A few weeks after the 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing season concluded with a dramatic World Cup showdown in Kirov, Russia, the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission met for its annual meeting to reflect on the recent World Tour series and to develop plans for 2019 and beyond. Members from the Commission, including two of the recently-elected athlete representatives, as well as personnel from the UIAA Office and Executive Board gathered in Busteni, Romania at the invitation of Alex Paun, the President of the Romanian Alpine Club.
Record global reach
Rob Adie, UIAA Sports Event Coordinator and Nils Glatthard, UIAA Director of Operations, presented the communication figures from the recent season. Through the livestream of all World Cup competitions, 1.7 million unique views of content were achieved, comprising a total reach of 12.5 million. The majority of views were achieved through the UIAA Facebook channel as well as on other partner platforms like EXTREME and the Olympic Channel. For each event the unique views averaged between 250,000 to 380,000.
The UIAA aims to further develop its production next season with improvements to the already high-quality livestream graphics, production plan and wider spread distribution with an added focus on the production of popular non-live feature content at all of the 2019 events. The UIAA will also develop the current registration and results service.
Reflecting on the World Cup events, the Commission complemented this year’s organisers on their hard work and excellent delivery of competitions while pledging that going forward competitions need to be increasingly athlete-focused and more harmonious in terms of format. For the first time, athlete representatives formed part of the Commission meeting, executing their voting rights.
2018 Season: On the ice
225 athletes representing 26 national federations took part in the 2018 World Tour. South Korean world champion Woonseon Shin claimed the women’s lead title despite fierce competition from compatriot Hannarai Song and Russia’s multi-talented Maria Tolokonina. The men’s crown was claimed by Maxim Tomilov, rewarded for a consistent season where he was never off the podium.
In speed Russian athletes dominated the medals with Ekaterina Koshcheeva prevailing from a close field in the women’s competition with the agile Nikolai Kuzovlev declared the men’s winner. However, this only tells part of the story with many notable achievements across the season. The continued improvement of a number of national federations is clear, particularly France, Finland and Iran for whom Mohammadreza Safdarian claimed a first ever World Cup medal and then a first ever gold medal and Rad Beheshti Mohen regularly challenged the Russian leaders in the speed finals.
The season also witnessed the first European Cup season with four events held with great success, providing athletes with more competition time and a stage for younger athletes to make the transition from national championships to the World Tour. The season kicked-off with an excellent World Youth Championships held in Malbun, Liechtenstein.
2019 Calendar: First Impressions
The UIAA is planning on an even more comprehensive season in 2019 with at least five World Cups, five European Cups, a World Championships and a World Youth Championships. The federation has received a record number of applications to host events. The UIAA is currently meeting organisers to define the 2019 programme with details to be confirmed in June.
UIAA attends Sport Accord
Thomas Kahr and Nils Glatthard recently represented the UIAA at Sport Accord, held in Bangkok, Thailand from 15-20 April. They took the opportunity to present details about the successful 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing season, meeting officials from both the IOC and the Lausanne 2020 Youth Winter Olympics. Important discussions in helping establish a clear pathway for ice climbing to one day become part of the Olympic Winter Games official competition programme. An article dedicated to the UIAA was published in the Sport Accord daily newspaper (see left).