The adrenaline-injected sport of ice cross downhill combines elements of skiing, speed-skating and hockey. Four skaters at a time race in hockey gear down a twisting, steep course at speeds reaching at least 60 kilometres an hour. Red Bull’s Crashed Ice World Championship, launched in 2010, consists of five tournaments, and crowned its world champion amid the centuries-old ramparts of Vieux-Québec on Saturday.
Austria’s Marco Dallago won the World Championship with his record-equaling third victory of the season, capping a brilliant year in the world’s fastest sport on skates. Dallago became the first Austrian world champion by beating Canada’s Scot Croxall in a thrilling final with a phenomenal burst of speed out of the gates and leaps of more than 10 metres, on the way to the triumph in front of 110,000 frenzied spectators on a cold night.
“I knew I needed a good start in the final and when I was in the air at the first jump I didn’t see anyone around me so it must have been a good start,” said Dallago, who joined the sport in 2012 and soared to the top by working hard in the off-season. “I predict it’s going to be even harder next year because everyone’s getting so much better all the time,” added Dallago.
Croxall moved up to second place overall with 2,390 points on the strength of his strong final finish down the 480-meter long track with its 40-meter vertical drop in front of the stoked crowd in Québec City, which hosted an unforgettable race for the ninth straight year. American Cameron Naasz, the only athlete in Red Bull Crashed Ice who beat Dallago this season with his gritty victory in Moscow, finished third overall with 2,220 points after he crashed hard in the quarter-finals and ended up 11th. Dallago’s younger brother Luca got on the podium for the first time with third place.
It was a bittersweet final for 2013 World Champion Derek Wedge of Switzerland, who took fourth place in Québec City and ended up 15th overall. Canada’s Kyle Croxall, who won in 2012 , finished 9th place overall.
It’s a male-dominated sport but female participation grows every year. Salla Kyhälä of Finland won the women’s race in Québec City for the second time after winning here in 2011. The blonde blitz came from behind with a powerful spurt late in the race to overtake Jacqueline Legere of Canada, who had dominated the quarter-final and semi-finals, in the final. Alicia Blomberg of Canada took third.
Dallago who also equaled 2011 champion Arttu Pihlainen with three victories in a four-race season, also led his Couch Garden Crew to the 2014 Ice Cross Downhill Team World Championship on Friday when they beat Canada’s Living the Dream, led by the Croxall brothers for the title after also winning in Québec City – their second victory this season.
Here’s an event clip courtesy of the Red Bull Media Pool:
Crashed ice indeed: check this wipeout reel from a tournament in Moscow earlier in the winter: