Edmonton, UIAA

New world champions crowned in Edmonton

The identity of the new UIAA world champions were revealed during a spectacular weekend of ice climbing in downtown Edmonton.

Emerging victorious were athletes from three different countries:
Woonseon Shin, South Korea in women’s lead
Younggeon Lee, South Korea in men’s lead
Aneta Louzecka, Czech Republic in women’s speed
Mohammadreza Safdarian, Iran in men’s speed

The competition was the first UIAA-sanctioned event to be held in Canada since 2002. Staged on a new, purpose-built 19mx27m structure near the Edmonton Oilers hockey arena, the event draw thousands of spectators to create an electric atmosphere. The organisers, YEG Ice Fest by the Alpine Club of Canada Edmonton Section and supported by Explore Edmonton, put together a memorable competition evoking memories of a similar urban event held in Denver, Colorado in 2019.

As well as crowning the biennial world champions, the event in Edmonton also acted as the final World Cup of the season following competitions in South Korea and Switzerland. The winners of the World Tour (a league table format) are revealed below.

The UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour is partnered by Outdoor Research.

Edmonton Preview: Lead/Difficulty

Winner of both World Cups to date. Top athlete in the qualifications and semi-finals. Woonseon Shin’s complete domination of the women’s World Tour lead discipline continued in Edmonton. In Canada she took not only the World Tour seasonal ranking but her fourth world championship title following successes in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Only Petra Klingler’s victory in Saas-Fee in 2022 has stopped the South Korean from winning five in a row. Although there was no show stopping topping of the Edmonton route, Shin was able to climb narrowly higher than the challenging Swiss athletes, Sina Goetz and Franziska Schönbächler who took silver and bronze.

It was a case of double joy for the Korean team with Lee Younggeon winning both the men’s world championship title and the World Tour rankings in the process. He wasn’t quite as peerless as Shin having failed to win in Saas-Fee, however as the only athlete to top the route this weekend he rounded off an incredible season in style. With three seconds to spare he was able to make the decisive move to top to the delight of thousands of spectators and while shadowed by the city’s imperious skyscrapers. Keenan Griscom (above) became the first American athlete to make the World Championships podium taking silver. Aged just 20, he has a very bright future in the sport. Benjamin Bosshard took third to complete an excellent weekend for the Swiss team. Younggeon’s victory also meant that South Korea claimed the team rankings.

Women’s World Tour standings:
1. Woonseon Shin (KOR), 2. Sina Goetz (SUI), 3.
Marion Salmon-Thomas (FRA)

Women’s World Championships standings:
1. Woonseon Shin (KOR), 2. Sina Goetz (SUI), 3.Franziska Schönbächler (SUI)

Men’s World Tour standings:
1. Lee Younggeon (KOR), 2. Keenan Griscom (USA), 3. Virgile Devin (FRA)

Men’s World Championships standings:
1. Lee Younggeon (KOR), 2. Keenan Griscom (USA), 3. Benjamin Bosshard (SUI)

Final World Tour lead rankings

Livestream replay

Edmonton Preview: Speed

The speed competition was duel format – athlete versus athlete. Each athlete had two runs up the speed wall, both left and right. The climber with the fastest combined score won the duel.

The men’s competition was billed as a head-to-head between Team Iran and Team Mongolia. Mongolian athletes had taken the two World Cups to date while an Iranian, Mohsen Beheshti Rad, sat second in the seasonal standings and went to Edmonton as the defending world champion. However it was another athlete from Iran who would claim the gold. In 2018 Mohammadreza Safdarian (above) became the first climber from the country to win a UIAA gold medal when triumphing in Rabenstein, Italy. That was in the lead, a discipline Safdarian has more frequently excelled in.

In Edmonton, the one-day speed competition was intense. The final four whittled down to Safdarian versus Kherlen Nyamdoo and for the bronze medal Beheshti Rad against Andreas Gantner of Liechtenstein. Winning the first duel put Safdarian in the driving seat and he managed any nerves to defeat the Mongolian athlete in the second climb to win by a margin of nearly three seconds. It was a similar gap between Beheshti Rad and Gantner with the Iranian winning bronze. Team Mongolia was able to celebrate overall World Tour victory with Chuluunbaatar Mandakhbayar winning the series despite an eighth place in Edmonton.

Aneta Louzecka (above) was the favourite for the female title have won a gold and silver in her two World Cups and having enjoyed a dominant continental season. And so it proved. The Czech athlete performed impressively throughout and kept her composure to offer a near flawless display in the final to see off the challenge from Lea Beck. Louzecka would also seal the World Tour title. Bronze went to Nyamdoo Selenge of Mongolia who took her first her medal to cap off a memorable season for the emerging Mongolian team.

Final Men’s World Tour standings:
1. Mandakhbayar Chuluunbaatar (MGL), 2. Mohammadreza Safdarian (IRN), 3. Mohsen Beheshti Rad (IRN)

Men’s World Championships standings:
1. Mohammadreza Safdarian (IRN), 2. Kherlen Nyamdoo (MGL), 3. Mohsen Beheshti Rad (IRN) 

Final Women’s World Tour standings:
1. Aneta Louzecka (CZE), 2. Olga Kosek (POL), 3. Lorena Beck (LIE)

Women’s World Championships standings:
1. Aneta Louzecka (CZE), 2. Lea Beck (LIE), 3. Nyamdoo Selenge (MGL)

Final World Tour speed rankings

Livestream replay

Following the UIAA events, the structure will remain open as part of an ice climbing festival – YEG Ice Fest – where the general public can test their skills and learn more about the sport. Further details here.

Mountain Voices Podcast: What is Competition Ice Climbing?

Want to discover more about the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour? Look no further than the new UIAA podcast, Mountain Voices. Across each episode, experts from the climbing and mountaineering world discuss issues that impact climbers and mountaineers. Episode #1, available on all major podcast platforms, addresses competition ice climbing and features the contributions of Rob Adie, UIAA Sports Event Coordinator, as well as athletes Gordon McArthur and Eimir McSwiggan.

Photos (more to be added) from the event are available on the UIAA Flickr Channel

Results from the World Championships are available here

Main photo: Lee Younggeon tops the route in Edmonton to take gold in the men’s lead competition. Credit for all photos: Slobodan Mišković 



Top Stories