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The 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour Begins Tomorrow

The five-event tour, which will feature some 300 athletes from around the globe, kicks off in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

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As the Ouray Ice Festival kicks off today on this side of the pond, tomorrow marks the start of the 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour on the other, with the first event of the season to be held in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

The season opener will feature men and women climbers from 20+ countries, including home-country favorite Petra Klingler, who was the 2016 IFSC bouldering world champion and won Switzerland’s first UIAA ice climbing gold in the lead competition in Kirov, Russia in 2015.

There is a long history of ice climbing in Saas-Fee, and the World Cup has returned to the town for nearly two decades. The mountains above town boast high quality routes and there are specialized training facilities. What makes Saas-Fee a favorite venue for the World cup is its “ice dome”—a coliseum-like complex with tiered viewing levels, allowing spectators to watch the action at eye-level even when the climbers are near the tops of the routes.

The rest of the World Cup season will see stops in Rabenstein, Italy; Hohhot, China; Cheongsong, South Korea; and Kirov, Russia.

South Koreans HeeYong Park and Hannarai Song were the 2017 Tour champions in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, and Russians Vladimir Kartashev and Ekaterina Koshcheeva and Maria Tolokonina were the champions in the speed divisions. They are likely the athletes to beat in the 2018 installments, except for HeeYong Park who will not be competing this year, leaving the door open for whichever man is up to the challenge. Three Americans will competing in the Saas-Fee event: Kevin Lindlau and Carter Stritch in the men’s bracket, and Kendra Stritch in the women’s bracket.

The Saas-Fee event will be livestreamed Friday, January 19, and Saturday, January 20—come back to this page and watch it below!

Also read U.S. Team Performs at the 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships