American ice climbers have long known just how special Colorado is in terms of playing host to their sport. The Front Range has countless falls that freeze up in the winter, offering even the most experienced ice climbers all of the challenge they can handle. Now it appears that ice climbers from all over the world will have the opportunity to experience Colorado’s ice climbing for themselves, as it was recently announced that Denver will be playing host to the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup next year.
The event will take place February23-24 and it will be last chance for ice climbers to improve their ranking for the season. Previously, the United States hosted the event in both Bozeman, Montana and Durango, Colorado.
The announcement came in a press release from the American Alpine Club on June 26, in which the CEO of the AAC, Phil Powers, said the following: “We are proud to support our U.S. ice climbing athletes and bring this impressive event to downtown Denver. Competitive ice climbing is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever watched; the stamina, skill, and seeming impossibility of it all makes for an outstanding spectator experience. They’re up there doing crazy moves, wielding sharp tools and they hang on forever.”
The Civic Center Park will be the specific location for the event and observers can watch the competition for free. It’s estimated that 26 different countries will participate in the competition, bringing together nearly 200 athletes. Denver will mark the sixth stop of the 2019 World Cup season—the other events will take place in Champagny-en-Vanoise, France: Rabenstein, Italy: Saas-Fee, Switzerland; Hengshui City, Hebei Province, China, and Cheongsong, South Korea.
Many may find it surprising that ice climbing is not yet an Olympic sport. With the appropriate support that might all change, especially since rock climbing was recently added to the list of Summer Olympic sports. The 2020 Games in Tokyo will mark the debut of the sport in the Olympics. It should be noted that ice climbing is currently being considered for inclusion in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Beijing.