Salt Lake-Based USA Climbing Team Excited For Olympic Debut

Jul 24, 2019, 12:33 AM | Updated: 12:34 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The USA Climbing team recently moved their headquarters to Salt Lake City, which is fortunate in more ways than one. The best climber happens to be from Murray.

Climbing is one of the new Olympic Sports for Tokyo 2020.

Nathaniel Coleman loves figuring things out. You can see it in his eyes and with his head motions as he studies possible routes up a climbing wall.

“I’ve been doing this for like 12 or 13 years,” said Coleman.

One thing he never could have anticipated when he first started climbing, though, was the possibility of becoming an Olympic athlete in the sport.

“Probably, if you would’ve asked me six years ago if it was going to be in the Olympics, I probably would’ve told you no,” he said with a laugh.

Climbing will make its Olympic debut with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Coleman, who is from Murray, is one of the best climbers on Team USA.

“Growing up here, we’re surrounding by rock,” he said. “All different kinds of rock. Some fantastic training centers as well. That made me the climber I am today. I mean, if I wasn’t born here, I don’t know if I would have even found the sport.”

He spends a lot of his time at the USA Climbing training center in downtown Salt Lake City. USA Climbing moved its headquarters to Utah last year from Boulder, Colorado.

It’s the first summer sport based in a traditionally winter sport city.

“Coming to Salt Lake City, this Olympic city, knows what Olympic sport is,” said Marc Norman, CEO of USA Climbing. “They take pride in that and all the excitement around Salt Lake and the Olympics spirit.”

High performance Olympic sports is something Norman is used to.

He comes from the speedskating world, worked for the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, but as a climber himself, he fell in love with the opportunity to build an Olympic team from the ground up.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved in the sport,” said Norman. “We’re growing immensely across the country. The buzz around the Olympics and what that means.”

For climbing, it means more exposure.

USA Climbing

Climbing will be a new Olympic sport in Tokyo! Here’s some Team USA practice with Nathaniel Coleman.Alex Cabrero KSL

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lots of people already participate in the sport, but not many think of it as an Olympic sport.

Officials from the Paris 2024 organizing team have already said climbing will be included in its summer games.

Many see climbing as the next popular Olympic sport, similar to how snowboarding took off some 20 years ago, making household names of stars like Shaun White and Chloe Kim.

“Well, we have to win if we wanted that kind of celebrity,” said Coleman with a laugh.

There are only 20 spots for men and 20 spots for women climbers in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

There’s no guarantee a US climber will qualify.

It all depends on point standings during competitions, with the first qualifier in Tokyo in August. 

Coleman is hoping to be a part of the Olympic experience.

He just has to figure out a way to make it up.

“I would feel honor to represent my country,” he said. “It would feel pretty incredible. And to do it in the first Olympics ever with the climbing, it would be historic.”

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Salt Lake-Based USA Climbing Team Excited For Olympic Debut