Bendler, Gulyaev and Tolokonina are Ice Climbing big winners

Markus Bendler, Maria Tolokonina and Pavel Gulyaev were the big winners of the 2009 Ice Climbing season. Tolokonina from Russia ranked first in both the Women’s Speed and Lead disciplines after winning five out of six competitions.

Bendler of Austria made a clean sweep of the men’s Lead competitions, winning every single event. Gulyaev won the men’s Speed discipline and set a new world speed record.

The Ice Climbing World Cup 2009 ended with the finals taking place in Busteni, Romania, from February 6-8. The other World Cup events were held in Daone, Italy; Mojstrana, Slovenia and Saas Fee, Switzerland.

As in previous years, Russian athletes dominated the speed category, both men and women. In the men’s Cup, Pavel Gulyaev became the overall winner, finishing just two points ahead of teammate Pavel Batushev. Nikolay Shved secured the third place after winning the Speed competition in Busteni. In the women’s category, Tolokonina was followed by Russians Maryam Filippova and Julia Oleynikova.

In the Lead discipline however, five nations were represented on the winners’ podium. In second place in the Lead category was Angelika Rainer from Italy, who won gold at the World Championships in Saas Fee, while Stephanie Maureau, France, secured third place. Following Bendler in the Men’s overall ranking were Hee Yong Park from the Republic of Korea and Alexey Tomilov from Russia, all three improving their ranking on the 2008 season.

The Busteni finals attracted between 2000-3000 spectators, who were impressed by the athletes’ performances. Because of the warm weather, the Lead competitions took place on dry structures, while the Speed athletes competed on a modified structure with a new refrigeration system. This kept the ice in good condition, even though the air temperatures were between 5-7 degrees Celsius.

The 2009 competition season finished off on February 8 with a World Record attempt for Speed Ice Climbing. The athletes had to ascend a 15 m high, vertical ice wall as fast as possible, and were given six attempts. Pavel Gulyaev set a new World Record for men with 8.748 seconds, improving on Pavel Batushev’s 2008 record of 9.5930 seconds. The first official women’s Speed World Record was set by World Cup winner Maria Tolokonina, who clocked in 11.473 seconds on her last attempt, beating Nadezda Shdubina’s 13.011 seconds.

Thanks to the Busteni organisers, the finals of the World Cup series were streamed live on the UIAA website, making it possible for fans to follow the events from afar. All of the official 2009 results can be found here.

The UIAA governs Ice Climbing as a competitive sport and is responsible for the organisation and promotion of the Ice Climbing World Cup and International Championships.