Colorado community comes together to fund the first-ever live stream of the iconic 26-year old event
DENVER - The Ouray Ice Climbing Competition Finals will be live-streamed around the world on Saturday January 23, 2021 (11 am to 2 pm MST; 1800 to 2100 GMT), thanks to an unprecedented collaboration of Colorado government, private and non-profit organizations.
Now in its 26th year, the Ouray Ice Festival and Competition will be re-imagined into a virtual, spectator-less event that will instead be televised and streamed for the first time. Nearly 60 of the world’s most elite male and female climbers will descend on Ouray for the opportunity to ascend the tricky rock and ice canyon along the historic Mighty Aphrodite route. There will be two days of qualifying climbs Thursday and Friday, with the top eight men and eight women going for the gold in Saturday’s finals in front of an international live streaming and TV audience.
The World Cup-like Ouray event will be the only ice climbing competition in North America in 2021, and one of only two such events in the world.
“We’re expecting a huge audience.” said Peter O’Neil, the Executive Director of the Ouray Ice Park, Incorporated (OIPI), which runs the annual Festival and Competition. “We couldn’t have done this without the State of Colorado, and the streaming distribution of local and international partners, cable and TV stations.”
The virtual streaming broadcast came together quickly when the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media; the Colorado Tourism Office; the Colorado Office of Business Funding and Incentives; and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office collaborated to fund the TV production and streaming. Other major sponsors include the Colorado Lottery, the City of Ouray and numerous private companies and local Ouray businesses.
“The Worldwide Ouray Ice Climbing Festival live stream provides Colorado with a global opportunity to showcase Colorado’s outstanding tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Betsy Markey, Executive Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade which houses the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media, the Colorado Tourism Office and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. “Colorado’s perennial tourism attractions are vital to our economy and we are thrilled that our partners have found this innovative, exciting and thoughtful way that allows Ouray to continue to shine in a new format.”
The streaming TV production will also include a 60-minute documentary on the 2021 Ouray Ice Festival and Competition that will be distributed internationally a month later on cable, TV and streaming networks. The documentary will feature highlights from the competition, profiles of the climbers and behind-the-scenes stories such as how the canyon is ice-farmed every night.
“Our Colorado spirit will be on full display during the live stream of the Ouray Ice Climbing competition,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We can climb anything in Colorado ,including ice, and our state is home to incredible natural assets in Ouray. We’re excited to ensure everyone around the world can enjoy this thrilling competition.”
The TV, streaming, documentary and VR are being produced and distributed by Denver media company BurstMarketing in partnership with Emmy Award-winning Denver TV production company, Citizen Pictures. The production will include HD and point-of-view action cameras plus drones to create an immersive viewer experience and capture the dizzying, strenuous and sometimes treacherous 150-foot, nine-minute climb up the canyon. World-renowned climbers Liam Lonsdale will provide live commentary for the streaming remotely using innovative technology powered by Kiswe.
The stream will be distributed internationally by the Swiss-based International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), the ice-climbing governing body founded in 1932 which has a global presence on six continents representing 90 member associations and federations in 67 countries. In addition to its own 3-million member base, the UIAA has a partnership with streaming network Extreme Media , which will present the Ouray Ice Competition to an audience of more than 6 million fans around the world.
Domestically streaming and documentary distribution partners include Colorado Tourism; Climbing Magazine; Rock and Ice Magazine; the American Alpine Club; the cities of Ouray, Telluride and Montrose; Altitude Sports; multiple TV stations; and partners and sponsors of the event including climbing companies Yeti, Petzl, Rab and Asolo.
How to watch
Fans can watch the live streaming of the finals – as well as highlights from the qualifying days and other videos – on the Ouray Ice Park’s website, the Ouray Ice Park YouTube Channel or their Facebook page.