Under a perfect February blue sky and a stunning alpine backdrop, the world’s best competition ice climbers gathered in Rabenstein, Italy for the UIAA Ice Climbing World Championship in Lead presented by The North Face Korea.
When the ice settled two days later WoonSeon Shin of South Korea and Maxim Tomilov of Russia had earned the right to call themselves World Champions, a title they can hold for two years.
It was mixed climbing at its best.
Ice and rock.
And it was close.
Shin, who has struggled mightily this year and is a former World Cup winner in Busteni, Romania, was the last climber of the competition and she climbed with determination, style but most of all speed.
Angelika Rainer of Italy had topped before her in front of a boisterous hometown crowd, and so had Petra Klingler of Switzerland. So if Shin was to win, she had to not only top out but win on time as well.
Shin did both and won with almost 1 minute and 35 seconds left on the time clock. She’d redeemed herself and was ecstatic when she found out she’d won on her way down.
Maxim Tomilov (Russia), World Champion Men Lead, Rabenstein, Italy (Photo: David Schweizer for UIAA).
In the Men’s Lead competition, Maxim Tomilov of Russia won again, but not without a major fight from HeeYong Park, who like his teammate Shin, has struggled this year.
Park climbed in a measured, determined and driven way and topped out, and was leading the field until the final climber – Tomilov.
There were elements of the old Park. As he did three years ago to the delight of the crowd, Park topped and then did more, by climbing on further to the real top and then leaping down to to the delight of the crowd.
Tomilov won but Park by only about 10 seconds.
The other big story of the competition was the continued strong performance by young Swiss climbers Petra Klingler, 22, Kevin Huser, 19 and Yannick Glatthard, 17.
All three made it into the finals and Glatthard, in particular, who had a great semi-final climb in Saas Fee a week earlier showed that while he only be 17-years-old, he can compete with the best of them.
Both Glatthard and Huser are among the rising stars of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour moving swiftly, some might say recklessly as they test their youth and speed against the precision and experience of those older than them.
Other countries such as the United Kingdom, France, the U.S.A. and Iran have also begun concerted efforts to build competition ice climbing teams.
1 Tomilov Maxim RUS
2 Park HeeYong KOR
3 Tomilov Alexey RUS
4 Sypavin Valentyn UKR
5 Huser Kevin SUI
6 Glatthard Yannick SUI
7 Dengin Alexey RUS
8 Terekhin Vasily RUS