The third UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup event of the 2018 season heralded a change of leadership in the women’s lead competition and three new gold medal winners for the 2018 season. Following dramatic events in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and Rabenstein, Italy, Hohhot’s purpose-built venue offered exhibitions of stylish climbing in sub-zero temperatures.
In the women’s speed competition Russia’s Natalia Belyaeva claimed gold after recovering from a first climb deficit to defeat compatriot Ekaterina Koschceeva by a combined 23.24 seconds to 23.54 in the final duel. Maria Tolokonina took bronze with victory over Alena Vlasova. In a highly-competitive field the three rounds of the World Tour have heralded three different gold medallists. Despite finishing fifth in Hohhot, Ekaterina Feoktistova heads the overall rankings with a six point advantage over Koschceeva. The highest placing non-Russian athlete is France’s Marion Thomas in ninth.
The men’s finals also witnessed the third different gold medallist of the season. Ivan Spitsyn defeated Maxim Vlasov 16.95 to 18.09 this despite Vlasov’s stunning second climb of 8.02 seconds. Last weekend’s winner in Rabenstein Anton Nemov continued his fine form with bronze medal victory over Nikolai Kuzovlev. Victory for the 24-year old Spitsyn elevates him to second place, 18 points behind Nemov. In the men’s speed competition Russia’s dominance is less pronounced with Iran’s Mohammadreza Korouyeh Safdarian and Rad Beheshti Mohsen occupying sixth and seventh place.
Rewatch action from the speed competition below.
In the lead competition, South Korean athletes continue to dominate the women’s rankings. After two golds for Hannarai Song it was the turn of the World Champion in lead Woonseon Shin to claim victory. Song was absent from the competition in Hohhot. As the final athlete to climb, Shin was set the task of topping the route in a faster time than Russia’s Maria Tolokonina. This she achieved with typical grace and athleticism. Tolokonina took silver following two bronze medal finishes. Ireland’s Eimir McSwiggan, main picture, concluded an impressive weekend of climbing with her first medal of the season. Shin now leads the standings on 260 points with Tolokonina 50 points behind. Song will have the chance to reassert her dominance next weekend in Cheongsong.
Gold medallist in the season opener in Saas-Fee, Alexey Dengin was the star performer in the men’s competition rectifying a disappointing weekend in Rabenstein. Dengin was the only athlete to top. Maxim Tomilov took a second silver of the season and Nikolai Kuzovlev bronze. Leader going into the weekend, Iran’s Mohammadreza Korouyeh Safdarian had to settle for fifth. Safdarian’s lead is now just five points over Tomilov. Dengin is a further point behind.
Rewatch action from the lead competition below.
The 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing season is partnered by The North Face Korea.
Rewatch the best of the action from Hohhot here.
Next weekend, 9-11 February, Cheongsong hosts the penultimate event of the season. South Korea is one of the world’s ice climbing hotbeds with a passionate crowd always adding lustre to the event. The competition will also act as a showcase for the sport and its 2022 Olympic ambition, taking place on the weekend the 2018 Olympic Winter Games start in the same country.