The sight of men and women charging up an ice tower with razor sharp tools, eyes ablaze and ice chips flying around them is enough to intimidate most people.
But not Vladamir Kartashev, 20, who stood his ground to stake his claim as one of Russia’s newest Russian Speed stars.
Kartashev kept his cool and beat an experienced field of veteran competition Speed climbers to win his first gold medal in a UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour competition in Rabenstein, Italy on Saturday 31 January 2015.
His second attempt of 9.61 seconds edged out Nikolay Primerov, 32, who completed his best run at 9.63 seconds.
In third place was Egor Trapeznikov, 25, another veteran speed champion who took 9.99 seconds to complete the 15 metre tall ice tower.
In the Women’s Speed competition 26-year-old Maria Krasavina who won Gold in Saas Fee and Rabenstein in 2013 but stayed out of most of last year’s tour served notice that she’s back on the tour and a force to be reckoned with.
Krasavina crushed the field with a best time of 12.09 seconds.
In second place was Ekaterina Feoktistova (13.21 seconds) seconds followed by Ekaterina Koshcheeva, another rising star who is only 19 years old (14.01 seconds).
There was plenty of drama in the Speed competition with several climbers missing the bell in frustration after having battled a route with big gaps in the ice.
Others had their picks stick in the ice, which they struggled to free furiously.
But even though the Russians dominated as expected, an increasing number of climbers from other countries put on credible performances.
These included Swiss climber Samuel Clavian who had a best time of 12.68 seconds and MyungWook Yang of Korea who did slightly better with 12.52 seconds.
Earlier in the day, the Women’s Lead semi-finals saw a dramatic upset when Korea’s HanNaRai Song, the overall leader to date in the 2015 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour fell at particularly difficult hold in the final stage of the climb.
It was at a spot which commentator Mark Beverly dubbed the “terrible triangle,” a hold that had bedeviled many climbers before her.
Song’s teammate WoonSeon Shin who has struggled on the tour this year, however, put on a fine performance to earn 1st place leading into tomorrow’s finals (followed by Angelika Rainer (Italy) and Luidmila Badalyan (Russia).
Live streaming of the final day of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Championship (Lead) which takes place once every two year starts Sunday, 1 February, 2015 at 8.30 a.m. CET with the Men’s semi-finals in Lead. The Women and Men’s finals follow starting at 1.30 p.m CET