Crashing The Competition
One of the eleven ladies entered into the Crashed Ice Qualifier zooms past the finish line after completing the obstacle course.
If you weren't at the Leduc Recreation Centre on Saturday night, Feb. 8th, then you missed a great night of action on the ice! And I'm not even talking about hockey or curling!
In a first for Leduc, the LRC played host to the Red Bull Crashed Ice Qualifiers. Crashed Ice is a relatively new sport having only been around for a dozen years or so. Maybe the best comparison would be likening it roller derby on ice with obstacles thrown in for an added challenge. In official lingo it is known as Ice Cross Downhill.
A rough and tumble sport, competitors do their best to protect themselves from injury by donning helmets, face shields, and fully padded altered hockey uniforms. This protection is not to guard against the other competitors who, aside from fairly regular crashes, seldom touch one another, but rather to protect them from the course itself!
There are only a few places in the world that have built Championship Crashed Ice courses including Sweden, The Netherlands, and the US, but the Canadian one in Quebec City is arguably the world's best. The World Championships, which will be taking place in Quebec City on March 22, 2014, is where the best of the best compete in front of 300,000 spectators that pack the streets along the outdoor course.
Attesting to the sport's exploding popularity in recent years were the one hundred and three athletes who showed up to try their skill at the Leduc qualifiers. The course in Leduc had to be modified a bit as we do not have any downhill ice surfaces but regardless, Ninety two men and eleven women gave it all they had ripping through the challenges in an effort to make it one step closer to the championships.
The Leduc course consisted of a series of high speed sharp turns, two separate obstacles where competitors had to throw themselves down on their stomachs and slide underneath to get through, and after the second stomach slide obstacle the athletes had to perfectly gauge their speed in order to be able to immediately get to their feet and leap over a large foam jump. There were a lot of crashes at this point in the race as many of the competitors could not stop their headlong momentum in time to get back up and make the jump. Racers were pitted one on one against each other on side by side courses which made for some exciting action. The qualifiers were free to the public for viewing and the stands were filled with family and friends yelling and cheering their racer on, as well as a very healthy crowd piled up outside the arena glass watching the action from the warmth of the main hallway.
Rumour has it that five men and five women will be moving on from the Leduc Qualifiers, but as of press time, no names had officially been released.
Judging from the surging interest in Ice Cross Downhill, do not be surprised if you see more of this extreme sport surfacing in and around Leduc. Not only do we obviously have a lot of people interested in participating, we certainly have no shortage of ice!
To view some thrilling action from the top level racers on world class courses you can go to www.redbullcrashedice.com and prepare to get hooked on a new sport!
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