They say that there is nothing better than winning a championship on your home field, and Cameron Naasz got to feel the sensation of that Saturday night. The St. Cloud, MN resident won in front of a home crowd cheering “USA, USA, USA” each time he hit the ice. The victory was his third of the season, moving him into first in the overall standings and giving the 26-year-old his first Red Bull Crashed Ice Championship. He also became the first American to do so.
Naasz entered the finals Saturday night trailing Canadian Scott Croxall, the reigning Red Bull Crashed Ice champion, by 65-points in the standings. He knew that he not only had to place in the top four on Saturday, but also had to beat Croxall to claim his first title.
Knowing the stakes, it looked like Croxall was the one who came out ready to make St. Paul the crown jewel on his way to earning his second straight championship. The Canadian came through with better times in every round heading into the finals. This looked like it would be a disappointing evening for Naasz, but he saved his best race for last.
In the finals, the American shot out of starting gate, grabbing a comfortable lead from the start. Croxall did his best to stay with Naasz, but the Minnesota resident was not going to give his rival the chance to close the gap. Naasz pulled out the narrow victory giving him a total of 3,385 points, 235 ahead of Croxall for the title.
France’s Tristan Dugerdil finished in third in St. Paul. That locked him into fourth in the overall standings, trailing Canada’s Dean Moriarity. Maxwell Dunne finished fourth in the final race, making it the first time in the St. Paul competition that two Americans had top four finishes.
After the race, Naasz was thrilled at winning his first Red Bull Crashed Ice Championship, and even more so that he was able to do it in front of a home crowd. “”It feels amazing. Let’s go Minnesota. It was a crazy season. The battle couldn’t have gone on any longer. I don’t know how I did it. I knew Scott was right behind me so I didn’t hit the brakes and went for it.”
This has been a season that Cameron Naasz has dominated virtually from the start. The season began in Quebec City, where the American bested Moriarity to claim the victory and set the stage for his greatest season yet. In Munich, Germany it was another huge victory for Naasz, this time he finished ahead of Scott Croxall and his brother Kyle to grab the title.
It looked like this was going to be a cake walk for Naasz, but a disappointing finish in Jyväskylä/Laajis, Finland saw him fall to second in the overall standings, as Croxall won the race and looked to be peaking at the right time. This set up the dramatic conclusion in St. Paul, and the American proved he was not going to let the championship slip from his fingertips.
The St. Paul event was the conclusion of a grueling season that saw 10 races in six countries. Besides the four primary races, there were six Riders Cup events that also figured in the standings, but not at nearly the same point value. Naasz added 385.0 Riders Cup points to his overall total, while Croxall had 550.0.
Featured Image Courtesy of Balazs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool
By Robert Pannier