THE QUEST TO BE WORLD CHAMPION
The 2018-2019 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour has already crowned the winners of the six-event World Cup season, the inaugural World Combined Championships, the World Youth Championships and the best performing athletes over the four-leg European Cup season. This weekend in Kirov, Russia, the calendar officially closes with the pinnacle event – the biennial UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships. The season, collectively the World Tour, is partnered by Outdoor Research.
Sunday 10 March is the key date with the lead and speed finals both taking place. The lead finals commence first at 10:00 local time (GMT +3) followed by the speed semi-finals and finals from 15:00. The full programme can be viewed here. Qualification action starts on Saturday 9 March.
The World Championships follows on from last weekend’s World Youth event successfully held in Oulu, Finland. A review of that event can be found here.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: THE MAIN CONTENDERS
Men’s Lead: Russia’s Nikolai Kuzovlev is the undoubted favourite having won four World Cup gold medals from six events as well as December’s World Combined Championships. His main rivals Yannick Glatthard of Switzerland and defending world champion HeeYong Park of South Korea will not feature in Kirov meaning France’s Nathan Clair and Louna Ladevant, Iran’s Mohammadreza Safdarian and Kuzovlev’s compatriots Alexey Dengin and a returning Maxsim Tomilov may provide the most stringent competition.
Last time out: World Cup in Denver, review
Women’s Lead: Woonseon Shin is the defending champion and has enjoyed an excellent season. However, home favourite Maria Tolokonina who has seven gold medals to her name this season will start in pole position. Top ten performers from this year’s World Tour including Eimir McSwiggan of Ireland, Enni Bertling of Finland and Olga Kosek of Poland will all have medal ambitions.
Men’s Speed: The Russian team for the World Championships is strong and in all likelihood will dominate the speed competition. Traditionally a harder event to call due to the many permutations and exacting rounds of competition. Anton Nemov as World Cup winner will start off as the favourite but he faces a stern test from Nikita Glazyrin, Vladislav Iurlov, Ivan Spitsyn, Anton Sukharev and the aforementioned Kuzovlev. Defending world champion Vladimir Kartashev will need to end a two-year run without a gold medal if he is to retain the title won in France two years ago. The Russian team’s main threat is likely to come from Iran’s Mohsen Rad Beheshti.
Athlete Profile: Maria Tolokonina
Women’s Speed: Tolokonina is also in contention for the speed crown where the likes of Ekaterina Koshcheeva (World Cup overall winner) and recent gold medal winners Valeriia Bogdan, Ekaterina Feoktistova and Natalia Savitskaia will all harbour ambitions of the world title.
EMBED CODES AND LINKS FOR KIROV LIVESTREAM
Saturday 9 March – Lead Semi-Finals (10:00 local time, GMT +3)
Sunday 10 March – Lead Finals (10:00 local time, GMT +3)
Sunday 10 March – Speed Finals (15:00 local time, GMT +3)
Main picture: Action from the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup in Denver (Photo: UIAA/Levi Harrell)