In a gripping World Cup lead final, Petra Klingler sensationally won the gold medal on Saturday evening in Sass-Fee's "Ice Dome". Her teammate Franziska Schönbächler climbed onto the podium with her and finished third. Benjamin Bosshard secures the third Swiss medal. The only 19-year-old from Graubünden became vice world champion on his World Cup debut.

Saas-Fee has been welcoming the world's best ice climbers to its legendary multi-storey car park for over 20 years. Since Thursday, 32 elite and junior athletes from over 152 nations have been fighting for world championship gold in the lead and speed disciplines in the 20-metre-high, nine-storey «Ice Dome».

Incredible comeback after three years

Petra Klingler (Bonstetten ZH), Olympian and Bouldering World Champion 2016, has delighted the home crowd at the World Cup several times in recent years with her fighting spirit. Her last appearance on the ice wall was three years ago.

Also today it was the 29-year-old who really heated up the cauldron of Saas-Fee in her final round. From the start she climbed confidently, purposefully and moved through the final route as if she had never taken a break. Shortly before the end of the seven and a half minutes available, the Swiss, carried by the home crowd, reached the top.

The joy of her performance was written all over Petra Klingler's face. (Photo Kaspar Kellerhals)
The joy of her performance was written all over Petra Klingler's face. (Photo Kaspar Kellerhals)

Before and also after the final route of the Swiss, no finalist could reach the top. So the sensation was perfect. "I'm just speechless," said the newly crowned world champion, who only resumed her ice training last December.

"I'm just speechless."

Petra Klingler

In addition to Petra Klingler, newcomer Franziska Schönbächler (Bern BE) also climbed onto the podium. The 24-year-old, who is a member of the current SAC women's expedition team, showed great nerves of steel when she took part in the World Cup for the first time and climbed the third highest.

Impressions of the finals at the Ice Climbing World Championships in Saas Fee

In the men's race, 19-year-old Benjamin Bosshard (Morissen GR) was, somewhat surprisingly, the only one from the Swiss men's team to make it into the lead final. The man from Graubünden climbed smoothly and calmly through the final route and only a few moves before the top hold did he have to end his final round because of the elapsed time. Only the very last athlete and later winner Louna Ladevant (FRA) was able to surpass Benjamin Bosshard's record and climbed to the top. For the Swiss, the Vice World Champion title is by far his greatest success to date.

Strong Swiss team performance

Thanks to a total of five lead finalists, the SAC Swiss Ice Climbing Team impressed with a strong team performance. In addition to the Swiss medal winners, Vivien Labarile (Niedergesteln VS) and Laura von Allmen (Bern BE) also made it into the final. Both fell in the same place and finished 4th and 5th.

Four medals for Swiss junior team

For the first time ever, the world championships for the junior categories (U16, U19, U21) and the elite took place at the same time. A unique opportunity for the ice climbing stars of tomorrow to look over the shoulders of their role models and get tips from the pros. In addition to climbing for precious metal, the main focus for the young athletes is on gaining experience for future competitions. The U16 athlete Lars Dolf (Almens GR) won the bronze medal twice in speed and lead climbing. The siblings Celina (U19) and Benjamin Bosshard (U21, Morissen GR) each provided a silver medal in the Lead discipline for precious metal number 3 and 4 for the Swiss junior team.

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Credits: cover picture Kasper Kellerhals, text Swiss Alpine Club SAC