Salt Lake City Boulder and Speed World Cup Preview

This World Cup is a chance for others to shine, as many athletes skip it to focus on the Shanghai OQS in two weeks.

Natalia Grossman celebrating topping a boulder at the 2023 Salt Lake City World Cup
Natalia Grossman won back last year at the Salt Lake City World Cup © Slobodan Miskovic/IFSC.

It is less than 100 days before the Olympics, and you can tell.

The Shanghai Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) event starts in less than two weeks, and most athletes competing in the OQS Series are skipping the Salt Lake City (SLC) World Cup. Only 29 athletes out of the 191 registered for SLC are registered for the OQS, 11 in Speed and 18 in Boulder&Lead.

While Janja Garnbret won’t be in Salt Lake City, 16 other Paris 2024 Olympians will be.

There are 10 in Boulder, six male and four female, including Jakob Schubert, Campbell Harrison, Colin Duffy, Toby Roberts, Sorato Anraku and Tomoa Narasaki. We will also see Natalia Grossman, Oceania MacKenzie, Oriane Bertone and Jessica Pilz.

Six Olympians are competing in Speed, three male and three female: Matteo Zurloni, Sam Watson, Josh Bruyns, Emma Hunt, Lijuan Deng and Piper Kelly.

Both Boulder podiums from last year will be back in Salt Lake City. The USA, Japan and China all send large teams to Salt Lake City, with 38 USA competitors, 20 Japanese and 18 Chinese.

With many top athletes skipping for the OQS, we will have an opportunity to see who is up and coming, with a greater chance for many to reach their first semi-final or final.

What you need to know

Where USA Climbing Training Centre, Lake City, Utah, USA

All times are local Mountian Time (UTC-6).

Eurosport, IFSC YouTube Channel, and local broadcasters J-Sports in Japan and TV Azteca in Latin America. You can watch replays 24 hours after the event on the Olympic Channel.

Top Contenders

Despite a reduced field, with 123 competing in Boulder and 71 in Speed, the whole of the 2023 Boulder podiums are returning.

SLC 2023 Boulder World Cup Podiums Return

Natalia Grossman, Oriane Bertone, and Brooke Raboutou celebrating with their 2023 SLC World Cup medals
2023 SLC World Cup female podium © Slobodan Miskovic/IFSC.

We get to see Natalia Grossman, Oriane Bertone and Brooke Raboutou, the 2023 SLC World Cup podium, compete for the first time this year.

Grossman struggled last year while recovering from stomach issues from food poisoning and overtraining in 2022. Despite this, she won two World Cups, the Boulder Series overall and an Olympic ticket.

Oriane Bertone is going from strength to strength as she starts her third competitive season on the open circuit despite being only 19. Last year, she won her first World Cup in Prague, ahead of Janja Garnbret, no less, the World Championship Boulder silver medal and her Olympic ticket at the Laval European Qualifier. Bertone and Grossman are the only athletes to beat Garnbret in a Boulder World Cup since 2018.

Brooke Raboutou won her first World Cup in Hatchioji, Japan, at the start of last season, along with bronze medals in Seoul, Salt Lake City and the Boulder World Championship. She just missed out on an Olympic ticket at the Bern World Championship, finishing fourth and at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier, finishing second.

Tomoa Narasaki, Sorato Anraku, and Toby Roberts celebrating with their 2023 SLC World Cup medals
2023 male SLC World Cup podium © Slobodan Miskovic/IFSC

We also see the male podium returns: Tomoa Narasaki, Sorato Anraku, and Toby Roberts. All three qualified for the Olympics last year. Anraku and Roberts won their first Boulder World Cups last year. Narsaki won his seventh in Keqiao ahead of Anraku last month. Roberts finished fourth in Keqiao, just behind Hannes Van Duysen, before going on to win the Lead World Cup in Wujiang.

With the Boulder World Cups spaced around the Olympics, the only other Boulder World Cup before the Olympics is in Innsbruck, which many athletes will be attending. We could get to see the battle for the male Boulder World Cup Series between these three play out.

Olympic Speedsters Return

In the speed competition, we again see a strong contingent of Olympians, including Emma Hunt, who set a new Pan American record at the North America Cup (NAC) last weekend of 6.30, only 0.05 seconds off the World Record.

We see Natalia and Aleksandra Kalucka, who are registered to compete before heading off to Shanghai for the OQS to compete for the final Speed spot for Poland. Natalia has the faster personal record, 6.45 to Aleksandra’s 6.58, and won the overall Speed World Cup Series last year. Aleksandra won the Speed World Cup Series in 2022 and has 1 more World Cup medal than her sister.

We will see Lijuan Deng, who won the Speed World Cup in Wujiang last year and finished third overall. Deng won the Asian Olympic Qualifier last year in Jakarta to secure her place at the Olympics. Deng also holds the Asian Continental record of 6.47.

The Olympians also dominate the male speed event, with most of the Indonesian and Chinese teams skipping the event to focus on the Shanghai OQS event.

Sam Watson celebrating his World Record win © Nakajima Kazushige/IFSC.

World Record holder Sam Watson will be competing on home turf after recently moving to Salt Lake City. We will also see 2023 World Champion Matteo Zurloni and World Cup medalist Ryo Omasa.

While Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi was registered for the event, she will not be competing. Jinbao Long, Long Cao, and Rahmad Adi Mulyono will also not be competing.

Who else to watch out for

In Boulder, keep an eye out for the French team, including Selma Elhadj Mimoune, who won the Youth Boulder World Championship last year and finished seventh in Salt Lake City. Flavy Cohaut, who finished third in Prague last year, will also be competing, as will Kito Martini, the 2024 French champion.

The USA sends a large team to the World Cup, with 19 competing in Boulder and 19 in Speed. We will see Annie Sanders, Kyra Condie, Colin Duffy and Zach Galla competing in Boulder. In Speed, Merritt Ernsberger, Zach Hammer (who reached the final in Keqiao), and Noah Bratschi (2021 World Champion silver medal). We will also see John Brosler (former USA record holder and champion), Piper Kelly (2024 Olympian), and Sophia Curcio competing in Speed.

The Japanese also send a large team alongside Tomoa Narasaki and Sorato Anraku. We will see Anon Matsufuji, who reached her fourth final in Keqiao, and Mao Nakamura, who won the 2024 Japan Boulder Cup. Yoshiyuki Ogata, Sohta Amagasa, Meichi Narasaki and Satone Yoshida have all been confirmed to compete at the event.

Yannick Flohé, Simon Lorenzi, and Madison Richardson, who finished seventh in Keqiao, are also registered for the World Cup.

Tegwan Oates from South Africa is competing in both Boulder and Speed. She is the only athlete to compete in both disciplines in the OQS. Grace Crowley, Australia’s top-speed climber, will also be competing and will be looking at breaking Sarah Tetzlaff’s new Oceania Speed record of 8.61.

Other Speed athletes to look for include Lukas Knapp, Long Cao, Luca Robbiati, Ryo Omasa, Josh Bruyns (Olympian), and Yaroslav Tkach.

Max Milne and Jim Pope from Great Britain and Jenny Buckley from Slovenia were registered for Boulder but will not be competing.

What you didn’t know you needed to know

Early map of the city layout of Salt Lake City
By E. Martin, Photographer, East Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. - From Library of Congress [1]. Courtesy Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602., Public Domain,

The streets of Salt Lake City are designed in a grid design centred around Temple Square, where the Mormon Temple is located. The north-south axis is Main Street, and the east-west axis is South Temple Street. All addresses are co-ordinates within the system.

The USA Training Centre is located at 451 West and 700 South in the grid, meaning it is 7 blocks south and 4 blocks west of Temple Square.

Update May 3: Updated to reflect the athletes who are confined as attending.
Update May 4: Added links to YouTube live streams (which are subject to geographic restrictions).

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Inside Climbing.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.