It has been around since 2000 but then the likelihood is that folk have always raced each other – be it on their feet, skis, horses or skates – but a set and defined course for international participation did not come along until a sponsor could be found.
It is not surprising for us to learn that that sponsor was none other than Red Bull – the energy drinks maker, involved in so many activities with an extreme element – air racing, formula 1 and kite surfing to name but a few.
With a sponsor on board a track could be built: where? An urban ice track of course and Crashed Ice has now been to cities as far apart as Moscow, Stockholm, Duluth, Prague, Davos, Helsinki and Quebec.
Competitors, having advanced from one of the tryouts in the prior months, race in heats of four skaters, with the top two advancing from each heat. Racers, typically ice hockey players, outfitted as such, speed down the course’s turns, bumps and jumps in a sport that fans describe as a mix of hockey, downhill skating and boardercross.
There are no flat surfaces here – instead daring racers hurtle down a 550m ice track coiling around the city’s urban environment, featuring a ridiculous sequence of razor-sharp turns, ice steps and gap jumps.
In the end, one male and one female proved their mettle and were crowned Red Bull Crashed Ice Champions for 2009:
Arttu Pihlainen of Jyvaskyla, Finland won the men’s event and Kerri-Anne Wallace of Calgary, Alberta won the women’s title.
“My adrenalin was pumping,” said Pihlainen. “You can’t imagine. It feels unbelievable to win two years in a row. I was hoping to win again, but you never know what can happen during a race. I was lucky because I didn’t make one mistake today. The race, for me, was perfect and I’m definitely coming back next year.”
“It feels phenomenal to be the first woman to win Red Bull Crashed Ice,’ said Wallace. “It’s an honour, truly an honour. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it was going to be a full adrenalin rush and that’s the reason why I signed up. I didn’t expect to win, but I don’t hate it one bit! I’m absolutely coming back next year.”
This year’s first ever Women’s Division heralded the fastest women on skates. Following Wallace’s lead was Jennifer Hartley from Alberta in second place, Marquise Brisebois in third and fourth place Caroline Bérubé, both from Quebec.
The final four in each division took home $5,000, $3,000, $1,500 and $500 respectively.
Check out the thrills and spills from the 2008 event, also held in Quebec and also won by Arttu Pihlainen – it sure is an extreme sport with plenty of physical contact. The video comes from redbullusa.