This past weekend, four skaters decked out in helmets and protective padding stood on top of a platform above a 5-story drop made of pure ice. At the sound of a gunshot, these skaters glided, pushed, stumbled, wiped out and scraped their way to the finish line.
This was The Red Bull Crashed Ice Ice Cross World Championship race, and it lasts less than a minute, with the skaters flying down the 460-meter (about ¼ of a mile) ice race track from spectacular heights at incredible speeds; starting off with a drop of approximately 250 ft.
Welcome to the world of ice cross, an extreme sport in every sense of the word. Ice cross is a high-speed combination of hockey, ice skating, downhill racing and boarder cross, where the only way to stop is to finish. Literally, a large padded wall greets the skaters shortly after they cross the finish line. Downhill ice cross has been gaining in popularity over the past handful of years and The Adrenalist first noticed it earlier this year in our New Sport Alert: Ice Cross Downhill feature.
The Red Bull Crashed Ice championship was held Dec. 1 in Niagara Falls, Ont., with the largest turnout in the event’s history. More than 80,000 spectators attended the season opener of the downhill ice cross of the 2012-13 season, the mighty Niagara Falls served as a stunning natural backdrop for the event.
Niagara Falls is the first stop of five to determine a 2013 World Champion, Red Bull will hit the road to Saint Paul, Minn. Jan. 26, Landgraaf, Netherlands Feb. 9, Lausanne, Switzerland Mar. 2, and the season makes one a final return to Canada on Mar. 16 in Quebec.
Participants gathered from a multitude of countries and professions, with the likes of Lukas Fila representing the Czech Republic and Andrey Lavrov representing Russia, to Martin Niefnecker representing plumbers and Coleton Haywood representing web designers. In the 32 profiled athletes participating in the 40-second race, the country with the most athletes comes as no surprise, as Canadians have been renowned for their winter sport prowess for years. The host country of the event boasts nine profiled participants and Switzerland a close second with eight.
On a night filled with thrilling sights and nail-biting action, the 64 athletes competing for the title skated on the course designed to test the speed, skill and athleticism of the skaters. The event culminated when the final four skaters left standing fought for the first win in the series for the elusive title of downhill ice cross champion.
The defending champion, Canada’s own Kyle Croxall, overcame a deficit at the start of the final in a thrilling come-from-behind victory over fellow Canadian Adam Horst, USA’s Cameron Naasz, Switzerland’s Kilian Braun.
Though a multitude of established winter sport athletes will compete in the event, Crashed Ice is also open to the public. Anyone can compete in the event, from veterans to novices who think they’ve got what it takes. Women are free to submit as well and 20 are competed over the weekend.
Registration is open now for the next four events and ballots can be found on Red Bull’s website. Online ballots are chosen at random for a slot on the roster, where the chosen one test out a sample track to get a sense of what they’re in for.
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline fix, spectacular falls, trips and triumphs, look no further than the Red Bull Crashed Ice downhill ice cross world championship series. The Adrenalist will keep you in the loop with what happens with the series as the season progresses.
Check out defending champ’s Kyle Croxall winning run at last year’s Crashed Ice Championship in St. Paul, Minn. in January.