For those who love the extreme sports, the ultimate in ice skating challenges will begin Thursday night in St. Paul, MN, when the Red Bull Crashed Ice Downhill World Championships for 2015 begin in St. Paul, MN. This events draws competitors from all over the world, and Thursday’s preliminaries will pit 99 American and Canadian skaters who are vying for 32 spots in Saturday’s Finals.
For those who are new to the event, the Crashed Ice Downhill sport is a competition that pits four skaters on a 1400 foot iced track. The course is filled with sharp turns, rolling hills, jumps, and climbs that will challenge the strength, stamina, and agility of even the most seasoned competitors.
The course is lined with boards held together by nearly 5,000 screws, and uses over 40,000 liters (roughly 10,000 gallons) of water to fill the course. The thickness of the ice is about four inches thick throughout the nearly quarter-mile distance and, according to race officials, will get faster as the competition progresses.
The 2014 St. Paul event was won by Austrian Marco Dallago who, along with brother Luca, will be returning to defend his title. This will be the first event in this year’s World Cup competition, so all competitors are beginning the event with a clean slate, but American Cameron Naasz has already competed in one Riders Cup event, and is atop the leader board with 250.0 points.
In today’s qualifying event, five North Americans will be entering the competition as serious threats to unseat the Austrian. American Adam Green has been competing in the Crashed Ice series since 2010. The Strongsville, OH resident finished in 13th in 2013 in St. Paul, but is currently not ranked in the Riders Cup.
Joining Green from the United States is Reed Whiting, who is in his second year in the competition. The Rochester, MN native will be 34 in March, but has demonstrated that even a newcomer can act like a wily veteran.
The biggest threat to win this competition for the U.S. team will come from Cameron Naasz. The St. Cloud, MN resident has been competing in the Red Bull series since 2013, but has already established himself as one of the leading contenders for the St. Paul event. He won the Mini Rookie Award in 2012 in Minnesota, and finished in third in this event last year.
From north of the border, Canada sends two competitors who will be have a good shot of returning home as champs. Dean Moriarity is currently second in the Ryders Cup series, and has been competing in the Red Bull series since 2013. Dean and his twin brother, Dylan, began competing in the competition in 2013, when Dean finished 16th in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Scott Croxall was last year’s runner-up in St. Paul, and there is no doubt he will be gunning for the top spot this year. Croxall is entering his seventh season, but has yet to win his first event. He is an excellent skater, who should find this course very much to his liking.
The Minor League Sports Report will post qualifying results Thursday night.
By Robert Pannier