Calling all young athletes …
Photo: Andrew Taylor

Calling all young athletes …

Posted by: Shauna Farnell

There are more chances for you to shine at the 2022 GoPro Mountain Games

It’s not too late (yet) to sign up kids to compete against their peers this week

During the 20-year run of the Mountain Games, there has been no shortage of child stars. From pre-teens who have smoked the entire women’s field of elite runners (check out 12-year-old Alayna Szuch winning the 2016 Aprés 5K by more than 4 minutes) to pint-sized climbers crawling up the Youth Climbing wall like it was a playground jungle gym to local teens like Sullivan Middaugh holding stride with if not surpassing his father, Xterra triathlete Hall of Famer Josiah Middaugh.

However, not every youth athlete can or wants to take on the Mountain Games’ superhero grown-ups. For the 2022 Mountain Games, there are plenty of opportunities for active kids in every sport and at every level to compete against their peers.

This week, there are not one but TWO Youth Climbing competitions, each welcoming the next wave of vertically inclined athletes in five age categories, ranging from 18- to 19-year-old juniors to children 11 and younger.

For young pedalers, two-wheel competitions have brand new opportunities at the 2022 Mountain Games, including a Kids Bike Race on Saturday featuring a longer course for children 12 and younger and short courses for children 6 and under as well as youth categories (14 and under and 15-18) in the first-of-its-kind GoPro Dual Slalom event.

In running competitions, there is now a 12 and under category in the Adidas Terrex Aprés 5K and in water action, there is once again a youth category (17 and under) for the Yeti Downriver SUP Sprint.

Many of these events previously offered only “open” categories for all ages of competitors or “19 and under” categories, in which children other than those showing early signs of being superheroes struggled to size up.

“There’s always a challenge for those ages to feel good about competing against older kids or adults,” Josiah Middaugh says. “Generally and athletically speaking, there’s a big difference between a 15-year-old and a 19-year-old. I think these new categories could definitely attract some of the mountain kids who have always wanted to compete and other kids who want to come out to participate.”

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