In a positive sign that recovery is indeed approaching, several destinations are declaring victories with the awarding of major Team USA events. With the Olympics still on schedule for this summer in Tokyo, coveted team trials mean recognition and a needed economic jolt for communities. Here is a roundup of the latest news.
High Point Fitness and Climbing in Memphis will host the 2021 USA Climbing National Team Trials March 26 to 30. Athletes will compete in all three disciplines of climbing—Boulder, Lead and Speed—over the course of the five-day competition, with winners moving on to represent the United States in international competitions.
Of note, climbing will make its Olympic debut in Japan, and is also among the listed events at the 2024 Games in Paris.
“This is the first event in our new realigned national calendar, and we are confident that the National Team Trials format will select the best athletes for Team USA,” says John Muse, vice president of sport for USA Climbing. “The beautiful High Point facility is a fantastic venue to kick off our Olympic year.”
No fans will be present for the action as Memphis, the facility and USA Climbing are taking all necessary COVID-19 precautions. The NGB is planning to livestream and broadcast the event.
Fort Worth, Texas, among the destinations that have been able to host events during the pandemic, has added the USA Wrestling Olympic Team Trials to its notable listings. The event will occur at Dickies Arena April 2-3, with competitors’ eyes set toward Tokyo in August.
USA Wrestling originally awarded the trials to Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, with Penn State serving as the host site. Citing a “variety of factors, including current COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and the desire to provide the ability to accommodate all of the participants, staff and fans,” the organization opted to move this year’s event and allow Penn State to host in 2024 before the Paris Games.
Dickies Arena opened in 2019, and scoring such a marquee event is a boon for the facility and the Fort Worth Sports Commission. This will be the second time Texas has hosted the trials, which were in Dallas in 2000.
A limited number of spectators will be allowed in the building, according to a news release.
“Being selected as the host city for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials is a tremendous honor,” says Jason Sands, director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission. “We look forward to working with our hospitality and community partners to provide a safe and memorable experience.”
USA Weightlifting recently announced it is going forward with in-person competition for its 2021 Nike USA Weightlifting North American Open Series 1 and National University Championships in Salt Lake City. The event, set for March 4-7, will also include a virtual component for athletes unable to or uncomfortable with lifting in person.
The NGB is requiring negative test results or documentation regarding COVID-19 recovery (for infection within 90 days of March 1, 2021) to compete. Athletes competing via Zoom also must follow all local safety guidelines.
USA Track & Field
Spokane Sports’ newest facility, The Podium, is off to a fast start generating business for the Pacific Northwest destination. The venue, still under construction, has been awarded the 2022 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships, set to be held Feb. 25-26, 2022. The complex is scheduled for completion this fall.
“We can’t think of a better way to showcase The Podium than with this flagship event for 2022,” says Eric Sawyer, president and CEO of Spokane Sports.
The championships are expected to bring more than $2 million in visitor spending including 2,000 overnight hotel stays. Spokane officials estimate drawing 8,000 fans over the course of the championship weekend. That impact is to say nothing of the media exposure that will surely be generated from 450 elite athletes converging on the destination.
The news marks a welcomed return for indoor track to the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Oregon, did the honors hosting the IAFF World Indoor Championships in 2016.
The Podium’s new marquee feature, a 200-meter six-lane indoor hydraulically banked track, is credited for impressing the USA Track & Field officials.