What are US Fencing Junior Olympics and How to QualifyThe Junior Olympics are not just a little Olympic Games!

The name is just a nice name (and many US sports use this name for their respective championships). A nice name that confuses people who are new to the sport, but again this competition is not intimately tied to the big Olympic games that happen every four years.

If you’re new to fencing, then something you probably want to know pretty quickly is what all of these big championships are. What is the big deal with these competitions? How can someone new to the sport make sense of them? The Junior Olympics for fencing is totally different than the other championships that we have for fencers. There are two other championships – Summer Nationals and the Division 1 Championship.

  • The Division 1 Championship, usually held in April, are exactly what their name suggests – the championship of the main senior division (the one that qualifies fencers for World Championship and Olympic Games).
  • US Fencing Summer Nationals is the common name of the biggest fencing tournament in the world. During a 10 day period in July fencers compete for the championship title in all other age and skill categories, for example, youth and veteran national champions are crowned at Summer Nationals.

However the Junior Olympics take place in the winter and, while they are a national championship, they are completely a separate national championship.

Who Fences at the Fencing Junior Olympics?

The fencing Junior Olympics are for cadets and juniors. Fencers have to be at least 13 years old to fence in this competition. From there, they must qualify either as a cadet or as a junior in order to participate.

Qualification changes a bit from year to year as US Fencing tweaks their standards to improve them and meet the new demands of the growing sport, but there are three ways to qualify:

These points are earned at competitions that are held around the country. How many points are earned will depend on where the fencer finishes in a competition – the higher the finish, the higher the respective points. You must either earn a certain number of either kind of points, or be at a certain level of points or a certain rank within the competition. These  numbers change periodically and you should always keep an eye on the yearly updates on the qualification path that USFA publishes.

Here are the 2018 qualification requirements for the Junior Olympics in fencing. Again, remember that these will change slightly from year to year.

CADET

  • Fencers must meet eligibility (i.e., born on 2001-2004 or be on Y14 National Points List if younger) AND
  • Be on the Cadet National Rolling Point Standings (NRPS) at the regular fee entry deadline OR
  • Earn at least 110 regional points on either Cadet or Junior Regional Point Standing (Total points = an athlete’s top 2 point results) OR
  • Be in the top 8 of the Youth 14 national rolling point standings (NRPS) at the regular fee entry deadline OR
  • Be in the top 25% (round up) of their division’s Cadet JO qualifying competition OR
  • Be in the top 25% (round up) of their division’s Junior JO qualifying competition

JUNIOR

  • Fencers must meet age eligibility (i.e., born on 1998-2004 or be on Cadet National Point List) AND
  • Be on the Junior national rolling point standings (NRPS) at the regular fee entry deadline OR
  • Be in the top 16 of the Cadet national rolling point standings (NRPS) at the regular fee entry deadline OR
  • Earn at least 110 regional points on the Junior Regional Point Standing (Total points = an athlete’s top 2 point results) OR
  • Be in the top 25% (round up) of their division’s Junior JO qualifying competition

If you meet those requirements by the end date that is required for that year (which is January 10, 2018 for JO’s in February 2018), then you’re in and you can participate in the Junior Olympics!

There is also a team event for Junior fencers at the Junior Olympics, but we won’t go into deep detail here on that. Just be aware that it’s possible to go as your club team if you’re a Junior.

Timing of the Fencing Junior Olympics

The Junior Olympics for fencing are held during the middle of February, on President’s Day weekend. It’s a nice long weekend and a good time to have the championship for that reason.

The reason for the timing is because this is the last qualifying event to establish a team of cadets and juniors to go to the Junior and Cadet World Championship. That event is typically held in April of each year, so naturally the qualification has to happen before that. This is THE reason that the Junior Olympics are held almost a half a year ahead of the other major competitions, which happen during the summer.

With this alignment, the age cut off for the Junior Olympics is totally aligned with the international championships and with the world championships. Those age dates are very, very important because they determine which fencers are fencing against one another! If this didn’t happen this way, then  starting right after the competition the aged out cadets and juniors would not be able to participate fully in the next year round to qualify for the World Championships.

Division 1 typically has a championship in April. This happens for the same reason – this is the last qualifying event for seniors to get on the National Team for World Championship that happens in July or August, OR to go on to the Olympic Games if it’s a year of Olympic competition.

The rest of ages (youth, veterans) and divisions (2, 3, 1A) have their championship events at Summer Nationals. Veterans also have their last qualifying event at Summer Nationals championship, but they have a championship later in the fall and thus can have their qualifying event at Summer Nationals.

As you can see, the reason that the Junior Olympics are SO different in timing from the rest of the fencing championships are because they are an event that sends fencers to the Cadet and Junior World Championship in April. That one change means that lots of things change!