominate in Santiago as they win 4 medals and 2 Olympic tickets in Speed.

Piper Kelly (USA) and Sam Watson (USA) secured their Olympic tickets this weekend as the USA dominated the Pan American games in Santiago, Chile.

Emma Hunt (USA) came second, and Andrea Rojas (ECU) third in the women’s event. Noah Braschi (USA) came second for the men, and Carlo Granja (ECU) came third.

Women Speed: How It Happened

Twelve women competed in the women’s round, with the top eight going forward to the final.

Emma Hunt was the fastest in qualification, ahead of Sophia Curcio and Piper Kelly. Andrea Rojas, the second-fastest athlete in the competition, finished fifth with her fastest time of 8.57s after a few slips and stumbles. Because she finished fifth, she would join Emma Hunt in the top bracket.

In the final, the USA would dominate the quarter-final round, with all three USA women getting through. Emma Hunt would race against Andrea Rojas and Sophia Curcio against Kelly Piper in the semi-final. Emma won her race by over a second, while Sophia slipped in hers, and Kelly would face Emma in the final.

Piper Kelly won her Olympic ticket with her semi-final win, as Emma Hunt already has an Olympic ticket.

Piper Kelly descending after she wins her semi-final race and an Olympic ticket at the Panams Games 2023..
Piper Kelly realising she is going to Paris 2024 © Lena Drapella/IFSC

Andrea would win the bronze medal in the small final ahead of Sophia. Emma would false start in the big final, giving Piper a solo race to win the competition with a personal best of 7.52s. Piper was the second-fastest athlete in the competition.

Andrea Rojas celebrating winning the bronze medal at the Panams Games 2023.
Andrea Rojas celebrating winning the bronze medal © Lena Drapella/IFSC

Piper would say after the final

“I’m completely blown away, so excited to go to Paris! The goal coming into this event was to win and to get the Olympic ticket, but I knew it was going to be tough. I had a little bit of a rough qualifier, I slipped on my first one, so I had to pull through on the second one, and then the perfect final round, getting faster each time and setting a new PB in the last race.”

Men Speed: How It Happened

With only 16 men competing, the qualification was no more than seeding for the final bracket.

Sam Watson (USA) finished first in qualification, posting the fastest time of 5.38s. Carlos Granja (ECU) would come second, and John Brosler third. Noah Bratschi stumbled in both of his qualification runs. His fastest time of 6.56s would seed him 11th in the lower half of the final bracket.

In the final round, Sam progressed without an issue to the semi-final. He recorded the fastest time of 5.05s to win his quarter-final round. The same cannot be true for John Brosler, who came to a stop twice in his last 16 rounds, losing to Predo Egg (BRA). After cleaning up his runs, Noah would make it through to the semi-final round against Carlos Granja.

Samuel would race against Ethan Flynn-Pitcher, while Carlos would race against Noah in the semi-final round. Both races were anti-climatic as Ethan and Carlos slipped and fell off the route. Noah did set a personal record of 5.37s.

Noah Bratschi wins his semi-final race and sets a PR at the Panams Games 2023.
Noah Bratschi wins his semi-final race and sets a PR © Lena Drapella/IFSC

Carlos would win the bronze medal in the small final ahead of Ethan by 0.07s.

In the big final, the stakes were the highest they had been in the competition. Both the gold medal and an Olympic ticket were on the line. Sam kept his cool after Noah stumbled to win the gold medal and the Olympic ticket.

Sam Watson beating Noah Bratschi in the Men Speed final race at the Panams Games 2023.
A slip was costly for Noah Bratschi as Sam Watson wins gold and the Olympic ticket© Lena Drapella/IFSC

After the podium, Sam said

“I feel like this is the culmination of my entire process, that I’ve been working on for the past I-don’t-know-how-may years… since Speed Climbing as a single medal in November 2020, so it’s been a huge deal for the past three years.”



  1. Sam Watson (USA)
  2. Noah Bratschi (USA)
  3. Carlos Granja


  1. Piper Kelly (USA)
  2. Emma Hunt (USA)
  3. Andrea Rojas (ECU)