The stage is set for the second instalment of the 2020 UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup season as the sport makes its annual visit to Cheongsong, South Korea. This weekend, 10-12 January, and with the support of the Korean Alpine Federation, a decisive round of action lies ahead. Partisan support and outstanding hospitality is always guaranteed in the resort of Cheongsong, as athletes test themselves against the challenging and technical ice structure set in front of an impressive natural ice wall. The event is the second of three World Cups held this season. For athletes hoping to win the overall season classification, there is no room for error. Outdoor Research is the title sponsor of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour.
Around 100 athletes from 17 different countries are set to compete across two days of competition with both lead and speed finals on Sunday 12 January. Last season’s event offered a fascinating contest between the host nation and the Russian team. The incredibly consistent Maria Tolokonina took the women’s gold medals, holding off local favourite Woonseon Shin in lead. In the men’s competition, Russia’s Nikolai Kuzovlev saw off a spirited challenge from the South Korean pair of HeeYong Park and Lee Younggeon in lead, before succumbing to compatriot Anton Nemov in the final of the speed event. The host nation will once again have a formidable 20-strong team in attendance. The competition will also see a return to action from one of last year’s young stars. The 21-year-old Swiss climbing sensation Yannick Glatthard will look to deliver the form which saw him perform impressively to win gold in Saas-Fee and Denver last year.
Cheongsong will be seeking to build on the momentum created during round 1 in Changchun City, China last weekend. As well as witnessing some clashes between familiar faces, there were also some young athletes laying down a marker for the rest of the campaign. Woonseon Shin got the better of long-time rival Tolokonina in the women’s lead event, something she will be looking to replicate in her home country. While the Russian also had to settle for a silver medal in the speed event, her teammates made a clean sweep of the medals with Valeriia Bogdan claiming the gold and Alena Vlasova the bronze medal. In the men’s events, it was of little surprise to see the formidable defending champion Anton Nemov win the speed discipline from Nikita Glazyrin, with fellow Russian, Kuzovlev claiming the bronze. However, the lead event saw a new winner with rising star 19-year-old Louna Ladevant of France claiming a historic gold medal. A return to form from Iran’s Mohammadreza Safdarian saw him finish second, while Heeyong Park added to his impressive list of podium finishes by finishing in third place.
One of the notable aspects of the event in Changchun was the impressive performance of the French team. As well as Ladevant’s victory in the men’s lead, Marion Thomas produced a thrilling performance to take the bronze medal behind the formidable pair of Shin and Tolokonina. A number of the French athletes prepared for the season with an extensive ten-day winter training camp in freezing conditions in Kirov, Russia. Four gruelling training sessions a day, held between 08:00 – 21:00, which included training on the massively challenging, newly built steep wall certainly paid dividends for the French athletes who were quick to praise and acknowledge the role of the local Russian climbers for their help and advice.
Details on the livestreaming timings, links and embed codes can be found below. Register to the UIAA YouTube channel to receive alerts about live coverage.
11 January, 17:00 local time (09:00 CET)
12 January. 11:00 local time (03:00 CET)
12 January, 14:30 local time (06:30 CET)
The event page for Cheongsong can be viewed here
The full programme from Cheongsong can be downloaded here
Details on registered athletes and live results are available here
Main photo: Action from Changchun, credit: UIAA/Nathan Kutcher
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