Kihak Sung: Ice climbing deserves to be part of the Olympic games

Every sport which wants to enter the Olympics, needs athletes, spectators, excitement, and where possible, a global reach.

But what it also needs most is a person who believes in the sport’s potential and is willing to back it financially.

Kihak Sung of Goldwin Korea, the official license partner of The North Face in Korea, is one such man. And he’ll be there in Cheongsong, Korea for the second stage of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour in Korea this weekend.

The Korean phase of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour presented by The Face which was launched in Bozeman, Montana in December moves to Cheongong for a two-day competition which begins on Saturday, 10 January 2015. Stops after that include Switzerland, France, Italy and finally Russia.

UIAA president Frits Vrijlandt and Executive Board member Thomas Kähr who are attending the competition will meet with officials of the Korean National Olympic Committee as part of the continuing efforts to have ice climbing included in the Winter Olympics.
While the efforts to make ice climbing into an Olympic sport has the support of UIAA federations, members and athletes, Sung is the man responsible for making the North Face the official sponsor of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour.

And it’s not just a one-time grant. Because he thinks it will take time to show the sport’s potential to the world, the UIAA and his company have entered into a multi-year development and partnership arrangement that goes through to 2018.

“I would like this to become one of the major winter sports in Korea and around the world,” Sung who has been the strongest supporter of Korean ice climbing since 1997 recently told the UIAA in a video interview. “This sport deserves to be part of the of the Olympic games.”

Sung said he used to be a climber, and wishes he could still climb. But his greatest pleasure these days is in seeing young people enjoy the sport of competition ice climbing, as an antidote to a desk-bound lifestyle.

At the time of the signing of the agreement, UIAA president Frits Vrijlandt said Sung’s backing was “a sign of confidence that the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour which has been growing in popularity over the years is a top notch international event.”

The video below was released by Sung at the time of signing of the agreement.

Goldwin Korea and UIAA join forces to promote ice climbing from UIAA – Climbing & Mountaineering on Vimeo.

Since then, the UIAA ice climbing programme has steadily been growing with the demonstration of the sport during the Sochi Winter Olympics, the expansion of the tour to Bozeman, Montana (the first such event in North America), a robust youth ice climbing championship series and training camps for ice climbers in Kirov, Russia.
For more information about the UIAA ice climbing programme please contact Etienne Grillot at iceclimbing@theuiaa.org