Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Ice Climbing World Championships return to Saas-Fee

From 22 - 24 January 2009 the world’s elite in ice climbing will be meeting once again in the glacier village of Saas-Fee. A good 100 athletes from 14 nations will be competing in the UIAA World Cup and World Championships as well as the Swiss Championships in ice climbing.
This is already the 10th time that the spectacular ice climbing competitions are being staged in Saas-Fee. An anniversary which the organisers can be particularly proud of since the aim was after all to put on a show of defiance in the face of global warming and the worldwide financial crisis. For the third time climbers will now be competing for the title of World Champion in the "lead" and "speed" disciplines. The World Championships will simultaneously be counting as the World Cup and Swiss Championships. The “lead” discipline involves a long, difficult climb with safety rope, reaching potential heights of up to 35m. Speed climbing, as the name suggests, involves top athletes climbing an approx. 15m high vertical ice wall in a time of around 13 seconds.
In the evenings the legendary ice climber parties will be extending from the depths of the Saas-Fee multi-storey car park (P10) to the foot of the competition ice wall. In addition, the competitions will be broadcast live to the party zone throughout the entire evening via large screens, with the highlights being shown later.
And even more action Nerves will be tingling with another showpiece. General members of the public as well as athletes in the competition will be practising on high and slack lines. A balancing act on a fixed plastic board 3cm wide and up to 16m long. This will be either stretched just above the ground or at a height of 10m. The objective is to balance along this “line” like an acrobat to reach the other end - an (almost) impossible task! A breathtaking game acting like a magnet and casting a spell over more and more people all the time.
The round tower of the 10 storey car park in Saas-Fee which enables the competitions to be held whatever the weather conditions, offers a marvellous backdrop for the audience. This means that every year the audience, a good 2,000 in all, can get a finger-tip view of the athletes from every floor of the car park’s spiral-shaped entrance ramp. Whilst deep below in the party zone the first guests are already getting their dancing shoes on and wildly celebrating the performances put on by the athletes.