Home advantage proved crucial in South Korea, six nations made the podium. UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, partnered by Outdoor Research, commenced with a World Cup event in Cheongsong
Experienced South Korean athletes Woonseon Shin and Younghye Kwon delighted home supporters during Sunday’s headline lead finals by taking the gold medals during a high-class competition. While the host nation claimed five of the twelve medals available, six other countries also saw athletes on the podium.
The lead finals are always the pinnacle of the World Cup in Cheongsong with local athletes regularly in contention for medals. Athletes from six countries contested the women’s final eight. Catalina Shirley from the United States had performed best in the semi-finals and would eventually claim a first World Cup lead medal with second place. Marianne van der Steen, dominant on the European circuit this winter, overcame adversity to take the bronze medal. Already feeling unwell, the Dutch athlete’s equipment did not arrive in time for the competition meaning she had to borrow tools. Despite the less than ideal preparation, she podiumed at a World Cup event for the first time. Gold went to Woonseon Shin, who with seconds to spare, was the only athlete to top the route. It was a typically graceful and efficient climb from the former World Tour winner.
In the men’s competition, the host nation provided five of the final eight athletes. Switzerland’s Benjamin Bosshard was the main threat to the local team. He had topped the route in the semi-final and would eventually claim the bronze medal, in the process denying 19-year old American climber Keenan Griscom a place on the podium. Kwon Younghye and Lee Younggeon would eventually contest the gold medal with the former prevailing.
There were no gold medals for the host nation in the duel format speed competition. Mongolia would claim the men’s speed title with Kherlen Nyamdoo and his compatriot Mandakhbayar Chuluubaatar contesting the title. Nyamdoo, eventual gold medallist, would better his bronze medal from the same event in 2023. This time third place went to Myungwook Yang of South Korea.
Aneta Louzecka is another athlete who has impressed on the European circuit. The Czech would claimed the women’s speed gold medal defeating Catalina Shirley who would leave the Asian leg of the UIAA World Tour with two silver medals. Sughee Lee, winner in Cheongsong last year, edged Poland’s Olga Kosek for bronze.
The UIAA thanks the Korean Alpine Federation for its excellent hosting of the event. Among the delegates in attendance were Youn Kyung-hee, Governor of Cheongsong-gun; Ga-Eun Sung, vice chair of the Youngone Corporation; UAAA President and UIAA Honorary Member Dr Injeong Lee; Dr Joong-Ho Son, President of the Korean Alpine Federation; UIAA Executive Committee and UIAA Ice Climbing Governance Group member Martin Lascano (photo below); Younghoon Oh, UIAA Management Board member and current continental representative for Asia; and UAAA General Secretary and former UIAA Management Board continental representative for Asia, Christine Pae.
The next World Cup, the second of three, will take place in Saas-Fee, Switzerland from 25-27 January.
Next weekend sees a festival of competition ice climbing on two continents. In Champagny-en-Vanoise, France, a European Continental Open and the UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships take place while in Ouray, United States, a North American Continental Open will be staged. Livestreaming will be provided from both competitions. Further details to follow.
Photos from the competition can be found here. Please credit UIAA/Rhea Kang
For the results from Cheongsong please click here.
UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD TOUR PARTNER