Records were set at the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup in downtown Denver, Colorado on the weekend of 23-24 February. The 25,000 fans who attended the two-day event represent not only the largest ever in the World Tour’s history but also make it one of the most well-spectated climbing events of all time. Hundreds of thousands also followed the livestream of the competition, the sixth and final World Cup of the 2019 season. Furthermore, the UIAA website recorded record visitor figures during the weekend. The competition was organised in collaboration with UIAA member association, The American Alpine Club. Outdoor Research is the Title Sponsor of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour.
Located within Civic Center Park, the competition in Denver was hosted in a distinctly urban setting which opened the World Cup up to a more diverse and varied audience compared to its regular stops in mountain resorts. Sunday evening’s Lead Finals in particular played out against an electric atmosphere. As the sixth and final event of the World Cup season, Denver also had the honour of deciding the season’s final rankings.
Although the six-event World Cup season which visited South Korea, China, Switzerland, Italy, France and the United States is now over, the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour still has two major competitions to host. Next week in Oulu, Finland the World Youth Championships will be held before Kirov, Russia hosts the pinnacle event, the biennial World Championships (8-10 March).
Photos from Denver.
Results – Denver
2019 World Cup Final Rankings
WINNERS IN DENVER. WINNERS OF THE WORLD CUP
Men’s Lead: Climbers from six different countries made the Finals in Denver. France, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland and Ukraine all represented. Two men topped the 60-ft structure – fittingly they were Yannick Glatthard of Switzerland and Nikolai Kuzovlev of Russia, the only athletes to have claimed lead gold medals this season. Glatthard, dubbed ‘Swiss Air’ for his flying, daring style, made the top 11 seconds faster than Kuzovlev before enthralling the crowd with his victory celebration where he dived off the top of the structure. The 21-year old Swiss athlete adds to the gold he claimed in Saas-Fee. Kuzovlev can now add a silver to his four golds and was also confirmed as winner of the Series. Bronze went to Ukraine’s Valentyn Sypavin.
Women’s Lead: The women’s Finals was also contested by athletes from six countries – Finland, France, Ireland, Russia, South Korea and Switzerland. Eimir of McSwiggan capped a tremendous season to claim bronze in Denver and finish the overall rankings in third. Like the men’s Finals it was the best two climbers in this season’s competition who contested first place. A mere nudge of the eleventh hold enabled Maria Tolokonina of Russia to claim a fifth gold medal of the season. Woonseon Shin of South Korea, winner in Saas-Fee, had to settle for a fifth silver medal. It will be some contest between the two greats when they face each other next for the World Championship crown in Kirov.
Men’s Speed: A number of the season leaders were unable to travel to Denver which created an open competition. Arguably the big story was Canada’s David Bouffard claiming a first World Cup medal with silver. Kuzovlev, regularly on the speed podium this season, took his first gold in the discipline to finish second in the overall rankings behind Anton Nemov. Dmitriy Grebennikov defeated Switzerland’s Nikolai Primerov for bronze. Kuzovlev set the fastest time on the near 40-ft wall, a blistering 6.48 seconds.
Women’s Speed: What a weekend it was for Maria Tolokonina. Gold in lead and a second first place of the season in speed. Seven World Cup gold medals from five events is a magnificent haul. Tolokonina also won the inaugural Combined World Championships in December. Gold wasn’t enough to win the overall Series, Ekaterina Koshcheeva takes that honour. Denver was also a memorable weekend for Coralie Jary and Marion Thomas of France who earned silver and bronze. Jary, a regular in the lead event, was competing in her first speed competition in 2019. Switzerland’s Vivien Labraile and in her first appearance of the season, Marianne van der Steen of the Netherlands, performed impressively to finish in the top five.
The UIAA thanks all event organisers for making the World Cup in Denver a truly momentous and unique event.
Photos: UIAA/Levi Harrell