(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The 2017 USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge is set to break new records when the world’s largest fencing tournament comes to Salt Lake City from July 1-10.
The 10-day event will draw an estimated 4,222 fencers from 47 states and 428 clubs. With 8,877 entries approved for the event, the tournament could surpass the 12-day 2014 USA Fencing National Championships as the largest fencing tournament in history.
“Salt Lake City has been a great host to USA Fencing athletes and families at Championships and North American Cups over the last two Olympic cycles and we are pleased to have this opportunity to bring the world’s largest fencing tournament to Utah,” said USA Fencing Senior Director of Operations Christine Strong-Simmons (Colorado Springs, Colo.) “We are so excited to partner with Visit Salt Lake and the Utah Sports Commission to make the Summer Nationals an outstanding experience in the host city for the 2002 Olympic Games.”
Competition will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Halls 1-5 with medals awarded daily. All events are free and open to the public.
Click here to view the complete schedule and preliminary seeding.
“It is great having USA Fencing host its national tournament here in Utah,” said Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission. “This event continues to build our brand as ‘The State of Sport’ and we know it will have significant economic impact to our state.”
The USA Fencing National Championships features individual competition in categories from Youth 10 to Veteran +70 with athletes ranging from ages eight to 94. The July Challenge includes Division I, Junior and Cadet individual events as well as a senior team competition. Both tournaments include events in all three weapons: epee, foil and saber.
With the top fencers in the nation competing at the Salt Palace, eight of the 84 events being contested will field more than 200 competitors each. Y14 men’s foil and Junior men’s epee are scheduled to be the largest events of the tournament with 284 and 281 competitors, respectively.
Not only will national titles be awarded in Salt Lake, but the Summer Nationals serves as the final selection tournament for the 2017 Veteran World Championship Team with the top four athletes on the National Team Point Standings in the 50-59, 60-69 and +70 age categories earning the opportunity to represent Team USA.
In addition to the competition taking place in Salt Lake City, nine members of the 2016 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will be in town to train in preparation for the 2017 Senior World Championships which begin in Leipzig, Germany on July 19. The men’s and women’s foil team as well as the women’s epee team will be training in Salt Lake, including:
Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif. / Men’s Foil), 2016 Olympic individual silver medalist and team bronze medalist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif. / Men’s Foil), 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist and three-time Senior World medalist Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y. / Men’s Foil), 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist and 2013 Senior World Champion Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Men’s Foil), 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist and 2015-16 Overall World Cup Champion Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas / Women’s Epee), 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist and three-time individual Pan American Champion Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas / Women’s Epee), 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist and three-time individual Pan American Champion Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky. / Women’s Foil), two-time Olympian and 2011 Senior World bronze medalist Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C. / Women’s Epee), 2016 Olympian and 2015 Pan American Games Team Champion Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y. / Women’s Foil), 2012 Olympian and three-time individual World Cup medalist
The Men’s and Women’s Foil National Teams will be hosting clinics for young fencers on July 7. The next generation of top saber fencers will have a rare opportunity as well when two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) holds a series of clinics between July 7-9.
On July 4, members of the fencing community will celebrate Independence Day at the USA Fencing Hall of Fame Ceremony where Olympians and World Team members will be among those inducted into the 2017 induction class.
Utah also is home to a thriving fencing community with more than 80 athletes from seven clubs competing in their home state.
Among the local athletes to watch are a trio of epee fencers from Schoolhouse Fencing in West Valley City who have each represented Team USA at the Junior and Cadet World Championships. Eighteen-year-old Tatijana Stewart (Ogden, Utah / Junior & Division I) brought home two medals from her debut at the Cadet World Championships in 2016 where she won silver in the individual and gold in the team competition for the best U17 fencers in the world. Wes Johnson (Pleasant View, Utah / Division I) won the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships and went on to earn a fourth place finish at the 2017 Junior Worlds in April. Dylan Nollner (Ogden, Utah / Division I) was the program’s first Junior World Team member, placing in the top 16 in 2012 and going on to earn two-time All-American honors at Duke in 2013 and 2014.
Athletes from Utah Swords Academy Fencing Club, Wasatch Fencing, Utah Fencing Academy, Park City Fencing Academy, JJL Fencing Club and Salle D’ Escrime Utah Valley also will compete in Salt Lake City.