Russia's Maria Tolokonina won the women's lead ice clmbing at the UIAA World Tour in Kirov ©UIAA

Russia secured gold medals in three of the four lead and speed categories as Kirov hosted the fifth and final stop in the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) Ice Climbing World Tour.

The only climber to buck the trend was South Korea’s 2017 world champion Woonseon Shin, whose second place on the day behind home climber Maria Tolokonina secured her overall victory in the women’s lead category.

The surprise semi-final exit of Russia’s World Tour leader Alexey Dengin, winner at three of the four preceding events, opened the way for his fellow countrymen in the men’s lead climbing.

Maxim Tomilov, with three silver medals in four World Cups, was the man who took that overall title, although he was not able to claim what would have been his first gold medal of the season, despite being one of only two men to top the course, as he finished second on the day to fellow countryman Nikolai Kuzovlev.

The latter stole victory with the last climb of the competition and then went on to win the men’s speed climbing overall title, despite losing in his quarter-final.

South Korea’s Lee YoungGeon, considered by many to be the natural heir to the great HeeYong Park, won men’s lead bronze medal on the day.

Tomilov earned his overall prize thanks to his consistency across the season.

His total of 371 points saw him edge out the absent Dengin.

Mohammadreza Safdarian, the first Iranian athlete to claim both a World Cup medal and a World Cup gold during the 2018 season, finished the season in third place overall with 318 points.

Tolokonina, the reigning world champion in speed climbing, was seeking her first gold medal of the season after two silvers and two bronzes, and reached the women’s lead final with the best record.

Her South Korean rivals Shin and Hannarai Song both registered impressive climbs, but the former slipped with seconds to spare at clip 12 and the latter fell at clip 11.

On her home wall, Tolokinina produced a measured and controlled performance coming close to the topping the route and taking that long-awaited gold medal.

Song was third, and for the fifth straight competition, Ekaterina Vlasova finished in fourth place.

Tolokonina took second place in the overall women’s lead finals with 390 points, and Song was third with 330.

Russia's Nikolai Kuzovlev won the men's lead climbing at the final UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour event before doing well enough in the speed climbing to secure the overall World Tour title ©UIAA
Russia's Nikolai Kuzovlev won the men's lead climbing at the final UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour event before doing well enough in the speed climbing to secure the overall World Tour title ©UIAA

Going into the final weekend of action, three Russian athletes - Ekaterina Koshcheeva, Natalia Belyaeva and Ekaterina Feoktistova - were in contention for the overall World Tour women’s speed title.

But it was another home climber, 17-year old Valeria Bogdan, who took the Kirov gold medal, excelling at her first World Cup of the season.

Bogdan had already underlined her potential by claiming both the speed and lead under-19 titles in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships in January. 

Of the front runners only Belyaeva made the last four, eventually claiming a bronze medal by virtue of winning her duel against Alena Vlasova.

Bogdan’s final duel triumph came against her coach Tolokonina, lead champion earlier in the day.

Despite losing to Vlasova in the first round of the finals, Koshcheeva hung on to take the seasonal crown with 375 points.

Belyaeva finished second on 365 and Feoktistova third having crashed out in the semi-finals.

The men’s speed final also saw the emergence of a young talent as Nikita Glazyrin, born in 2001, proved victorious in his first World Tour appearance of the season.

He made short work of the final duel defeating 19-year-old Anton Sukharev who failed to finish his first climb.

The quest for the overall title was thrown open due to the absence of competition leader Anton Nemov.

Despite losing his quarter final duel to Aleksander Mochalov, Kuzovlev took the seasonal crown on 346 points as closest challenger Ivan Spitsyn failed to make it past the semi-finals, eventually finishing second on 301, one point ahead of Nemov.