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The stage is set for the 2021 Youth Skyrunning World Championships

It’s all uphill at the Gran Sasso Vertical, here the first Youth Skyrunning World Championships, 2016. ©Discover Abruzzo

The stage is set. It’s curtains up, lights, camera, action, plenty of action, forecast at next weekend’s 2021 Youth Skyrunning World Championships where today’s young athletes and future stars of the sport will compete from July 30 to August 1 in L’Aquila, near Rome, Italy.

For the first time, after the 2020 cancellation, the fifth edition of the Championships will be open to 15-year-olds, a decision made at the 2019 General Assembly.

Despite their young age and lack of experience, their enthusiasm is sky-high. This year, 133 athletes from 19 countries are ready to do battle on the international stage in the VERTICAL and SKY disciplines and for the COMBINED title.

A total of 54 medals are at stake, distributed across three age group categories: Youth A (15-17), Youth B (18-20) and U23 (21-23). Individual medals will be awarded to the winners of each event.

Teams from near and far are converging on Gran Sasso, the highest mountain in the Apennines, which will host the Championships for the fourth time. They are: Andorra, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.

US Skyrunning will be back with their team for the fourth time. Here, Mikey Connelly at the YWC 2018. ©Discover Abruzzo

A small but diverse group of American skyrunners are ready to face the elements at Gran Sasso. We are from the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Wasatch mountains of Utah, the Sierras of California, the Cascades of Washington, the Chugiaks of Alaska… We’re looking forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones,” is the heartfelt message from US Skyrunning, represented by John and Ryan Kerrigan attending the Championships for the fourth time with their team.

Dai Matsumoto, President of the Japan Skyrunning Association, stated, “We are in the middle of the Tokyo Olympics, but we’re looking forward to your support for the Japan youth team – ready to challenge the Italian sky!”

Spain is of course the favourite for the medal count. In 2019 they secured the gold for the fourth consecutive time. Team manager and ISF VP, Rogelio Macías, commented, “The FEDME team will attend with great enthusiasm like every year. We have a new team with very young athletes who are facing their first international experience,” like 15-year-old Gabriela Lasalle who will be competing. “The team also combines the experience of athletes who know the course very well and will show an example. Every year the level is increasing and I’m sure that new young skyrunners will give us a great show!”

For some, especially a 15-year-old, the experience of racing on the international stage will certainly be new, even a little daunting. Italy’s Lorenzo Milesi celebrated his 15th birthday just ten days ago. “It’s going to be challenging,” he said, “and I don’t want to let down those that brought me this far. For sure, it will be a great experience to test myself against athletes from other nations. I’m aiming to run both races – if I can find the strength on Sunday…!” An ambitious start. A potential new champion?

Dr Giulio Sergio Roi, President of the ISF Youth Commission, congratulates Andorran Oriol Olm on his medal, 2019. ©Discover Abruzzo

President of the ISF Youth Commission, Dr Giulio Sergio Roi, commented, “On behalf of the International Skyrunning Federation, the Italian Skyrunning Federation and the Organising Committee, I’m honoured to welcome all the participants to the 2021 Skyrunning Youth World Championships.”

“Despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, we’re finally able to organise the event and ensure the maximum safety for the competitors from nearly 20 countries around the world. I’m sure that the young members of the skyrunning family will once again be an example, inspiring everyone with safety measures, friendship, and fair competition. It will be a great Championships and a great experience for all!”

The top three medallists at the recent 2020 Skyrunning World Championships held in Spain, all have one thing in common. They are all three past Youth World Champions: Japan’s Ruy Ueda, Roberto Delorenzi from Switzerland and Spain’s Daniel Osanz, who will be back at the weekend no doubt adding another medal to his collection.

Norwegian Live Sollid, just 15 years-old and member of the Nordic Team, took the silver at the 2019 YWC. ©Discover Abruzzo

Huge congratulations are in store for ISF Nordic Member, Katrine Villumsen, who is unable to attend the events this year, although Norwegian, Swedish and Danish runners will compete. She has another appointment this weekend…with a baby on the way. The father is triple skyrunning world champion, Stian Angermund. Unless the age limit drops, already they are looking ahead for an entry in the 2036 Youth Skyrunning World Championships…!

The events will kick off on Friday afternoon with the Gran Sasso Vertical, 3.8 km and 1,033m vertical climb that reaches Campo Imperatore at 2,136m altitude. Records are there to be broken. The fastest times were set by two Spaniards: Paula Cabrerizo in 41’59” for women and Daniel Osanz, 34’52” for men.

After a day of rest and celebration of national colours at the opening ceremony on Saturday, Sunday will be the turn of the SKY discipline. While Youth A athletes will run on a reduced course, Youth B and U23 will test the tough full course of the Gran Sasso SkyRace®, 23 km and 2,369m vertical climb. The records to beat on the full course belong to Spain’s Claudia Sabata in 3h04’28”and Switzerland’s Roberto Delorenzi, 2h23’16”.

The Gran Sasso SkyRace® 2019 with Poland’s Blazej Knutelski. ©Discover Abruzzo

The Youth Skyrunning World Championships, held annually since 2016, are aimed at developing and promoting the sport for the future and are supported in part by contributions from ISF members. The Championships are organised in collaboration with the Italian Skyrunning Federation (FISKY). WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out.

Tune in on Sunday and follow the live tracking here.

Some familiar faces with a big medal count will once more be on the start line:


  • Oriol Olm (AND) gold medal and Youth A VK record holder
  • Mattia Tanara (ITA) silver medal in 2019 and 5th 2020 Skyrunning World Championships SKY
  • Mattia Bertoncini (ITA) 4 medals
  • Marco Salvadori (ITA) 4 medals
  • Per-Christian Grieg (NOR) 2 medals
  • Diogo Gomes (POR) 1 medal
  • Albert Perez (ESP) 4 medals
  • Daniel Osanz (ESP) 6 medals and a silver medal 2020 Skyrunning World Championships VERTICAL
  • Nicolas Molina (ESP) 9 medals
  • Marco Delorenzi (SUI) silver medal


  • Andrea Sinfreu (AND) 6 medals
  • Luca Nemeth (HUN) 6 medals
  • Luna De Bruin (NED) 3 medals
  • Juliana Oliveira (POR) 3 medals
  • Laia Gonfaus (ESP) 3 medals
  • Irati Zubizarreta (ESP) 3 medals