Salla Kyhala, Kyle Croxall Win 2015 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships
Entering Saturday night’s Red Bull Crashed Ice Downhill World Championships in St. Paul, no one would have been surprised to see the name Croxall holding the championship trophy in his hands at nights end, they just would have thought it would be Scott that would be the one holding the trophy. Instead, brother Kyle took home the crown, with fellow Canadian Dean Moriarity taking second.
Croxall was the winner in St. Paul in 2012 and 2013, but last year suffered through a very tough season. This year he has quickly established that he is back, cruising through the finals on his way to his third championship in Minnesota. “I had such a rough season last season, but I got my hat-trick of wins in Saint Paul here today,” Croxall explained after winning the title. “I’ve worked my butt off in the off-season and I’m happy to be here and to win.”
Moriarity had the top qualifying time in the International Shootout yesterday, and in each round of Saturday’s competition he sped through the course with incredible skill and speed, proving he was ready to stake his claim to the St. Paul title. It wasn’t meant to be however, as Croxall took command down the last stretch of the race, with Moriarity following close behind.
American Cameron Naasz was a favorite entering the day’s competition and looked like he was the man to beat, but he struggled early in the final’s race and finished fourth. He was third last year and undoubtedly was disappointed with his finish. Finishing in third this year was fellow American Dan Witty, who made a statement that he is ready to have a big year this season on the Red Bull Crashed Ice circuit.
Last year’s champion, Marco Dallago, skated incredibly well through the elimination round yesterday, and in the first couple of rounds on Saturday he was looking poised to repeat. The dream of repeating came to an end as he was unable to reach the finals.
On the women’s side, Finland’s Salla Kyhala won her quarterfinal and semifinal heats, and after qualifying with the top time yesterday she quickly established that she was going to be difficult to top in the finals of the women’s competition. Three Canadians entered the finals with her, Jacqueline Legere, Tamara Kajah, and Gwynne Attenborough, but they would be no match for the Finnish competitor.
Kyhala used the same skill and speed she had shown through each round of the competition and dominated the race from start to finish (no pun intended). Legere made it a close race, but could not keep up with the European.
The finals saw the largest crowd ever for the St. Paul event. In its fourth year in the Twin Cities an estimated crowd of more than 140,000 attended the event. The 460-meter track was packed by spectators along the course, and was an inspiration for Witty. “It just feels good to be doing it in front of the home crowd.”
After finishing in third last year, Naasz was disappointed with his fourth place finish. “The finals were a little tough. On my way up I had a skate guard break … so I was crashing into every board. I wasn’t in control like I usually am.” Despite the finish, Naasz skated incredibly well and handled himself like a champion following the race.
The Red Bull Crashed Ice series now moves onto Helsinki, Finland. The competition will be held February 5-7.
By Robert Pannier