For the first time since 2015, Kirov, Russia plays host to a UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup competition. It promises to be quite the occasion. With the overall season standings delicately poised the deciding act in the 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, partnered by The North Face Korea, will determine the overall male and female World Tour champions in both lead and speed. There are also four World Cup gold medals still up for grabs as well as the small matter of the European Championships. Action from what promises to be an enthralling weekend of action will be livestreamed (semi-finals and finals) on the UIAA YouTube , Facebook and Twitter channels as well as on the Olympic Channel and EXTREME. Commentary comes from Liam Lonsdale. Action takes place from 2-4 March.
The full programme can be downloaded here. Times given are GMT+3.
Starting lists and live results will be available here.
Men’s Speed. The only certainty is that the overall World Tour winner will hail from Russia. Anton Nemov (300 points) starts in pole position but his lead his an extremely tenuous one. Last time out in Cheongsong, Nikolai Kuzovlev (295 points) claimed gold and, in the process, significantly dented Nemov’s advantage. Gold medallist in Hohhot (round 3), Igor Spitsyn (270) is also in the conversation. The speed competition is particularly fickle with it rare for an athlete to claim back-to-back World Cup golds. Reigning World Champion and World Tour winner Vladimir Kartashev (238) will need a minor miracle to win the overall rankings and instead will seek to claim a first gold of the campaign. Full rankings.
Women’s Speed. The margins in the women’s competition are slightly wider but not significantly. Advantage belongs to Ekaterina Koshcheeva (325 points). The reigning World Champion has been the most consistent performer, podiuming at every round although only claiming her first gold medal in Cheongsong. On that occasion she defeated her closest rival Natalia Belyaeva (300), winner in Hohhot. Ekaterina Feoktistova (296) also has a strong chance of claiming the seasonal crown. In their home event, expect strong performances from Nadezda Gallyamova (249), gold medallist in Rabenstein and Alena Vlasova (200), desperately seeking a first podium of the season. Full rankings.
Men’s Lead. Winner at three of the four World Cup events it is hard to look beyond Alexey Dengin (310) for the overall crown. His overall lead though is still fragile. Maxim Tomilov (291) has lacked Dengin’s flair and dexterity but has been remarkably consistent with three silver medals. A fierce competitor and multi-World Tour champion Tomilov will want to finish the season with a gold. Iran’s Mohammadreza Safdarian (263) led the World Tour standings going into the last round in Cheongsong but his excellent form has dipped slightly during the two rounds of competition in Asia. The break-through star of the 2018 season will at the very least want to defend his podium spot. Maxim Tomilov’s older brother Alexey (241) lies fourth and is the athlete most likely to overhaul Safdarian. In terms of the gold medal itself in Kirov, Canada’s Noah Beek (87) will seek to build on last week’s win at the Oulu European Cup and reach his second finals of the season. Full rankings.
Women’s Lead. South Korea’s Woonseon Shin (360) has enjoyed a brilliant season. Poise, grace and speed have defined her performances which have drawn two silver and two golds. She is the top scoring athlete of the season. Russia’s imperious Maria Tolokonina (290) will still hope to overturn Shin’s advantage but will most likely need to win her first gold of the 2018 campaign. Tolokonina has taken two bronze medals and two silvers. Shin’s compatriot, Hannarai Song (265) missed the competition in Hohhot which impacted on her season ranking, but with two golds and a bronze to her name will be a strong favourite for Kirov gold. Russia’s Ekaterina Vlasova (220) will hope to better a run of four straight fourth places. Ireland’s Eimir McSwiggan (185) will be equally determined to claim a second podium of the season and defend her top five ranking. Full rankings.
A full review from Kirov will be available on Monday 5 March. A more in-depth look back on the season and an insight into the next steps for the UIAA in ice climbing will be published shortly afterwards.
Main image: Marianne van der Steen (Holland). Image: Rhea Kang/UIAA
Report: Peter Bourne/UIAA
Pictures from the 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour are available on the UIAA Flickr channel.
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