DENVER — Some of the best ice climbers in the world will be competing on a climbing wall erected in Denver's Civic Center Park for the 2019 Ice Climbing World Cup.

The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) hosts the Ice Climbing World Cup. This will be the Cup's first visit to America. It runs Friday through Sunday.

Competitors have been in Korea, China and Europe leading up to the final event. The Denver competition is the sixth and final leg.

Eleven of the 16 American climbers competing are Colorado residents, including 25-year old Boulder-based climber, Corey Buhay.

Buhay was introduced to the sport as a journalist covering other athletes, but her interest led her to start ice climbing and competing herself.

"It's a very niche sport. It's a very strange sport, which is part of what makes it awesome and really fun to watch," Buhay said.

She said she's been training both outside and inside a gym to get ready for this competition.

"A lot of it is going outside and finding these ice-filled caves and things you can climb on with tools, and hanging your tools anywhere you can find and practicing your grip strength," she said.

"A lot of what we do is hanging from tools upside down as long as possible. We just time ourselves and hang."

Colorado is known for its ice climbing in spots like Ouray and Vail, as well as Rocky Mountain National Park.

World Cup organizers said they are trying to build excitement around the sport in hopes of having it added to the 2022 winter games.

Phil Powers, CEO of the American Alpine Club, said Denver provides a controlled environment for competition, as well as enough space for people to visit and watch. The American Alpine Club is a Golden-based nonprofit whose goal is "a united community of competent climbers and healthy climbing landscapes," according to its website.

"[The competition] is open to the public, free," Powers said. "You can buy food or drink at the venue, but we expect to have [15,000] or 20,000 people through the park that day, or those days."

Powers said the park will also have other activities available, such as an axe-throwing contest, a festival and "icy events."

"I think people will enjoy coming down to the park, whether they think ice climbing itself is wonderful ... the festival will be a really wonderful family event," Powers said. "And I can’t say enough about the gymnastic maneuvers people will see on the ice and the difficulty wall. It’s just extraordinary what these people do."

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