One of most Europe’s tallest and most iconic ice structures, located in the magnificent valley of Champagny le Haut (1500m) in the French Alps will provide the setting for the penultimate stage of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup season. With just the final, deciding round in Denver, Colorado on 22-24 February ahead, this weekend’s competition is a crucial opportunity for athletes to put themselves in contention for overall ranking podium positions. And for others to win a first gold medal of the season.
Champagny-en-Vanoise will host the competition from 7-9 February. Lead semi-finals will be held on Friday evening, 20:30 local time. Speed and Lead finals take place on Saturday at 10:15 and 16:00 respectively. These three stages of competition will be livestreamed on the UIAA Facebook and YouTube channels as well as on partner channels including EXTREME and The Olympic Channnel. Livestreaming embed codes can be found at the foot of this release. The 2019 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour is partnered by Outdoor Research, the event in Champagny organised in collaboration with la Fédération Française des clubs alpins et de montagne (FFCAM) and La Plagne resort. The full programme can be found here.
Men’s Lead: Nikolai Kuzovlev heads the overall standings having won three out of the four events. Yannick Glatthard of Switzerland claimed the other gold medal in Saas-Fee during round 3. Kuzovlev enjoys a 133-point lead over his closest challenger Heeyong Park. The South Korean last won a UIAA Ice Climbing gold medal in Champagny when he became World Champion in 2017. He will need a similar performance to put pressure on the Russian leader. Local hopes will rest on French athletes Nathan Clair and Louna Ladevant. Clair, in a breakthrough season, has a silver and bronze to his name while Ladevant, one of the World Tour’s youngest athletes, came fifth in Rabenstein last week. Overall Standings.
Women’s Lead: Maria Tolokonina, like Kuzovlev, has three gold medals from four events and like her teammate, only failed to top the podium in Saas-Fee. World Champion Woonseon Shin won that competition and currently sits 56 points behind Tolokonina. Hannarai Song, Ireland’s Eimir McSwiggan and Finland’s Enni Bertling make up the top five. Young Swiss athlete Sina Goetz, who has never been out of the top five in the events she has featured at, is climbing the standings rapidly. The leading local French athlete is Marion Thomas in ninth. Overall Standings. A profile on the all-conquering Maria Tolokonina can be found below.
Men’s Speed: Anton Nemov, three wins in four World Cups, appears to get stronger each week. He leads Russian teammate Vladislav Iurlov, gold in Beijing, by 59 points. Reigning World Champion Vladimir Kartashev is seeking to end a two-year World Cup gold medal drought while Kuzovlev currently sits in third place having taken a silver and two bronze medals. The top performing non-Russian athlete is Iran’s Rad Mohsen Beheshti. Will this be his medal week? Overall Standings.
Women’s Speed: The women’s speed is the most open competition. Four events, four different gold medal winners. The most consistent performer is Ekaterina Koshcheeva, winner in Beijing, and never out of the top three. She leads Tolokonina by 50 points. Ekaterina Feoktistova won in Rabenstein last weekend while the lightning fast Valeriia Bogdan has also tasted success. The USA’s Kendra Stritch, three finals in four World Cups, will look for a strong performance ahead of her ‘homecoming’ in Denver. Overall Standings.
UIAA YouTube Livestream URL & Embed Codes
Lead Semi-Finals: Friday 8 February, 20:30 local time, 19:30 GMT
URL – https://youtu.be/c7xGdH3iaTw
Embed codes – <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/c7xGdH3iaTw” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Speed Finals, Saturday 9 February, 10:30 local time, 09:30 GMT
Embed codes – <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/yDRAi2JReTA” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Lead Finals, Saturday 9 February, 16:00
Embed codes – <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvboHN9trpQ” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Main photo: UIAA/Patrick Schwienbacher