Sport ClimbingNewsNatalia Grossman

Confident Natalia Grosssman Earns Ticket to Paris 2024

by Tom Kelly

Natalia Grossman celebrates after winning the women's boulder & lead finals at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023 on Oct. 24, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Joe Kusumoto)

SANTIAGO, Chile — Natalia Grossman climbed with confidence and poise from the first boulder and on through the lead wall, to take gold at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023. With the medal, came the ultimate prize of a spot on Team USA for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. USA Climbing teammate Brooke Raboutou took silver, 12 points back.

In the final event of sport climbing’s debut at the Pan American Games, Canadian Alannah Yip took the bronze with Anastasia Sanders finishing fourth.

In the boulders, Grossman came out strong and smooth, topping each of the first three, accumulating 84.3 points – a 14.9 point margin over Raboutou.

“As soon as I did the first boulder, I was like, ‘okay, game on – let's do this!’” said Grossman. “And I think it just set up my round really nicely.”

Grossman was strong throughout the boulder round. Raboutou, after missing the top on boulder one, kept pace through the final three.

Heading over to the lead wall, Grossman needed to falter and Raboutou needed the climb of her life. Raboutou would climb last.

Grossman hit the wall smiling, climbing with purpose. She had one notable challenge but kept powering forward. “There was one point midway where I almost fell,” she said. “I hit a hold with my finger, like it got stuck. But I was able to recompose.”

Once she crested to the upper reaches of the wall her confidence really kicked in. “Once I was on the headwall and got to the 60 point, I was like, ‘okay, I really want to get as high as I can.’ And it's easier for me to fight once I'm on the headwall because it becomes more technical. And I feel I was able to do that.”

With Grossman having hit the 60-point mark, the odds were stacked against Raboutou. She attacked the wall with a vengeance, advancing up onto the headwall with the crowd solidly behind her, passing Grossman’s top mark before her climb ended.

“My goal on the lead climb was to fight as hard as I could,” said Raboutou. “And I can’t be too upset because I did that.”

As hard as she climbed, finishing second took an emotional toll. “I have a lot of feelings right now,” said Raboutou. “This is a hard competition. As excited as I am to be on the podium, it’s an Olympic qualifier and it was only the winner who goes. We all knew this would be pretty devastating for the second place person. Natalia and I have worked very hard and are at a similar level. We knew it would be a battle between us.”

For USA Climbing Head Coach Josh Larson, it came down to little things.

“Tonight was a night of little mistakes making the difference,” he said. “When we came into this event, I knew that it was either one of them taking this spot. And it was really going to come down to a very small mistake. And that's what happened. And it was really hard to catch up to that mistake on Brooke's end. But Brooke climbed that route really, really, really well – she climbed it exceptionally. The best climber on the route tonight!”

Grossman attributed her level of confidence and her success to changes in her own training program over the past few months.

“With Natalia, we focused a little bit more on lead,” said Larson. “But I think the ultimate thing we focused on was just with each training session each day, just really being present in that day – not really thinking about what's coming up or what we did yesterday. We're really, really present-moment thinking. And we trained more lead because we knew that lead meant a lot in this.”

Like her three teammates who had clinched Paris 2024 spots in the previous days, Grossman was ecstatic but using the time to reflect.

“My feelings are just like gratitude and joy for all those people who have been a part of my journey,” she said, “and those who have just been there with me these past few months. I changed a lot up in my life and in training. And to see it pay off, it feels incredible.”

Raboutou still has a very viable pathway to Paris 2024 through the Olympic Qualifying Series next spring. She needs to finish in the top 10 overall across the two events – in Budapest and Shanghai – to get a shot at the Olympics.

Oct. 24, 2023

  1. Natalia Grossman (Boulder, CO) 172.4 (84.3, 88.1)
  2. Brooke Raboutou (Boulder, CO) 165.4 (69.4, 96.3)
  3. Alannah Yip, Canada 128.7 (64.7, 64.4)
  4. Anastasia Sanders (Fort Worth, TX) 115.1 (39.0, 76.1)
  5. Alejandra Contreras, Chile 91.5 (34.5, 57.0)

Women's Speed

Men's Speed

Men's Boulder & Lead

Women's Boulder & Lead

  • Gold - Natalia Grossman
  • Silver - Brooke Raboutou