To provide a much needed ice climbing fix during lockdown, the UIAA has selected ten of the most compelling clips, features and highlights packages from past World Cups and World Championships.
UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUP
DENVER, UNITED STATES
Lead Finals, 2019
A record-breaking crowd (over 25,000 fans across the weekend) attended the finale to the 2018-2019 season held in downtown Denver. The lead finals, played out in front of an electric atmosphere, saw Swiss sensation Yannick Glatthard take the gold medal ahead of the overall UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour champion Nikolai Kuzovlev of Russia. In the women’s competition Maria Tolokonina and Woonseon Shin played out yet another enthralling chapter in their long running rivalry, with the Russian coming out on top by the narrowest of margins, taking another World Tour crown in the process. Ireland’s Eimir McSwiggan claimed the bronze medal.
THE IMPERIOUS MARIA TOLOKONINA
Born into a mountaineering family, the Russian has gone on to become one of the pre-eminent ice climbers of her generation. Proficient in both lead and speed disciplines, Tolokonina has amassed a staggering number of medals during her decade competing in the sport. The 33-year old has won six UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour crowns in lead discipline and six in speed. On three occasions (2009, 2016, 2020) she has done the double. In December 2018 competing at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, she became the inaugural winner of the first UIAA Ice Climbing World Combined Championships. Her technical ability is only matched by her fierce desire to win, marking her as truly one of the greats of the sport.
MOHAMMADREZA SAFDARIAN WINS GOLD FOR IRAN
The UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour has witnessed some tremendous feats of excellence from some great competitors. Athletes such as the Tomlilov brothers, Anton Nemov, Nikolai Kuzovlev and HeeYong Park have been at the forefront of the men’s competition for a number of years. However, the current crop of young stars emerging means the sport has some exciting faces to follow over the coming seasons too. None more so than Iran’s ‘History Boy’ Mohammadreza Safdarian. In Rabenstein, Italy in 2018, Safdarian became the first Iranian athlete to win a gold medal in the competition’s near two decade history. Along with the likes of France’s Louna Ladevant and Switzerland’s Yannick Glatthard, he is one of the emerging stars of recent seasons. This clip has attracted a staggering 560,000 views.
UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUP
Lead Finals, 2020
One of the most iconic and historic venues on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, the imposing ice dome of Saas-Fee, Switzerland provides a unique challenge athletes and unrivalled views for spectators. On this occasion it played host to the deciding round of the season with all still to play for. The leader in the men’s lead competition Mohammadreza Safdarian failed to make the final. With several of the big names, including last year’s winner in Switzerland, local favourite Yannick Glatthard disappointing, it came to down to a battle between the young Frenchman Louna Ladevant and the highly experienced Nikolai Kuzovlev. On this occasion youth prevailed and the 19-year old took the gold medal as well as the overall UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour lead title. In the women’s competition, it was of no surprise to see Maria Tolokonina produce an ice cold performance to take the win. The home fans had something to cheer as the consistent Sina Goetz claimed silver.
INSEPARABLE: THE LADEVANT BROTHERS
The French are enjoying something of a golden period in competition ice climbing. Reaping the benefits of a winter training camp in Kirov, Russia ahead of last season, the team enjoyed some excellent performances on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. Marion Thomas took a bronze in the women’s lead event in Changchun City, China and finished in a respectable fifth position in the overall standings. However, it was the performance of the precocious Louna Ladevant that caught the eye. The 19-year old enjoyed a break-out season, taking gold in both Changchun and Saas-Fee on his way to the overall lead title. He is not the only talented climber in the family, however, as this video profiles the rise of himself along with older brother Tristan.
RABENSTEIN & SAAS-FEE
2017 UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUPS
Action from a thrilling conclusion to the 2017 World Cup events, in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and Rabenstein, Italy. The men’s lead events were dominated by Korea’s HeeYong Park who took gold medals in both events on his way to claiming the overall title. Likewise, in the women’s lead event, the dominance of Hannarai Song came to the fore – victories in both events helping her to overall victory. In the speed events, Vladimir Kartashev’s win in Saas-Fee helped him to the overall speed crown. Compatriot Ekaterina Koshcheeva took gold in the women’s event and Ekaterina Feoktistova won the women’s event in Rabenstein. However, that was not enough to prevent Maria Tolokonina from taking the overall speed crown.
THE ICE KING
The self-styled ‘Ice King’, HeeYong Park has been one of the standout figures in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour’s history. The Korean has demonstrated a staggering level of consistency throughout this period. A three-time UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour champion in lead (2011, 2013, 2017) he has finished on the podium in every season from 2009-2019 with the exception of 2018, finishing as runner up on six occasions, taking the bronze medal in 2012 as well as a silver medal in the 2015 UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships. At the age of 38 and as his career draws to a close, he reflects on his career in the sport, his passion for the sport and the emergence of a new generation of ice climbers both from his home country and the rest of the world.
FINALS FROM BEIJING
2017 UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUP
An all-Russian final in Beijing in the men’s speed final as Vladimir Kartashev and Radomir Proschchenko went head to head. It was Proschchenko who came out on top, overcoming a slip to claim his first gold medal of the season. Kartashev went on to claim the overall UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour crown however, thanks to his wins in Saas-Fee and silver medals in Cheongsong and Rabenstein.
SIMON ANTHAMATTEN TRIUMPHS IN SAAS-FEE
2008 UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUP
Shown live on the BBC. One from further back in the archives, action from the 2008 UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup. Local favourite and mountain guide Simon Anthamatten thrilled the home crowd in Saas-Fee, Switzerland by winning the men’s lead competition. Anthamatten also took the gold medal on his way to sealing the seasonal crown.
THE RISE OF TEAM USA
INSIDE THE AMERICAN CAMP
While the traditional strength of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour – at least in terms of gold medals – has historically been from the Russian and Korean teams, as the sport grows in popularity it continues to spread its influence across the globe. Recent examples have seen athletes from different countries including Canada, Finland, France, Iran, Ireland and the Ukraine all take medals on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. Here, the UIAA profiles the USA climbing team as they seek to continue their development and set out their future ambitions ahead of the 2020 season.
A SUPERB AND POPULAR COMPETITOR
2016 UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUP, RABENSTEIN
The 2016 season finale took place in Rabenstein, Italy with all still to play for. Maxim Tomilov held a slender nine-point lead over brother Alexey heading into the final round of the men’s speed competition. However, none of the main protagonists threatened to take the gold medal. Radomir Proschenko took gold with a best time of 8.29 ahead of compatriots Egor Trapeznikov and Pavel Batushev.
In the women’s event, Maria Tolokonina continued her season’s dominance, proving too strong for defending champion Ekaterina Koshcheeva.
In the men’s lead event, young Slovenian Janez Svoljsak took the gold medal. Svoljsak, a popular figure on the World Tour, sadly passed away in 2019 aged 25. This proved to be his most memorable performance at a World Cup.
Maxim Tomilov who took the overall UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour title by 60 points. The women’s title was already decided going into the event, but there was to be a shock as Tolokonina fell, leaving Korea’s Hannarai Song to take her first gold medal of the season.
The full archive of UIAA Ice Climbing videos can be found here.
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