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Utah climbers focus on making Team USA one year out from Paris Olympics

Jul 26, 2023, 6:44 PM | Updated: 8:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony is exactly one year away and Utah climber Natalie Grossman doesn’t even want to think about it.

“Not really,” Grossman said. “I am just so focused right now on the upcoming competitions.”

However, her competition next week or the one after just might be enough for Grossman to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Just don’t tell her. 

“I just have to trust the process,” she said with a smile. “I would probably be pretty speechless. I don’t know. I mean, it would be an honor and it would be really cool, especially watching the Olympics every summer growing up.”

Grossman is currently ranked number one in the world for climbing’s boulder discipline.

For the Paris Olympics, boulder and lead will be combined for one medal.

Speed climbing will be its own medal discipline.

The three disciplines were combined as one for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when climbing made its Olympic debut.

Breaking boulder and lead into individual disciplines will give climbers like Grossman a better shot of getting a medal for Team USA.

“It’s definitely beneficial for, I would say, most athletes. Many climbers are not the best at speed,” Grossman said. “The speed climbers are very specialized in speed and are great at doing that.” 

Grossman moved to Salt Lake City to train at USA Climbing headquarters and feels the overall team has only become better.

“I would say in the past three years, after COVID, the team has definitely improved. We kind of used to be the underdogs but now you see us in the finals of almost every World Cup,” Grossman said.

US climbers won’t sneak up on anybody during the Paris Games, not after three Team USA climbers made the finals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Salt Lake City’s very own Nathaniel Coleman won the Silver Medal.

Those 2020 Games were delayed until 2021 because of the COVID pandemic, which means athletes had less than three years to train for Paris instead of the normal four.

“It is pretty insane that the Olympics feels like it’s right around the corner now,” Team USA climber Jesse Grupper said.

Grupper is one of the climbers hoping to make the US Olympic Team.

Having less time means training harder and faster to be one of the best in the world sooner.

“This has been a dream for me since I was a little kid,” Grupper said with a smile. “I would also watch swimming because climbing wasn’t in the Olympics back then. I would be doing my floor workouts while watching Michael Phelps on the big screen, so yeah, pretty exciting stuff for sure.”

Now, in one year, it might be Phelps watching Grupper compete.

You can catch the Paris Opening Ceremony and the 2024 Olympics on KSL TV.

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Utah climbers focus on making Team USA one year out from Paris Olympics