The UIAA and its Olympic Goal

Our mission to bring ice climbing into the Winter Olympic Games.

One of the ultimate goals of the UIAA is to bring ice climbing into the official competition programme of the Winter Olympic Games. The date is set – 2022 in Beijing, China.

International Olympic Committee

Over twenty years in the Olympic movement

The UIAA has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee since 1995 and has organised the sport of ice climbing since 2002. The first steps taken on route to 2022 were made in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. There, ice climbing was presented to the public and Olympic community at the Olympic Park during the Winter Olympic Games. This was followed in 2016 by the appearance of ice climbing as part of the non-competition programme at the Winter Youth Olympic Games held in Lillehammer in February, 2016. The next goal is for ice climbing to be showcased in Pyeongchang, at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. These valuable opportunities have enabled ice climbing to be showcased in front of the Olympic family and to the wider public.

2022 Olympic Vision

“We have organised the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour for 15 years and in that time have witnessed the incredible growth in popularity of the sport throughout the world,” explains UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt. “Ice climbing is a dynamic sport, combining determination, technique, speed, precision and excitement. The sport is increasingly appealing to young people, evident by the number of international climbers who take part in our World Youth Championships.”

Ice climbing combines the allure of the winter sport environment with fast-paced action, intelligence and determination. In the lead discipline, ice climbers require great technique, tactical mastery and nerves of steel in executing complex moves in seemingly improbable positions. The speed discipline is almost a vertical take on the 100m sprint in athletics. Its about raw power, core strength and aggression.

Youth Future of Ice Climbing
From UIAA – Climbing & Mountaineering
Frits Vrijlandt on the “spectacular” sport of Ice Climbing
From UIAA – Climbing & Mountaineering
Ice Climbing Festival | Highlights
From UIAA – Climbing & Mountaineering
UIAA World Youth Championships, Rabenstein
From UIAA – Climbing & Mountaineering

Winter Olympic Games, Sochi 2014

The dream of the UIAA to one day have ice climbing as part of the Winter Olympics received a huge boost when the sport was featured at Olympic Park during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Part of the Ice Climbing Festival, it included a Speed wall and a Lead structure, built with the generous support of sponsor Sberbank, which saw thousands of visitors witness ice climbing and dry tooling for the first time.

At the centre of it all was a group of international and Russian climbers from the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup who wowed spectators with their abilities.

The format was a dual lead route with two athletes climbing similar routes at the same time. The same was the case for the Speed wall. Two people competing against each, the first one to reach the top wins.

UIAA President Frits Virjlandt who took a crack at climbing the ice wall said it was a thrill to see ice climbing being demonstrated at Olympic Park and watch the crowds of visitors who enjoyed the spectacle.

“We have our own Olympic ambition,” said Frits Vrijlandt, adding any exposure of ice climbing to the world raises the profile of the sport. “What happened in Sochi can only be good for us.”

Archive of stories from Sochi

Click to download for further reading.

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8 April 2014

Olympic officials praise UIAA for role in display of ice climbing at Winter Olympics
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7 March 2014

Para-ice climbing makes its debut in Ufa, Russia
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25 February 2014

Ice climbing draws attention in Sochi
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23 February 2014

Canadians soar in what could be new Olympic sport
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12 February 2014

Marc Beverly and Alexey Tomilov demonstrate Lead in Sochi
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7 February – 20 February 2014

Olympic Blog: American reporter challenges Russia’s Ivan Spitsin on the wall, CTV News covers Nathan, Jen and Gord and other updates from Sochi
read more

Winter Youth Olympic Games

Lillehammer 2016

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Following on from its popular appearance in the Olympic Park at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, ice climbing featured as part of the sports initiation programme at the 2nd edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games held in Lillehammer, Norway, from 12-21 February.

Ice Climbing was part of the Sjoggfest (meaning snow festival and named after the event mascot, Sjogg) where a dedicated ice climbing wall, located at the Tyrili Climbing Centre, was open throughout the event. Two separate ice climbing opportunities were organised at the wall: ‘showcase’ and ‘get active’.

The UIAA worked closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the LYOGOC (Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee)  and Tyrili climbing center in defining a specific programme for ice climbing.

The showcase event saw some of the world’s best youth ice climbers, from countries including France, Iran, Russia, Switzerland and the United States, demonstrate ice climbing techniques and engage in exciting speed duels. The ‘get active’ element of the programme allowed visitors, fellow athletes and journalists, the opportunity to try out ice climbing under the guidance of expert coaches and athletes.

Among the visitors at the ice climbing wall was IOC President Thomas Bach who met athletes and coaches and experienced a live showcase. Throughout the week, the ice climbing wall proved one of the more popular and challenging attractions. ‘Fun, dynamic, crazy, exciting, tough, fast…’ were some of the more commonly heard phrases from those trying the sport out for the first time.

“We were delighted to be part of Lillehammer 2016,” explained Frits Vrijlandt. “Following on from Sochi in 2014, it is vital we maintain this momentum and presence within the Olympic family. The engagement from the public was incredible and it reiterated how engaging and appealing this sport is. Furthermore, being part of the youth movement is crucial, the UIAA recently hosted an extremely competitive World Youth Championships and the commitment and passion of these young athletes is key to the sport’s growth.”

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Images courtesy of Ian Jones/IOC

Lillehammer 2016 Photo Gallery

A dedicated Lillehammer 2016 photo gallery is available to view on the UIAA Flickr account, below. Images provided by athletes and official photographers from the IOC and the Youth Winter Olympic Games.

For further details about the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games please visit: lillehammer2016.com

Archive of Stories from Lillehammer

Youth Olympic Games Welcomes Ice Climbing
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One Day To Lillehammer
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Ice Climbing Wall Open at Lillehammer 2016
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Ice Climbing scales new heights at Lillehammer 2016
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UIAA Partner

The North Face Korea

The North Face Korea has been proud sponsor of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour since 2013.