On an unusually mild winter day by Minnesota standards, American Tommy Mertz burned up the St. Paul track in the National Shootout Run to advance into Friday’s elimination round of the 2015 Red Bull Crashed Ice Cross Downhill World Championship. Mertz is joined by 22 other Americans, 8 Canadians, and one Finnish competitor, as 32 advanced to the round of 64.
Mertz led the competition from his very first run, as he finished the 1,400 foot course in 44.09 seconds. Mertz was not done proving he was class of the qualifiers, topping his first run with a second run of 43.54 seconds. Each of his times eclipsed those of the other 98 who were vying to advance into the elimination round.
Fellow American Luke Halvorson had the second best qualifying time, finishing his first run in 44.83 seconds. Well aware that he had advanced with his early run, Halvorson took it easy on his second run, coasting to a time of 55.63 seconds. He was followed by the U.S.’s Matt Johnson, who’s second run time was 45.39 seconds, making him third in the qualifier. His second run was a full three second improvement over the time in his first attempt.
Tyler Roth was the leading Canadian to qualify, finishing his second run in 45.46 seconds, to place him fourth overall. He was followed by his countryman, Brent Laur, who crossed the finished line in 45.83 on his first attempt. Three other Canadians finished in the top ten of the qualifier, as Michael Iulianello, Marcel Beauchesne, and Jeremie Bergeron finished 7-9. Americans Jonny Palmeri (No. 6) and Joe Schaffer (No. 10) rounded out the ten best times.
Finnish competitor Antti Tolvanen struggled in his first run, finishing in just under one minute at 59.61 seconds. However, he responded on his second run, cutting that time by more than 12 seconds, to 47.37, to finish 23rd and earn a spot in Friday’s event.
These 32 qualifiers now advance to face the cream of the crop in Friday’s elimination round. Austrian Marco Dallago returns to defend his 2014 title, and he will be joined by his brother Luca. Canadian Scott Croxall, who finished second last year, and American Cameron Naasz, who finished third, also will be competing in tomorrow’s competition.
While several skaters had quality times on the difficult course, Mertz proved to be the class of the group. He appeared in complete control as he sped down the course, and both times cleared the eight meter hill near the end of the track with ease. The American proved that he may have had to earn his way into the round of 64, but he is not here just to qualify. His times made a clear statement that he has what it takes to challenge the world’s best, and there is no doubt that Friday’s competitors will not be taking him lightly. This is Mertz’s third year in the competition.
For a full list of the National Shootout Run you can visit the Crash Ice site.
By Robert Pannier