Cheongsong: Excitement, dramatic finishes and supreme acts of skill characterise the third UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup event of the 2017 season, held in Cheongsong (South Korea) from 14-15 January.
In the lead competition, local favourites HeeYong Park and Han Na Rai Song deliver mesmerising gold medal displays. Silver medallists Yannick Glatthard and Eimir McSwiggan produce career defining performances.
The speed competition continues to launch new talents. Russia’s Pavel Batushev and Natalia Belyaeva are the star performers and claim their first ever gold medals.
The 2017 UIAA Ice Climbing season is partnered by The North Face Korea.
Cheongsong never disappoints. Its vibrant, convivial opening ceremony always helps generate a special atmosphere. Come competition, one of the most impressive ice climbing structures in the world played host to almost one hundred international athletes who collectively produced another compelling weekend of ice climbing.
As is custom in Cheongsong, the lead final was staged as the headline event, with the routes taking impressive lines around the structure. With routes of over 50 moves, all of which were incredibly challenging, the UIAA route-setters created some incredible sequences.
The men’s competition was thrilling. The final round welcomed athletes from five countries. Russia’s Nikolay Primerov got proceedings off to a solid start with a brilliant attempt at the route, climbing well through the steepest sections and only falling at the base of the final headwall. The standard was set for the rest of the competitors.
Current lead World Champion Maxim Tomilov (RUS) took bronze medal with a solid performance which saw him reach two thirds of the height of the final headwall. Silver medal went to Yannick Glatthard (SUI) who the day before celebrated his 19th birthday. Climbing in his usual fast and furious style, he really lit up the crowd and managed to reach the top, timing out as he clipped the final quick draw. HeeYong Park (KOR) took his first gold of the season, his second in a row in Cheongsong. “It’s amazing to win here after so much training and a lot of stress,” explained Park, who now leads the World Cup rankings in lead.
The women’s competition was equally as exciting, with numerous competitors battling to stay on the wall through the steep sections. Enni Bertling (FIN) qualified for her first international final and showed that she has got what it takes to compete with the best. Korean climbers MinYoung Ha and MyoungHee Lee both climbed well. Maryam Filippova (RUS) took third place behind Korea-based Eimir McSwiggan (IRL) who after making her third consecutive final, claimed her second medal; an impressive achievement considering she has only been climbing for six years and competing for four. The gold medal was awarded to Han Na Rai Song (KOR) who was a deserving winner, climbing the route in its entirety with rapturous support from the crowd. This is her second gold medal in Cheongsong and her third UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup gold medal in total. Like Park, she now leads the competition standings.
New speed heroes
The speed competition was a thriller. The Russian team dominating. In the men’s competition Vladimir Kartashev (RUS) duelled with Pavel Batushev (RUS) for the gold medal. Batushev took the win and a first ever goal medal, but Kartashev captured everyone’s heart and imagination when he completed his first climb with only one tool!
In the women’s competition, World Cup newcomer Natalya Balyaeva (RUS) and Ekaterina Feoktistova (RUS) battled for supremacy. The latter showed extraordinary potential, but it was Balyaeva who was better on the day, her first international competition and her first gold medal.
Next stop: Saas Fee
There is no respite for the athletes on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, partnered by The North Face Korea. Following an event in North America and two in Asia, athletes now face three events on successive weekends in Europe. Saas Fee, Switzerland, hosts round four of the World Cup season from 20-21 January before Rabenstein, Italy brings down the curtain on the World Cup season a week later. All this before the season concludes with the biennial World Championships, to be held in Champagny-en-Vanoise from 4-5 February.
The UIAA thanked the Korean Alpine Federation (KAF) for their excellent hospitality shown to all athletes, officials and spectators, and for their continued commitment to the development of competitive ice climbing.
(This story is received from the source mentioned and may or may not have any editing involved.)