u.s. athletes

As the UIAA Member Federation, the AAC has the responsibility to connect with all U.S. athletes wishing to compete in UIAA International World Cup Events. The AAC provides licenses to compete and registers athletes at competitions they will be attending. 

The 2016/2017 World Cup Season concluded in Champagny, France where the World Championships and Youth World Championships were held. This year the U.S. had a total of 13 athletes compete in IWC events across the globe. Additionally, the U.S. sent 7 youth competitors to Campagny to compete in the Youth Championships, where the team took 3rd Place. The North American Youth Team's Facebook page can be found HERE.

Video linked from UIAA.org

WHAT YOU NEED TO COMPETE:

  • UIAA Competition License: This can ONLY be obtained through your countries member federation to the UIAA. In the United States, the American Alpine Club is the sole granter of UIAA licenses for ice climbing competition. 
  • Individual Competition or Season Pass Registration: Each UIAA International World Cup stop must receive an athletes registration from the countries member federation to the UIAA. Again, the American Alpine Club is the sole organization that can register athletes for individual IWC events or the season pass of IWC events. Registration is limited and a formal ranking process is being developed for the time when the U.S. has more athletes request registration than the U.S. has registration slots. 
  • U.S. Ice Comp Series: A series of local comps is being assessed to help in ranking individuals wishing to compete in IWC events. This system will be valuable if the International Olympic Committee were to decide that Ice Climbing is a official sport in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. 

U.S. ATHLETE PROFILE

Kendra Stritch 

35 Years Old

Stillwater, MN

10 years climbing

9 years ice climbing

10 years competing in rock climbing

7 years competing ice climbing

6 years competing in UIAA International World Cups

Who introduced you to climbing?

My brother, Carter, introduced me to climbing.  He had been rock and ice climbing for years and took me out a couple time but I didn't really start climbing until grad school when I was no longer eligible to play collegiate rugby. We had a climbing gym on campus at RIT and Carter was doing his undergraduate there also.  

Who introduced you to competitive climbing?

I've been a competitive athlete since I was nine (slalom ski racing, tennis, soccer, rugby, anything else I can try) so when I started climbing it was natural to compete.  The first month I was climbing I won the beginner division at the climbing competition in Albany, NY.

What's your favorite thing about competitive ice climbing?My favorite thing about competitive ice climbing is always having a new, unique route to figure out.  It's also an amazing community of people from all over the world.

What events did you compete in during the 2016/2017 season?

This last competition season (dec 2016 - March 2017) I competed in all of the Ice Climbing World Cup events (US, China, South Korea, Switzerland, Italy) as well as the Ice Climbing World Championships in France.  I also competed in the first outdoor ice climbing world cup style introductory competition at Peabody Ice Climbing in Michigan in March.  This competition was put on be 2 Canadian world cup athletes and a couple WC athletes participated but we had 30 other participants who were mostly completely new to this style of climbing.  I also helped my brother host the annual speed climbing competition at a festival in Minnesota.

I also became a UIAA Ice Climbing Judge this year and judged the Youth World Championship in France in March. This event was significant for the US because it was the first time we had a team of youth athletes participate (instead of just one or two individuals).

Do you see the United State's level of interest growing for competitive ice climbing?

In the last year we've seen a huge spike in interest in ice climbing competitions in the US. This is super exciting and there's plans for a lot more local events to get people involved, interested, and excited. 

What sponsors, if any, help get you to competitions?

I don't have any sponsors since ice climbing competitions are just starting to become more known and supported in the US.  There are a few companies like RAB, LOWA, and Opticus that have helped me out with a little gear.  Hopefully more of the US companies will become interesting in helping support and grow this really unique style of climbing.  In Russia, Asia, and Europe a lot of the climbing companies and other more general companies support the athletes and events with money and gear. 

Are you hopeful that the sport will be an official Olympic sport in Beijing 2022?

I am excited that winter climbing is on the campaign to be included in the Winter Olympics with good hope since summer climbing has been accepted and will make its debut in 2020. The Olympics bring a lot of attention to the included sports and it would go a long way in introducing more adults and youth to our unique and amazing sport. 


Banner photo: Courtesty of UIAA