Olympic Blog: Amercian reporter challenges Russia’s Ivan Spitsin on the wall and CTV covers Nathan, Jen and Gord

Ice climbing is being showcased at the Olympic Park and the UIAA is there to celebrate the moment. This page will be updated regularly with information from the venue where climbers from around the world and visitors can climb and watch Lead and Speed duels on the wall.

23 February 2014

Nathan, Jen and Gord are great ambassadors for ice climbing. Here’s Canada’s CTV network covering ice climbing in Sochi.

21 February 2014

Various media from around the world have come by the ice climbing wall to see and experience what it’s all about.

Many of them gave it a try, but in the spirit of friendly competition, NBC Channel 2’s Blake Essig (U.S.A.) decided to challenge Russian Speed climber Ivan Spitsin to a friendly duel.

Watch what happens:
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Here are a few other examples of media coverage in Dutch, German and Swiss-German:

Meanwhile Israfil Ashurli sent us this photo of his son Aslan ready to take on the wall in Sochi:

18 February 2014 Another email update from Gord McArthur:

As the rain came down, the streets of the Olympic Park filled with pools of water.It didn’t matter as the people “of the world” still walked through with enthusiasm. The same level of spirit continued on within the confines of the ice and Lead structures.  Despite the rain falling, the lineup for the ice tower was as deep as ever.  Despite constant streaming of water pouring off the roof of the lead structure, climbers were still performing.  It would take some sort of Armageddon to keep such passion under wraps.  We find joy in what we do; camaraderie between us all, even amongst the dull skies that linger.  It goes deeper; it drives harder, it learns, progresses, and continues to push forward.  Every day I’m constantly reminded of the effort it takes to climb, to perform, to try hard and find such joy that brings a level of motivation that’s unparalleled.

Over the last few days I’ve found inspiration from a country that you wouldn’t think would resonate with ice climbing, the team from Iran.

When they first appeared on the World Cup circuit, there was a sense of disconnect.  It was foreign to them, like a different world. But since then, they’ve trained, focused and dedicated a lot of time to improving the skills needed for such competition.  And now, as I sit below them, watching them climb on the lead structure at the Olympic Park, they’re crushing it, and it’s amazing.  They are so polite, graceful, but filled with a fire that makes them fight to the finish.  These athletes will soon be a force to be reckoned with. This country, these climbers, they deserve to be here, they belong in this ring.  They inspire me to try harder.

Time is dwindling, but the momentum is still gaining.  We’re on the right track, come rain or shine, this sport will be in the Olympics one day, and it’s going to be awesome.

17 February 2014

Gord McArthur continues to send us updates from Sochi:

Athletes from all around the world come together to celebrate a sport that requires exceptional athletic ability.  The time, dedication, mental toughness, and discipline that is required demonstrates a level of commitment that is hardly matched.  But between the lines, there’s a family, a group of people that have formed a special bond; trust, faith, laughter, and communication without borders. Last night, we all came together and shared a meal, dinner for 25 (or so), and it didn’t matter what language you spoke, only that smiling was “the” language that everyone understood.

Being in Sochi, at the Olympic Park, climbing with this “family” of athletes, we’re doing what we do best, in front of the world.  Not only that, but we’re doing it with the same passion you see on the sharp end of a competition, in the heat of the moment.  This experience will forever be remembered as the time that ice climbing truly became a common ground, no matter the language barrier or boundary between nationalities.

16 February 2014

The last batch of international climbers have left. They were Petra Klingler (CH), Ankhbold Dangaasuren (Mongolia), Markus Urbanowski (Germany), Erin Weber, Marc Beverly (US), Gordon MaArthur (Canada).

The new batch of climbers who will demonstrate climbing at the wall include Nathan Kutcher (Canada), Nae Yagi (Japan), Jennifer Olson (UK), Olov Isaksson (Sweden), Etienne Grillot (France), Kevin Hesuer (CH), Zohren Abdollahkhani (Iran), and Masoud Zeynali (Iran)

Alexey Dengin sent us these photos from Olympic Park today which include a shot of Urs Stoecker.

15 February 2014
Gord McArthur sent us this update from Sochi:
Today, it was +25 degrees Celsius.  And we ice climbed.  Words can’t even describe how awesome it is to demonstrate a sport that we love in weather like this, in front of the Olympic world. Every day we climb, we try hard, and we support each other, the athletes from all over the world, building a community, a family, with the utmost of respect … through a sport that depicts speed, agility, gymnastic movement, and a sense of power that is unheard of.
Being at the Olympics is surreal.  But what makes it so great is that you have athletes from all corners of the earth, coming together to celebrate sport.  No matter the issues that flood this world, it’s like we all try to take a break from that and enjoy sport.  Today, myself (Gord McArthur-Canada) and a few other athletes, we came together and watched the Russia USA hockey game.  What was cool about this (besides from watching the game) is that we all came together, joining forces, joining countries, and celebrated together sport.  How cool is that?

This experience, performing competitive ice climbing, with fellow athletes, celebrating sport, coming together to progress our passion … what a dream come true … and it’s only the beginning.Tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity to show off why we climb, and how we all love it, to the ends of the earth.

14 February 2014
Ice Climbers in Sochi
A family portrait of athletes and officials before the Olympic rings in Sochi, Russia (Photo: Lukasz Warzecha for UIAA)
12 February 2014
10 February 2014
Today’s updates include some photos from the venue that give you a sense of what is happening and another update from Petra Klingler who writes:

So today was similar to yesterday. We got up and after a good breakfast we went over to the structure.What was different in comparison to yesterday was that Markus and I did training with a couple of pull-ups and some “terraband”. I felt really tired after that and there was show climbing in the evening. But I think it was actually a really good training day.  We did climb some Speed and Lead later the day.

I’m also glad my knee is feeling better again.

Things were a bit chaotic with the Gordon McArthur in the evening. It was a big misunderstanding and so there was no one going to pick him up at the airport. In the end someone did go to the airport, but Gordon managed to come to our place on his own. And I must say that this is a simple and easy version of what happened today!


Marc Beverly with future ice climbing champion at the ice tower in Olympic Park (Photo: Lukasz Warzecha for UIAA)



Petra Klingler with some young Russian climbers at the ice tower in Sochi (Photo: Lukasz Warzecha for UIAA)


The ice tower at Olympic Park in Sochi (Photo: Lukasz Warzecha for UIAA)


Getting ready to watch an evening Speed demonstration in at Olympic Park in Sochi (Photo: Lukasz Warzecha for UIAA)


An evening Speed duel in progress at Olympic Park (Photo: Lukasz Warzecha for UIAA)

9 February 2014 

UIAA president Frits Vrijlandt took a crack at the wall today, and what we have is a shot of him against the backdrop of Olympic Park in Sochi where the ice tower is located,

Frits Vrijlandt in Sochi

UIAA president Frits Vrijlandt on the ice tower in the Olympic Park in Sochi today (Photo: UIAA)

8 February 2014 

Lukasz Warzecha who is shooting photos for the UIAA filed this shot of the Markus Urbanowski climbing on the structure in Sochi, Russia. More and videos to come in the days to come.


Markus Urbanowski climbs the structure in Sochi, Russia (Photo: UIAA)

Petra Klingler who is sharing her Sochi diary writes:

Last night after the opening ceremony, we were able to climb on the structure for the first time.

I did some speed rounds on the ice tower. Even though it was past midnight the crowd was not bad and the people stayed to watch us climb.

But after the late return yesterday night we were able to sleep in a little today, before going back to the structure for some climbing with the crowd and the young Russian team (the hope for the future). 

It was amazing to see how the people where standing in the row for a climb at our ice tower! It was really inspiring!

In the evening it was our turn once again to climb for the crowd. First a bit of speed (men and women) and then some dry tooling on the cool structure with the flexible cubes.

Unfortunately I slightly injured myself at speed climbing by poking myself into the leg. But I guess that’s what can happen. Luckily it’s not that bad! And I’m looking forward to climbing once again tomorrow!

7 February 2014

Petra Klingler once again sent us the first shots of some climbers on the ice wall in the Olympic Park in Sochi. She writes:

The biggest highlight of today was the opening ceremony After helping the RMR/UIAA to put up some things around the ice tower we ended up in front of the Olympic fire and waited as they put it on. It was spectacular! A great feeling to be part of this happening! 

Though it was amazingly warm through the day, so warm that we were able to sit outside in tshirts and enjoy a cup of coffee, it got really cold towards the evening. 

Throughout the day we also did some pullup training with alexey dengin and some other climbers, to prepare for the next day, where we will show the crowd what ice climbing is and how great our sport is. Looking forward to tomorrow. Stay tuned it starts 10am. So excited!


Petra’s view of the fireworks at Sochi (Photo: Petra Klingler)

7 February 2014 – First glimpse of the wall

The 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony begins in less than an hour, and already athletes from the UIAA Ice Climbing community have begun to gather at the venue where the celebrations will be held.

They include UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt who is there to witness the historic showcasing of ice climbing at the Olympic Park, where a 20 metre ice tower through the generous support of sponsor Sberbank.

Swiss climber Petra Klingler sent us this photo, the first glimpse of the ice on the ice tower, which is still mostly wrapped in banners.


Partially covered ice wall in the Olympic Park in Sochi (Photo: Petral Klinger for the UIAA)

Starting tomorrow at 10:00 (local time), visitors to the park will be able to try to climb the wall and witness exciting spectacles including a Speed duel where climbers will climb on all four sides of the tower at the same time.

At least 60 ice climbing athletes from 15 countries have been invited to participate in the event. Laser shows during the duels are also planned each evening, while daytime visitors will be introduced and initiated into the intricacies involved in ice climbing.

1 February 2014

From www.olympic.org, the official website of the International Olympic Committee comes this article reprinted below which includes a video of the Olympic flame reaching Europe’s highest point.

Olympic Flame Reaches Europe’s highest point

The Olympic Flame has been lit at the summit of Mt. Elbrus – the highest point in Europe – as part of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay.

The special project to take the flame to the western peak of Elbrus, at an altitude of 5,642 meters above sea level, was planned separately from the main Olympic Torch Relay route in order to ensure the best possible weather conditions for the climb.

At the end of October 2013, an ascent of the western summit was made by a team of experienced mountain climbers including Karina Mezova, who has climbed to the summit of Elbrus 130 times, and Abdul-Khalim Elmezov, the President of the Climbing Federation of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Under good weather conditions, the climbers reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus with the Olympic Flame in a special lantern before lighting a Sochi 2014 cauldron.

Mt. Elbrus lies in the Greater Caucasus mountain range and, while it is commonly called a mountain, it is actually a layered volcano, which last erupted around 2,000 years ago. It has long been popular among climbers, with the first documented ascent of the Eastern summit in 1829. The slightly higher Western peak was first climbed in 1874.

The main Olympic Torch Relay, meanwhile, is continuing its epic 123-day journey across Russia, which will culminate at the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014 on 7 February 2014.

The record-breaking 65,000km route has been designed to ensure that approximately 90% of Russia’s population will be within an hour of the Relay at some stage, allowing around 130 million residents to participate in the event.

Find out more about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/Partners

More information on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay can be found at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/
29 January 2014

UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup athlete Gord McArthur was interviewed by Petzl on what it was like to travel to Sochi to showcase ice climbing as a cultural event. Here is the interview he gave to www.petzl.com

30 January 2014

A 20 meter tall ice tower inside the Olympic Park in Sochi, where the Russian Mountaineering Federation will showcase ice climbing as a cultural event during the Winter Olympics, is an exciting development and major boost to the sport, says UIAA president Frits Vrijlandt.

“The presence of ice climbing at the Sochi Winter Olympics even as a demonstration event is huge, said Vrijlandt. “Ice climbing is a thrilling and exciting spectacle which involves speed, strength and skill.”

Vrijlandt said the event in Sochi is yet another way for a broader audience to begin to appreciate ice climbing, and comes in the heels of other developments such as the growth of ice climbing events in countries as varied as Korea, Romania, Slovenia, U.S.A. and Russia.

Andrei Volkov, president of the Russian Mountaineering Federation said the privilege of sharing ice climbing during the festivities is “a great event and an honour for us.

“The first sport ice climbing competitions were held in Russia more than 30 years ago,” said Volkov. “And now we are especially proud to have such a unique opportunity to demonstrate the sport during the Olympic Games.”


Pavel Shabalin participates in Olympic Torch relay in Kirov (Photo: Supplied by Pavel Shabalin)

Pavel Shabalin, former president of the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission and the man who made the ice wall possible, said it could not have been done without the sponsorship of Russian bank, Sberbank.

There are exciting activities being planned including a Speed duel where climbers will climb on all four sides of the tower at the same time. At least 60 ice climbing athletes from 15 countries have been invited to participate in the event. Laser shows during the duels are also planned each evening, while daytime visitors will be introduced and initiated into the intricacies involved in ice climbing.

UIAA Ice Climbing president Urs Stoecker said the goal of the UIAA has always been to one day have the sport included in the Olympics. The UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup currently spans Korea, Romania, Switzerland, France, Italy and Russia. As well, the first UIAA Open North American championships were held in Bozeman, Montana in December.

“The opportunity to showcase modern and young ice climbing during the Olympic gives the whole development of the sport a huge momentum which we can use to target our own dreams,” said Stoecker.