Park Hee Yong puts on a show in Saas Fee as race for overall champion intensifies

A crucial win in Saas Fee keeps Park Hee Yong in the race for overall Lead champion (Photo: Philippe Mooser for the UIAA)

Saas Fee: The race to become overall 2014 UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup champion reached a new high in Saas Fee, Switzerland with the irrepressible Park Hee Yong in the starring role.Park put on a display of his climbing prowess in the Lead discipline which many veteran observers of the competition say will be talked about for years to come.

The Koran climber was the last participant in the Lead finals, and climbing after the both the Tomilov brothers, Alexey and Maxim who were leading at the time. This was incredibly Park’s second climb in hours, because earlier in the evening a technical incident resulted in Park being allowed to climb a second time.

He had reached near the top of the wall when the lights went out and finished the climb in the dark, with just some disco lights.

“The option was to give him the high point where the lights went out or restart,” said competition judge Ziggy Ster.

Park chose to climb again, and the rest is history. It was a powerful climb and he reached the final ice barrel, the same on the Tomilov brothers had reached with some effort, with minutes to spare.

In what is now becoming a signature move, Park, after he topped the wall, did just as he had in Rabenstein last year, kept climbing past the top, reached the lip, stood on it, cleared the rope out of the way and then jumped off the wall.

During that same event, Alexey Tomilov who has had a strong series of climbs in Cheongsong, Busteni and Saas Fee was given a lower score, Ster explained, because he did not complete a proper clipping of a karabiner/quick draw sequence required by the rules.

Park’s victory, which comes in the heels of a bronze in Cheongsong, a silver in Busteni and a gold in Saas Fee, means he has closed the gap for the overall race. The leading three climbers in the Men’s Lead as they headed into Champagny-en-Vanoise were:

1. Maxim Tomilov (260 points)
2. Park Hee Yong (245 points)
3. Alexey Tomilov (202 points)

In the Women’s Lead discipline Angelika Rainer who battled an illness in Cheongsong and won a bronze like Park, has also become stronger as the tour continues. Like Park, she won a bronze in Cheongsong, a silver in Busteni and a gold in Saas Fee. The leading three climbers in the Women’s Lead discipline as they headed into Champagny-en-Vanoise were:

1. ShinWoonSeoon (260 points)
2. Angelika Rainer (245 points)
3. Maria Tolokonina (212 points)