Frozen Saint Paul and Red Bull Crashed Ice were the real adventure for photo shooting. Low temperatures are inevitable during this kind of competitions, but this cold was something really special. Temperature of -22°C followed with a wind of 15km/h simply was too much. Eight hours in a row in open air in that kind of conditions is hard to explain to someone who never experienced it. Good equipment is literally of life importance. I especially hate the cold, but somehow it is always a big challenge for me!
American Cameron Naasz was just a few meters away from giving the United States its first-ever victory in the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship before Canadian brothers Kyle and Scott Croxall bolted past the exhausted Minnesotan at the finish line.
SAINT PAUL, Minnesota (USA) – Canada’s Kyle Croxall came from behind to beat his brother Scott and American Cameron Naasz in a breathtaking photo finish in the final of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship race in front of 115,000 frenzied spectators. Naasz had jumped into the early lead on the twisting, obstacle-filled 400-meter track just after the start on Saint Paul’s Cathedral hill but ran out of energy just a stride or two before the finish line as the two Croxalls sprinted past the fatigued local hero near the banks of the frozen Mississippi River.
It was the closest final in the 13-year history of Red Bull Crashed Ice and it took several moments for judges to analyze the photo finish to determine the finishing order. “I just wish I could have got a few more strides in going up that last hill,” said Naasz, who injured his back in a heavy crash in the quarter-finals. “I just didn’t have anything left in the tanks and was just trying to hang on. I just have to try to figure out how to stay in front of this guy.”
Kyle Croxall, the 2012 champion and Saint Paul winner last year who now has a total of six career victories, said he had a difficult start from an outside gate but stayed on Naasz’s heels all the way down. “You just look for your opportunity when you get it,” said the Canadian firefighter, the hottest racer on the circuit at the moment with four wins in the last six races going back to the start of the 2012 season.
Let’s step back to the future. It’s 2001. Winter. We’re in the heart of the city of Stockholm, Sweden, on the grounds of the city’s fish market, standing at the barriers of what seems to be an ice canal. A new sport is about to see the light of day.
Well, actually, it’s night time, so the light is coming spotlights. Athletes from all over the world are on skates and are just about to demonstrate a promising competition on ice – Red Bull Crashed Ice. United at the start section of the track, they seem to be staring into space, or maybe just trying to concentrate. “Holy crap! I’m never going to make it down this one,” shouts Jasper Felder as he sets off out of the start gate onto the merciless track.
Since 2001, there have been 20 Red Bull Crashed Ice competitions in 11 countries. Hundreds of thousands of spectators have braved chilly temperatures and found their way to snowy locations in the mountains, urban valleys, and city centres. They wanted to experience breathtaking man-versus-man battles on 400m – to 500m ice tracks full of bumps, bridges, and razor-sharp hairpin turns live. January 20 was the day a new sport was born. A sport of the century.
HOW IT WORKS
Each race is made up of the best ice cross downhill riders, representatives of national teams and the fastest athletes from worldwide national qualifying races, the so-called Qualifiers. The National Qualifiers are open to everyone who wants to take part in the main race, but obviously great skating skills are required. As for behaviour, competitors are strictly forbidden from intentionally causing a fellow competitor to fall, slow down, or leave the track by holding his shirt, pushing or striking. Anyone found guilty of intentionally hindering another athlete is disqualified automatically by the competition committee.
The competition is usually held over a three-day period. The first day comprises an athlete’s briefing, training sessions and a National Shoot-Out; the second day is made up of another athlete’s briefing, training sessions, an International Shoot-Out and Elimination (completed in heat format). Single runs are timed in the Shoot-Outs and the fastest 64 athletes each day advance to the Elimination Round. The finals take place on day three, with runs in heat format.
Athletes are ranked first to fourth in each run of the heats, with their place decided by their place in the final heat. Athletes ranked fifth to eighth are placed according to their place in the small final. Remaining athletes are ranked according to the round in which they were eliminated and their shoot-out times. Athletes who have not qualified for the finals are ranked according to their shoot-out times.
Each athlete is awarded points for where they finish: 1,000 points for first, down to 0.5 for 100th place. The points obtained at all four races are then added together after the final event to determine the winner of the Red Bull Crashed Ice, the official Ice Cross Downhill World Championship 2013. Every race counts! The format is simple, the race is fierce. So, anyone who has aspirations of winning will have to prove themselves against the best, and this in front of tens – sometimes hundreds – of thousands spectators.
Protective kit is essential in the Red Bull Crashed Ice, Ice Cross Downhill World Championship. No propper outfit means no clearance to start.
1 & 2. All riders must wear a helmet at all times on the track. Each helmet must be approved by CE Certification (Hockey), the Equipment Certification Council (HECC) or the Canadian Standards Associations (CSA). A range of new helmets with varying cage sizes will be permitted from the start of this season (see above). MotoX or MTB Downhill helmets can also be used (with CPSC Bicycle Safety Standard, ASTM DH or CE EN1078 certification) with goggles.
3. Chest and shoulder protection is important. A back shield is usefull guard for the spine, but it’s one element of the outfit that is not required. A neck brace is strongly recommended but a neck and throat protector is not required.
4. Elbows are obviously going to need some protecting, so some pads are a must.
5. Gloves must be covered with pads on top of the hand, wrists, and palms, which must not be removed during competition.
6. Knee and shin protection comes in useful after nasty falls.
7. Riders are allowed to wear hockey shorts, long trousers, MX pants or rollerblade crash pants with plastic padding.
8. Skates and blades: competitors must wear hockey skates with safety blades. The blades must not have any pointed ends.
Course marshals may inspect equipment at any time on the track or at the finish area at their own discretion, with any athletes found infringing the rules disqualified. Athletes must stop their run if they lose their helmet on the track – they must put it on again before continuing (failure to do so will result in disqualification). All protective equipment, apart from gloves and headgear, must be worn under uniform (sports shirt and pants).