On the weekend the XXIII Olympic Winter Games commence some 120 kilometres further north in PyeongChang, the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup heads to Cheongsong, one of the traditional stops on its World Tour.
As the penultimate round of the 2018 World Tour, results in Cheongsong are likely to have a significant bearing on the final classifications when verdicts are decided during the season finale in Kirov, Russia from 2-4 March.
The World Cup event in Cheongsong provides the perfect stage for the UIAA to showcase the sport in the home country of the Games, itself an ice climbing hotbed. For the 21 South Korean athletes registered for the event – which comprises the Asian Championships – Cheongsong has an extra significance.
In the women’s lead competition South Korean athletes Woonseon Shin and Hannarai Song have claimed the three gold medals on offer so far this season. They currently occupy first and third position in the standings with Russia’s Maria Tolokonina also in strong contention. Song has a 100% record this season claiming golds in Saas-Fee and Rabenstein before missing last weekend’s competition in Hohhot, China which was won by Shin.
The men’s lead event is set to see the return to the World Tour of the charismatic and popular HeeYong Park, defending World Champion and World Tour winner. Park is a perennial winner in Cheongsong. His presence will add extra edge to a competition which Iran’s Mohammadreza Korouyeh Safdarian currently leads. His advantage over Russia’s Maxim Tomilov is a mere five points.
The Lead semi-finals take place on Saturday 10 February, 15:20-17:40 local time. The Finals will be held the following day from 14:00-16:00.