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Ice Climbing World Cup to premiere in Asia in 2011
02 Mar 2010
The first-ever UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup event on Asian soil will take place in the 2011 competition season.
The Korean Alpine Federation (KAF) will host Speed and Lead competitions in January 2011, kicking off the circuit for the season. In Speed, athletes race up an ice face for the best time. In Lead competitions the climbers' ability to master a difficult route in a given time is tested.
World Cup events will then move west from Korea to Europe. While it may be Korea’s first time putting on a World Cup event, Koreans certainly aren’t newcomers to the Ice Climbing scene.
The last weekend of the 2010 World Cup, held in Busteni, Romania, saw strong performances from Korean climbers Shin Woon Seon and Hee Yong Park, who won the final Lead competitions in the women's and men's events respectively. And Lead competitions take place all over Korea throughout the winter season, says Andrej Pecjak, a member of the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission who visited Korea in January to observe several competitions. “Ice Climbing is like a national sport in Korea,” Pecjak said in a report about his visit.
Korea also boasts natural icefalls that draw climbers, such as the 300-meter Tuan icefall. First ascents on Korean icefalls mainly took place in the early 1970s. The first competitions were organised in the late 90s.
Today, Korean athletes can train year-round at a 20-meter-tall, artificial indoor ice wall. And sport events are developed under the guidance of the Korean Alpine Federation, Pecjak explains. At an event Pecjak attended, 306 people competed, divided into men, women, youth and senior categories in Lead.
Up next for the Koreans: Hosting a UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup event, the world’s premiere ice climbing competition circuit.
"This is a welcome event for all Korean climbers. As the first UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup in an Asian country, it will greatly motivate climbers in Korea, as well as those in Japan and China," says In Jeong Lee, KAF President. "We are very happy to join the effort to be part of the Winter Olympics which is UIAA's ultimate Olympic goal. We will do our best to make the event successful and ask European and American climbers to participate in the 2011 UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup competition in Korea."
In 2011, the circuit would begin in Korea, then move to Europe. In addition, the UIAA is working toward showcasing Ice Climbing competitions in Sochi, Russia at the same time as the 2014 Winter Olympics. Discussions with the Sochi Olympic Organising Committee have indicated that Ice Climbing could be welcome as part of the “Live Events” being planned for the general public.
Ultimately, the UIAA is working toward Ice Climbing’s inclusion in the Winter Olympics.
“The event in Asia will certainly boost Ice Climbing as a sport, especially in Japan and China, and will also give us more credibility to achieve our Olympics goal,” Pecjak adds.
The UIAA launched the Ice Climbing World Cup in 2000. The UIAA is the International Olympic Committee’s recognised international federation for mountaineering and natural surface climbing.
With 74 member organisations in 56 countries, the UIAA represents more than 1 million mountaineers and climbers worldwide.