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Ice Climbing World Cup, 1st stage, Cheongsong, Korea
Photo by Anna Torretta
Ice Climbing World Cup, 1st stage, Cheongsong, Korea
Photo by Anna Torretta
Ice Climbing World Cup, 1st stage, Cheongsong, Korea
Photo by Anna Torretta
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Ice Climbing World Cup 2011, Bendler and Tolokonina win in Cheongsong, Korea


The first stage of the Ice Climbing World Cup took place in Cheongsong, Korea, on 8 and 9 January 2011 and was won by Markus Bendler from Austria and Maria Tolokonina from Russia. The Speed event was won by the Russians Maxim Tomilov and Irina Bagaeva.

No one knows that winters in Seoul, in South Korea, are extremely cold! Over 10 million people live in the capital and the temperatures hover around -10C! When we arrived everything was frozen, including the pavement, and shops had mega-heaters outside their windows to attract clients... The athletes, the guests and journalists were all welcomed at the airport and taken to the hotel, an hour's drive through the busy Seoul traffic.

The organisation was perfect and the Koreans bent over backwards to make everyone feel at ease. The female competitors had single rooms and European beds, the men had Korean beds, on the floor, and double of triple rooms. Cheongsong is famous in Korea for its apples and from today onwards it will be also be remembered for hosting the first stage of the Ice Climbing World Cup 2011!

The competition kicked off with a record number of participants, above all female, with 34 women and 42 men. There was also a record number of nations, including Asian countries such as Mongolia, China, Japan and obviously Korea. USA, Canada, Denmark and Holland were represented, too.

Angelika Rainer from Italy's South Tyrol led the qualification round together with the winner of the last two World Cups, Markus Bendler from Austria. Rainer continued her march in the Semi-final by reaching the top, and she was followed by Maria Tolokonina from Russia who topped out as well but needed slightly longer to do so. They were followed by Jeong Woon Wha (Kor), Lucie Hrozova (Cze), Shin Woon Seon (Kor), Anna Gallyamova (Rus), Stéphanie Maureau (Fra), and Felicitas Feller (Sui).

Alexey Dengin from Russia took command of the men's second round by achieving the only top in the Semi-Final. He was followed by Markus Bendler (Aus), Maxim Tomilov (Rus), Park Hee Yong (Kor), Valentyn Sypavin (Ukr), Manuel Córdova Alegre (Esp), Jung Weon Jo (Kor), Mitsugu Yoshida (Jpn).

In the women's final Angelika Rainer unfortunately fell victim to a small technical problem. Starting last, she was stopped by the judges for not having clipped a quickdraw. Still hanging to her ice axes she discussed the situation with the judges, and was then allowed to continue. But the judges changed their minds and she was stopped definitively two moves later. The incriminated quickdraw was hidden by the wind behind the wall, as Angelika had stated and after analysing the video the Italian athlete was permitted to climb a second time. Unfortunately the accumulated stress didn't help matters and she fell low down and slipped to seventh place. Which meant that the competition was won by Maria Tolokonina fro Russia, the only athlete to reach the top in the finals. Silver went to Shin Woon Seon from Korea, while bronze went to Lucie Hrozova from the Czech Republic.

In the men's final the story is much shorter but no less exciting as there were two gruelling last-second tops, with the chronometer stopped at 00.01. Both Yong Park Hee and Markus Bendler placed the picks in the blue hold at the exact same time, but the Austrian champion's better Semi-final result secured him overall victory. So: 1st place to Markus Bendler, 2nd to Yong Park Hee and 3rd to Alexey Tomilov, who also won the Speed event.

The Award ceremony came to an end in Cheong Song at 19:30, perfectly on-time, not a minute too late! This speaks volumes about the perfect Korean organisation. And then it was time for the big party...

Report by Anna Torretta

Women's Lead
1. Maria Tolokonina, Rus
2. Woon Sheon Shin, Kor
3. Lucie Horzova, Cze
Men's Lead
1. Markus Bendler, Aus
2. Hee Yong Park, Kor
3. Maxim Tomilov, Rus
Women's Speed
1. Bagaeva, Irina, Rus
2. Kulikova, Natalya, Rus
3. Tolokonina, Maria, Rus
Men's Speed
1. Tomilov, Maxim, Rus
2. Batushev, Pavel, Rus
3. Vlasov, Maxim, Rus

>> Ice Climbing World Cup 2011





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