The most challenging Red Bull Crashed Ice track of the year awaits the world’s best ice cross downhill athletes for the season finale March 17 in Quebec City, a gruelling 550-metre journey through the heart of the old city.
Kyle Croxall, a 19 Wing Comox firefighter, won the first two races of 2012 but stumbled in the race in Are, Sweden and saw his lead (2,200 points) melt to just 240 points over Finland’s Arttu Pihlainen. With 1,000 points to the winner, Kyle’s brother Scott (3rd, 1,700 points) and fellow Canadian Adam Horst (4th, 1,690) are within striking range as are Germany’s Fabian Mels (5th, 1,274) and Finland’s Paavo Klintrup (6th, 1,210).
In an interview from Toronto (where he was talking with major media such as Sportsnet and NBC), Croxall told the Record he was “pretty much working away, going to hockey and that’s about it,” as he prepared for tomorrow’s final race.
He had no predictions on the race or series outcome. “It’s a different race every time,” on different courses, which competitors can practice on up to 10 times before the elimination rounds begin. Croxall was running in second place in the quarter-finals of the Are race when he fell near the end of the course – a fate he hopes not to repeat on Saturday as he bids to become the first Canadian champion of the Red Bull series.
Organizes say the lightning-fast Quebec City track with its breathtaking 60-metre vertical drop and mind-boggling obstacles is the favourite of many ice cross downhill athletes and fans alike. Last year more than 110,000 spectators watched Pihlainen win the title ahead of Kyle Croxall. This year will be the seventh time Quebec City has hosted the race, a high-spirited finale with three Canadians in the top four.
“The Quebec track is truly one of a kind – it’s the Monaco of ice cross downhill,” said Christian Papillon, the sporting director, referring to the Formula One race in the same city. “The track runs right through the city, between buildings with fantastic architecture like the Chateau Frontenac and the Place de Paris to the harbour and the St. Lawrence River. It’s a very fast track.”
Ice cross downhill demands a combination of agility, skating prowess and fearlessness. The skaters descend the specially built ice canals four at a time, jostling for position as they battle to the finish line while clearing jumps, rollers, obstacles and hairpin turns.
Tomorrow’s final will be be carried live on Sportsnet and TVA Network at 5:30 p.m. PT and will also be streamed on www.redbull.tv.