Changes Coming in 2025 to the Youth Categories

May 13, 2024

At the 2024 IFSC General Assembly, in Santiago, Chile, the IFSC and its members (the National Federations – NF) approved a change in the Youth Age Categories that will take effect in 2025.

The Youth eligibility will shift as follows:

As a National Federation member of the IFSC, Climbing Escalade Canada must align with this change. We will therefore implement this new age eligibility in our 2024-2025 Competition Season. Our 2025 Youth Regional Championships and 2025 Youth National Championships will showcase the revised age categories as listed above.

What was the rationale for this decision?

The process started with a decision made at the 2023 IFSC Assembly, in Singapore, where the NF voted in favor of raising the World Cup eligibility (Senior category) from 16 to 17 years old. The rationale for this decision is a desire to safeguard athletes who start competing at a very young age and experience a lot of negative performance pressure. International organizations must ensure that athletes competing at this level have the physical and emotional abilities to sustain the pressure. Many injuries and disorders have been identified in younger athletes on this stage, steaming from an unsafe competition environment and pathway. This is a similar policy that has been implemented in other sports, like gymnastics, for example.

Ultimately, the Senior category age eligibility will likely be raised to 18, the age of majority in most countries, but a progressive approach that phases in these new age categories was preferred by the members of the IFSC, raising the age by one year this year, and likely again in a subsequent year.

With this new regulation coming into play next year, the question of how to manage eligibility in youth categories was raised: do we keep them as is, with first year Youth A not eligible at WC, but second year Youth A eligible at WC; or do we “shift” the categories all together? The second implementation option was approved by the members of the IFSC at the 2024 Assembly in Santiago.

This is how the categories will shift. Youth A and Junior athletes will still be allowed to compete in Senior events, but the “start age” of these categories will change by 1 year.

2025 Youth World Championships

The other important decision that the IFSC made regarding youth is a modification to the Youth World Championships’ category. As of 2025, only Youth B and Youth A categories will be included in the event, removing the Junior category.

The rationale behind this decision is related to the ability to manage the event – the Youth World Championships currently includes 3 disciplines, 2 gender, 3 categories, and 3 quotas per country, for a possible 54 participants per country. With over 100 countries currently members of the IFSC, you can imagine that this quickly becomes unmanageable.

Multiple options were considered to reduce the scope of this event, including reducing the number of participants per country. In the end, the IFSC decided to remove the Junior Category from the event, justifying this decision with the many other opportunities these athletes have: World Cups, Continental Cups, National events, etc.

With this in mind, CEC is also struggling with events that are currently very hard to manage due to their size. The Youth Regional Events includes 4 categories, and most of the 10 provinces and 3 territories send athletes to these events. How can we increase opportunities to participate, but not reduce the quality of the event itself? The CEC Board of Directors decided to remove the smallest category from the events, the Junior division. These athletes will be selected from Provincial events directly to Nationals, while Youth C, B, and A (except the top 5 as currently in place) will perform in the Regional events.

Here is a summary of what the 2025 Youth Season will look like:

I am a youth athlete, how does this decision impact me in 2025?

The impact of this decision is such that each age category will basically see a “third year” in order to shift the categories forward. It’s almost like we are “duplicating” this year’s category and replicating them next year (age-wise).

This table shows what category an athlete is (or was and will be) based on their year of birth:

 

In conclusion

We understand that this may be frustrating for some athletes, knowing you’ll be spending a third year in your current category, or seeing your National eligibility postponed for one year… However, we strongly believe that the safeguard of young participants has to be at the forefront of every decision made by our International Federation, and we salute their leadership on this. A safe sporting environment for all is the primary goal, and healthy youth athletes will stay engaged with the sport they love for much longer!

Any questions on this can be directed to me at [email protected]

Sincerely

Christiane Marceau
YOUR Executive Director

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