Let’s See Paddling Go Urban Like This: UIAA World Cup Finals Make Ice Climbing a Viewer Friendly Sport in Denver

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On its inaugural stage in downtown Denver, the 2019 UIAA World Cup Ice Climbing Finals broke international records as the largest-ever audience for a World Cup Ice Climbing event — and received a record number of online views with hundreds of thousands more tuning in to watch the competition’s live stream.

The two-day World Cup Ice Climbing Finals, held in Civic Center Park, February 23 – 24, recorded a live crowd of more than 25,000, making the Denver World Cup Finals not only the most watched World Cup Ice Climbing event in the Tour’s history, but also one of the most well-spectated climbing events of all time.

The big story for Saturday evening’s Speed Finals was Canada’s David Bouffard, who became the first North American to claim a World Cup medal with silver. Nikolai Kuzovlev of Russia took Gold with a blistering fast climb of 6.48 seconds. Maria Tolokonina of Russia also took Gold in the Women’s Speed Final in a big weekend medal sweep.

Hosted and produced by the American Alpine Club, the event’s attendance more than doubled original expectations. And a seriously wintery weekend in Denver just added to the event’s excitement and icy ambience. American Alpine Club CEO, Phil Powers, said he had never witnessed such a massive audience for a climbing event. “We exceeded our attendance goals for the full weekend before the end of the first day. People were blown away by the athleticism and intensity of the competition — I have no doubt many new ice climbers were created this weekend,” said Powers.

Located in Denver’s historic Civic Center Park, the competition was hosted in an urban setting that provided a more diverse audience in comparison to the Tour’s regular stops in mountain towns.

Sunday evening’s Lead Finals had an electric atmosphere as just two men topped out on the 60-ft structure: 21-year-old Yannick Glatthard of Switzerland and Nikolai Kuzovlev of Russia. Glatthard, dubbed ‘Swiss Air’ for his flying, daring style, topped out 11 seconds faster than Kuzovlev, claiming the Gold with a dramatic victory leap off the top of the structure in front of an enthralled crowd. The women’s lead final left no less exhilaration with Maria Tolokonina of Russia nudging out Woonseon Shin of South Korea by a mere touch of the eleventh (and final) hold.

For complete results and World Cup Tour recap, visit: https://www.theuiaa.org/ice-climbing/

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