The ice chips will fly in March when the new winter extreme sport of ice cross downhill thrills thousands of fans in Alberta.
Leave the crushed ice for the soft drinks. In Edmonton, AB, it’s all about the Red Bull Crashed Ice– Ice Cross Downhill World Championship March 12-14. Ice cross downhill is a new extreme winter sport and the Red Bull Crashed Ice championships are the sport’s premier racing events. Each winter, four races occur around the world, with Edmonton debuting as host in 2015.
Here’s a crash course on the Crashed Ice: four athletes line up on hockey skates and race to the finish line. However, the finish line is at the bottom of a 600-m (656-yd) icy track down a rollercoaster of terrain.
In Edmonton, the course will start at the Shaw Convention Centre on the lip of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. The four athletes will surge onto a narrow, steep course, and reach speeds of 70 km/h (43 mph), jostling for position as they hurl over bumps, jumps, rollers and obstacles. The course ends on the valley floor. The top two finishers move to the next round of competition. Don’t count out the women: the “chicks that rip” compete just as fiercely on the same track.
The downhill ice course is constructed months in advance. It’s so narrow and steep that it’s impossible for a Zamboni to help make the ice. Fifteen trucks haul in more than a kilometre (more than half a mile) of wood sideboards; 2,000 sq m (2,391 sq yd) of wooden floor and 140 km (87 mi) of snaking cooling tubes to freeze the crashed ice course. The championship course in Edmonton will be the longest one of the season.
Athletes from Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Germany and the US are the leaders in ice cross downhill. Watch for brothers Kyle and Scott Croxall plus Dean Moriarity to fly the flag for Canada. While spectators are welcome during training runs over the first two days, day three is the ultimate race where thousands of spectators hug the rails to watch the evening competition. The main event is free to the public; details are posted daily at Red Bull Crashed Ice.
Edmonton has a longstanding history of hosting the best athletes in world-class competitions. Red Bull Crashed Ice will no doubt add excitement to the winter, so there’s still time to pack your bags to enjoy more of what the city has to offer. Whether it’s skating on a five-hectare frozen lake at Hawrelak Park, trying the new surf simulator at West Edmonton Mall, or just looking for fine or fun dining, Edmonton has it all.
Looking for more visual inspiration from Alberta? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.