A Guide to the Ice Climbing World Cup

The world’s finest ice climbers have been showing off their strengths since the turn of the new year as they compete in the 2012 Ice Climbing World Cup. The sport’s elite competitors are currently embroiled in a gruelling schedule that takes them across continents for a series of challenges as they compete for the title with the competition coming to a head next month.

What is it?

The Ice Climbing World Cup is run by the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (or UIAA for short, known by the acronym of its name in French) and is part of an ongoing drive to get wider recognition for the sport of ice climbing, with the overall aim of its inclusion in the Winter Olympics. Formal competition in ice climbing is a relatively recent addition to the elite climbing calendar. The first International World Cup was a privately-run event launched in 2000 before it was taken under the auspices of the UIAA two years later. It is now bigger than ever with events taking place across five countries spread over two months.

Where is it?

The 2012 World Cup is now well underway. The first event saw the World Cup returning to Asia for only the second time with competitions in Cheongsong, South Korea, from January 14-15. A week later climbers descended on Saas Fee in Switzerland for the next round of events which also formed part of the Open European Championship, while Champagny en Vanoise in France hosted the third round of World Cup events at the beginning of February. The fourth installment saw the World Cup heading to Busteni in Romania, while the final World Cup event of 2012 heads east to Kirov in Russia from March 8 to 10.

What are the rules?

A raft of rules and regulations are enforced by the UIAA in World Cup competitions, including ensuring all competitors are officially licensed, but the basics of ice climbing are simple to grasp and involve climbers tackling marked routes across ice-covered rockfaces. To add a competitive element they compete in twin disciplines of ‘Lead’ and ‘Speed.’ As the name suggests, speed is just a case of getting up the ice face in the fastest possible time, with the climber supported by a top-rope. Climbs are timed with the winner being the one who completes the route in the shortest time. The lead discipline is a difficultly-based competition. Climbers are belayed from below and must tackle a complex route to get as high as possible, with athletes ranked by how high they reach on the course. Points are awarded in both disciplines for finishing positions with the competitors then being ordered in a rankings table. First place gets 100 points, second place is worth 80 points, third place gets 65 points, with points tallies also awarded for lower placed positions.

Who are the contenders?

It’s fair to say the Russians have dominated both disciplines of the competition so far this season for both men and women. With just one more round of events left taking place in Russia from March 8 to 10, there could be a clean sweep of trophies for the host nation when the World Cup ends. In the difficulty discipline (lead), Tomilov Maxim leads the way for the men after notching first place in the first two events in Cheongsong and Saas-Fee. He holds an unsurmountable 118 point lead over Korean climber Park Heeyong in second place. It is the battle for second place which will provide the drama in the men’s lead contest, with Heeyong alongside third-placed Ukranian Sypavin Valentyn, Russian Tomilov Alexey in fourth place and Austria’s Bendler Markus in fifth place all separated by just 21 points. Things are closer still in the women’s lead contest with Italian athlete Rainer Angelika holding a slender one point lead over Russian rival Tolokonina Maria. Her fellow Russian Gallyamova Anna is still in contention just 30 points off the top spot, while Korean Shin Woon Seon is not out of it in fourth place either.

In the women’s speed discipline, Russia has the title sewn up already, with Russian climbers incredibly occupying the first eight places. Compatriots Filipovva Maryam and Krasavina Maria are tied on 300 points in joint top spot, while Tolokonina Maria and Shabalina Viktoria share third place on 256 points going into the last round.

It’s a similar story in the search for the fastest men, with the top 11 places currently occupied by Russian climbers. Kolchegoshev Kirill is currently in pole position on 267 points, closely followed by Tomilov Alexey on 251 points to ensure a thrilling finish in their home country this March.


Written by Annabel, an Event Organiser for Chillisauce, a company specialiasing in crazy Stag Weekend Ideas and Hen Nights


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