These were not alpinism competitions actually. These were competitions in one of alpinism disciplines – ice climbing. This is a young, but very popular and dynamic kind of sport which is already a part of the Olympic family. The IOC recognized the kind of sport as Olympic. Now we are working on including it into the program of Winter Olympic Games. In Sochi ice climbing will be presented as a cultural program; spectators and guests of the Olympics will have an opportunity to see what ice climbing is and try it.
Let’s say, it is one of alpinism disciplines which holds its own competitions, national and international championships, world contests and cups. This is the cycle for 2013. The competition cycle in ice climbing includes four-five world cups, and once in two years we hold World Championship. It has two disciplines: “difficulty” and “speed.” The discipline “difficulty” requires climbing on artificial relief which has some elements made of ice. “Speed” means climbing on ice – a vertical 19-meter wall. Two athletes climb as fast as they can, the winner comes first. It is an exciting and interesting discipline. Very dramatic.
If we speak about best personal results, Russia is the leader in “speed.” The final of the world championship was like a national championship of Russia. Nobody could get into final along with Russians, even though in this season foreign sportsmen sometimes won. A representative of the Netherlands won one of European Cups in “speed.” But generally it is thought that “speed” is a discipline where Russians are strong, at the same time they are strong in “difficulty” as well. As for the team competitions, among 18 countries Russia got the first place, the second place was taken by Azerbaijan, Ukraine is in the third place. Then, the Netherlands comes and other countries. Bulgaria didn’t participate in the world championship this time – it is a very serious competitor in “speed.”
Those guys who participated in the final of the World Cup and the World Championship in Kirov fought for the victory in the team competition, as two best male and female results were counted. The team is large, but not everybody could go to Kirov and fight. Four athletes did their best. Azerbaijan was presented by two federations: the Alpinism Federation and the Federation of Air and Extreme Sports. Three medals out of four belong to the Alpinism Federation of Azerbaijan. In female competitions victory was won by Leila Aliyeva and Elvira Magomedrasulova. As for men, our “engine” was Galib Shikhragimov. These are guys who fought for medals. The fourth representative is Ramaya Rakhimkhanov, a member of the Federation of Air and Extreme Sports. He earned the fourth medal. From this year the team competitions are official. Previously they were not official, we summed up medals, but it meant nothing. Now the UEA holds official team competitions.
If we speak about alpinism in general, yes. Personal equipment is expensive, if it is for big expeditions. Alpinism and everything which is connected with mountains are not close to a city. It includes long distant expeditions into hard-to-get regions of our planet. Many people, a lot of equipment, food for camps are needed. It is an expensive sport. Every federation settles the issues individually. As for us, athletes finance the federation. The federation deals with organization of tours to competitions for more than two years. We decided not to ask for help from the state at this stage, because it is our start-up. We think that when we will be able to represent our country honorably and have a solid team, we can be equal to other teams which have state financing. I think this year guys should good results, and we expect that next year there will be some support. As for our program which we adopted two years ago, we have a certain plan of development of ice climbing in such a not cold country as Azerbaijan. And our results confirm we chose a right way. The goals which were settled demonstrate that we achieved certain results. Team competitions were held officially for the first time in ice climbing history. I think it is a success for guys. They compete with the strongest athletes of the planet; guys had a strong motivation and encouraged others. If Azerbaijan takes the second place, I believe next year other teams will strive for getting into top three.
You can write and call. We are available. We are available in Internet, Facebook. We are an open social organization available for everyone. We have members of our federation who are not citizens of Azerbaijan, but they work in Azerbaijan. These are contracts. They have been living there for several years, they like mountains and active lifestyle. So, many of them joined the Alpinism Federation of Azerbaijan. We don’t restrict – only citizens of Azerbaijan can join us and that’s all. We are an interesting community which unites the young and the old. For example, the oldest alpinist of the republic, Rasim Pashayev, is dealing with alpinism for 48 years. And he is still in. Even though he is elder than 70, he continues teaching, he is an acting instructor, continues going into mountains, search for young people, including pupils in schools, and bring them into the sport. But in general our team is young – a new team of coaches, instructors who organize their own clubs, conduct workshops in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia. Iran, the Tien Shan, the Pamir. This year we plan more serious expeditions.
We plan an expedition for our youth high-mountain team. As for our projects, we don’t only deal with training our ice climbing team. We have worked on training our high-mountain team of Azerbaijan. This team has been formed for 4 years and undertaken a series of successful expeditions. Last season they climbed three peaks higher than 7000 m situated in the Pamir. This year they are ready to try the Himalayas and the Karakorum. We also actively promote climbing on natural reliefs, ice climbing and develop these or that rocky regions of Azerbaijan. This year an interesting festival will be held in autumn. It will be international. We have studied several locations, held internal championships and cups, and defined the most suitable areas for it. We have time. We define logistics, analysis of weather, and so on. It will be one of the most interesting and beautiful places of Azerbaijan. Official information will appear in late May. There will be an international festival devoted to one of the most prominent Azerbaijani alpinists.