UIAA

Review: Ladevant brothers return to action in Champagny

The French Alps played host to three days of enthralling ice climbing from 19-21 January with the UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships and Continental Open hosted in Champagny-en-Vanoise.

The Continental Open series, contested by 77 athletes, resumed after events held in Slovakia, Czech Republic and the Netherlands before the close of 2023. For the first time this season, the reigning UIAA Ice Climbing World Champion in lead, Louna Ladevant, took to the stage. His home competition seemed the ideal stage, and so it proved. Ladevant had won the past two European continental competitions at the venue. First in qualification, he was last to climb in the final and as the light faded, he made short work of the route closing with a technical Figure 4 to become the only athlete to top and with over 90 seconds to spare. Louna’s success relegated older brother Tristan to second place. American youngster Keenan Griscom again performed impressively to take bronze.

Woonseon Shin backed up her gold medal at last weekend’s World Cup in Cheongsong with victory in her first European Continental Open of the season. Dutch athlete Marianne van der Steen, European Tour leader, claimed her fifth medal from six events this season to claim silver. Marion Salmon-Thomas took bronze to secure France’s third medal. Van der Steen and Spain’s Javier Cano Blázquez continue to lead the European competition with two further events in the UK and Finland scheduled for February.

Champagny also witnessed the World Youth Championships, held for U20, U18 and U16 age groups in both speed and lead. Medals went to athletes from ten different countries. Switzerland led the way with ten medals followed by Spain (5), Finland, Great Britain, Liechtenstein (4), Mongolia and the USA (3), Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland (1). Among the star turns were the youngest gold medallists Landers Gaydosh (14) and Jill Zollinger (13). Lorena Beck, winner of the U20 lead and speed competitions, also reached the last eight of the European Continental Open.

The new World Youth champions are:
U16, men’s lead – Landers Gaydosh (USA)
U16, women’s lead – Jill Zollinger (SUI)
U18, men’s lead – Lucas Perez Nietro (ESP)
U18, women’s lead – Kasha Ogilvie (GBR)
U20, mens’ lead – Tim Ziegler (SUI)
U20, women’s lead – Lorena Beck (LIE)

U16, men’s speed – Landers Gaydosh (USA)
U16, women’s speed – Lili Boijer-Spoof (FIN)
U18, men’s speed – Lars Erik Dolf (SUI)
U18, women’s speed – Mirre Wijnen (NED)
U20, men’s speed – Batzorig Munkhbaatar (MGL)
U20, women’s speed – Lorena Beck (LIE)

For a number of these national federations, success comes after significant investment in youth competition sport and a greater commitment to providing pathway programmes.

Highlights from the youth events can be found here:

The event was organised in collaboration with la Fédération Française des clubs alpins et de montagne (FFCAM) and La Plagne resort.

In parallel, a North American Continental Open was held in Ouray, Colorado between 18-20 January. A similar competition was staged in 2021 and offers North American ice climbers the perfect opportunity to compete ahead of next month’s UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup and World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.

Nearly 40 athletes took part from four countries, with over 30 athletes from the American Alpine Club competing. Victory was claimed by Tyler Dempney and Catalina Shirley. Both are regular competitors on the UIAA circuit with Shirley showing her skill and versatility in winning World Cup silver medals in both speed and lead in Cheongsong a week earlier. Highlights from the competition in 3D VAR format (use the drag tool to move the images) are below:

The next UIAA Ice Climbing competition is a World Cup held in Saas-Fee, Switzerland from 25-27 January. Saas-Fee has been a permanent feature of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour since the early 2000s.

Photos from Champagny-en-Vanoise
Results
WYCH Team Rankings

Photos: UIAA/Nils Paillard (Continental Open) and UAA/Julia Roger-Veyer (World Youth Championships)

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