UIAA

Preview: 2024 Saas-Fee UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup

The Event

The second UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup of the 2023-2024 season, partnered by Outdoor Research, will be held in the Swiss Alps from 25-27 January. The resort of Saas-Fee has hosted top-level UIAA ice climbing competition since the early 2000s. The event is organised in partnership with the Swiss Alpine Club and the host team, led by Kurt Arnold and Dario Andenmatten.

Saas-Fee is a distinct venue. Built within the resort entry point, it is located deep underground, is renowned for its cold temperatures and welcomes hundreds of spectators who pack vantage points which wrap the competition tower.

Programme

Friday 26 January will witness the lead qualification rounds before the speed competition takes over with action completed in a day. The speed finals, athlete against the clock format, start at 20:00 local time. Saturday 27 January is reserved for the lead semi-finals and finals. The latter, commencing at 19:00 local time, is the main event and brings in huge crowds. The full event programme can be found here.

Athletes and National Teams

A total of 112 athletes from 20 countries are currently registered. The United States (15 athletes) and host nation Switzerland (14) lead the way with home fans hoping to see a repeat of past gold medal climbs from the likes of Yannick Glatthard, Sina Goetz and Petra Klingler.

In the lead competition, Woonseon Shin of South Korea will be the athlete to beat. Shin won the opening World Cup leg in Cheongsong and triumphed at the Continental Open in France last weekend. However, Saas-Fee has not always been a lucky venue. Last year she failed to qualify for the final and victory in Switzerland has eluded her since 2019. Challenges will come from local athletes Sina Goetz, Saas-Fee winner in 2023, and Vivien Labarile. European Tour leader Marianne van der Steen will seek to build on the first World Cup medal she won last time out. Impressive as double UIAA World Youth Champion last weekend, Liechtenstein’s Lorena Beck, and sister Lea are likely to push in both the lead and speed events. Czech Republic’s Aneta Louzecka, enjoying an impressive season, Ireland’s Eimir McSwiggan, Poland’s Olga Kosek and France’s Marion Salmon-Thomas, third in Champagny last weekend, will all have making the top eight final in firm focus.

The men’s competition, dominated by South Korea in Cheongsong, could well be a French affair. Reigning world champion Louna Ladevant returned to competition last weekend in Champagny and produced a virtuoso performance to take the gold medal. A strong French team also includes Louna’s older brother Tristan, silver medallist in Champagny, Nathan Clair and Virgile Devin. The Iranian squad are primarily focused on the speed discipline but Mohammad Reza Safdarian is an athlete who has performed impressively in lead before. The emerging athletes from Spain notably Javier Cano Blazquez and Jorge Veiga Rodriguez will seek to turn impressive continental form into the World cup format. Switzerland’s chief threat is likely to come from Benjamin Bosshard.

In the speed events, the men’s competition should produce a thrilling contest between athletes from Iran and Mongolia. World champion Mohsen Beheshti Rad of Iran will be in attendance and has climbed to victory in Saas-Fee before. Mongolia’s Kherlen Nyamdoo claimed the first gold of the season in Cheongsong with compatriot Mandakhbayar Chuluubaatar taking the silver. The South Korean team, notably Yang Myungwook will also be in contention.

The women’s event may be more open with only Louzecka of the three medal winners from South Korea likely to feature. The Beck sisters, Kosek, Labarile and a strong squad from the United States will all hope to contest the dramatic final rounds.

Breakdown of athletes per national federation:

Canada (1), Czech Republic (5), Finland (2), France (7), Great Britain (10), Germany (3), Hong Kong, China (2), Iran (9), Ireland (1), Japan (7), Liechtenstein (6), Mongolia (6), Netherlands (2), Poland (5), Slovenia (2), South Korea (6), Spain (4), Switzerland (14), Slovakia (5), United States (15)

A full list of registered athletes can be found here.

How to follow

A livestream of the competition will be available from the UIAA YouTube channel. Please subscribe for updates.

Start times:

Speed final, Friday 26 January, 2000 CET, 1900 UTC, 1400 ET, 1300 PT

Lead semi-final – women, Saturday 27 January, 0845 CET, 0745 UTC, 0245 ET, 1145 PT (*)

Lead semi-final – men, Saturday 27 January, 1300 CET, 1200 UTC, 0700 ET, 0200 PT
Lead finals, Saturday 27 January, 1900 CET, 1800 UTC, 1300 ET, 1000 PT

For additional time zone details please click here.
(*) indicates day before

Embed codes and links for the livestreams can be found here:

Further Information

Preview and review press releases are distributed for all world-level events. To subscribe to press releases please click here.

Photos, free of restrictions for editorial use, are posted for each competition on the UIAA Flickr channel. A selection of season preview images for media use can be found here.

Follow the UIAA social media channels, notably Instagram and Facebook, to access short-form content and live updates from competitions.

Live results are available for all events here. Visit the UIAA Ice Climbing website for individual event programmes and registrations.

Photos: UIAA/Kaspar Kellerhals

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