Russians continue to dominate Ice Climbing speed World Cup

Russians continue to dominate Ice Climbing speed World CupRussian athlete Maria Tolokonina and countryman Pavel Batushev won the women and men’s World Cup speed competitions in Mojstrana, Slovenia on January 31.

This was Batushev’s first win of the season, after collecting a silver medal in last weekend’s World Championship in Saas Fee. The second and third places went to Matevs Vukotic, Slovenia and Pavel Gulyaev, Russia.

Tolokonina’s victory was her third of 2009, including a gold in the speed competitions in Switzerland. In Mojstrana she was followed by fellow Russians Viktoria Shabalina and Julia Oleynikova.

“This is my third year of winning, however I never think about the victory during the game. Maybe I am superstitious,” said Tolokonina, who added: “What I like about this sport is that I can have results that can be compared to men’s.”

For Batushev the best thing with ice climbing is “the extremes of this sport”. He was confident going into the final: “I knew I was going to win at the very beginning – even though I hurt my hand during the climb.”

Around 500 spectators watched the event, which took place in a natural gorge with plenty of artificially made ice on an 18m high wall.

Andrej Pecjak, one of the international judges, was impressed by the enthusiastic crowd and the spectacular speed of the climbers. “The athletes are getting better and better,” he said: “I also noticed that European athletes are cutting into the Russian speed domination.”

At the World Championship speed competition, Russian Pavel Gulyaev was the fastest man, while in the lead category Angelika Rainer, Italy, and Markus Bendler, Austria, were victorious. At the season opening in Daone, Tolokonina and Bendler won the lead competitions.

The finals of the World Cup series will be held in Busteni, Romania, February 5-8, and streamed live on UIAA Live Stream Web Page and in the organiser’s web site. 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.