The most significant weekend of UIAA ice climbing action in nearly two years will take place in the Swiss Alps from Thursday 27 to Saturday 29 January.
Hosting both the UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships and UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships, is the iconic competition venue in Saas-Fee.
The headline act is the biennial World Championships. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic most competition ice climbing over the past two years has taken place at a continental level. Only one World Cup event – in Kirov, Russia – was staged in 2021. The same venue hosted the last UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships in March 2019. On that occasion local athletes reigned supreme taking three of the four titles. In speed, Vladislav Iurlov and Maria Tolokonina took the crowns; Nikolai Kuzovlev won the men’s lead title with Korea’s Woonseon Shin victorious in the female event.
This coming week, an impressive cast of international athletes will contest the World Championships crowns.
Livestreaming will be available from all finals (Speed, Lead – including Youth age categories as well as the Lead Semi-Finals) on the UIAA YouTube Channel (subscribe for updates) as well as on Facebook. Embed codes can be found below. The event programme with official timings can be viewed here.
Women: The female athletes registered hail from 13 countries. Switzerland will be well represented with star turns Petra Klingler and Sina Goetz, second and first in last week’s UIAA Ice Climbing European Cup in Malbun, part of a strong team. Finland’s four athletes include current European Tour leader Enni Bertling, Ireland’s World Cup regular Eimir McSwiggan returns to competition action while multi world champion Maria Tolokonina will mount a challenge for an ambitious double in lead and speed. Poland’s Olga Kosek and the Netherlands’s Marianne van der Steen also bring considerable Saas-Fee experience. The United States will arrive with an impressive six-strong team. Other countries represented are France, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Lichtenstein and Slovakia.
Men: Male athletes from 18 countries will be in attendance. Unsurprisingly hosts Switzerland are well represented with eight athletes. Among its ranks is former World Cup winner Yannick Glatthard. Also in attendance is multiple World Cup winner Nikolai Kuzovlev and one of the fastest ice climbers on the planet in Anton Nemov; the United States bring six athletes including World Tour regular Kevin Lindlau. France will fancy its chances with defending World Tour winner Louna Ladevant, victor at the UIAA Ice Climbing European Cup in Malbun last weekend and current European Tour leader Virgile Devin part of its squad. Athletes are also competing for Azerbaijan, Canada, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Iran, Japan, Lichtenstein, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
In parallel, U16, U19 and U22 World Youth titles will be decided. The Youth competition is an annual event with the last edition held in March 2021 in Tyumen, Russia. For the first time, the two competitions will be held at the same time, offering youth climbers the opportunity to learn from senior ice climbers and to receive additional coverage through the UIAA’s international platforms including competition livestream.
Qualification commences on Thursday. The speed competition will be decided on Friday evening, the lead on Saturday evening. Saas-Fee always attracts a significant crowd who can follow the action from multiple vantage points across the tiered structure.
The event is organised in conjunction with the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC).
All photos: UIAA/Kaspar Kellerhals
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