'Being a bit crazy gives you an edge'

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:08 PM ET

Colt Haywood is going to throw himself off a hill this weekend, and Shane Nuttley and Scott Diver intend to come tumbling after.

On skates. On purpose.

"It is kind of crazy," Haywood, a normally sane 20-year-old marketing student at Fanshawe College in London said yesterday. He, along with several other Toronto-area skaters, will compete Saturday in the third annual Canadian Crashed Ice Championship in Quebec City.

The definitive word here would be "crashed."

"I've seen the videos and I think I can beat these guys," says Diver, a 25-year-old who played minor hockey in the Toronto Marlboros organization, "but my mom isn't too thrilled about it."

Seems Diver already broke an arm snowboarding and "I broke my nose skate boarding," he says, laughing. Evidently, mom has visions of a three-peat.

The sport, which Red Bull, an energy drink company, created nearly a decade ago, is a combination of skating, downhill skiing and boarder-cross. In other words, organized mayhem.

"I'm an adrenalin junkie, X-Games kind of guy," says Nuttley, a 34-year-old skating instructor, entrepreneur and part-time actor from Etobicoke, "so it's just something that appeals to me."

More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the event, which kicks off Quebec City's 400th anniversary celebrations and TSN is broadcasting Saturday's final live at 9 p.m.

"The town is just crazy about this. Last year, my parents were in the audience and they couldn't move it was so crowded," says Haywood, who has raced each of the previous two years. "The course walls are about 31/2 to four feet high and, outside of that, it's like a sea of people.

"When you get to the starting line it can be a bit nerve-wracking."

He, along with Nuttley, Doug Knight of Markham and Mississauga's Diver were among 10 skaters who qualified at local trials held at arenas in Toronto and London.

Nuttley, a snowboarder and in-line skater who also spent three years in Germany playing hockey says this "is my NHL. I've never played in front of that many people."

But there is one catch.

Unlike Haywood, neither Diver nor Nuttley has ever been, or even actually seen, a Crashed Ice track.

FULL OF DROPS

The course is full of drops, jumps, twists and turns. Contact is prohibited. But, hey, accidents happen.

"I think being a bit crazy gives you an edge," Nuttley says.

Approximately 150 racers will do individual time trials tomorrow and the top 64 advance to Saturday's heats. Four-man heats, with the top two advancing, whittle it down to the final four, who then race for the $5,000 first prize.

Haywood finished 30th in 2006. Last year, he had the third fastest qualifying time before falling in his heat.

"It is kind of crazy," he says. "It's boarder-cross with four skaters trying to get to the bottom the fastest on a man-made track with jumps, dips, stair-type drops, twists and turns."

The participants are in full hockey gear, but without sticks. Most are former hockey players and the best seem also to be good snowboarders or in-line skaters.

"There are kids who are decent at hockey who qualify," Haywood says.

"But some of these kids get pretty intimidated when they see the course. That separates them from the serious competitors."

The track is 430 metres long with about a 60-metre drop. Alberta's Kevin Olson averaged nearly 40 kilometres an hour to win the event last year.

Top speed?

"About 70 kilometres," Haywood says. "Most hockey players will get from start to finish. But the trick is doing it fast and not slowing down before a big drop or sharp turn.

"My snowboarding background helps with that. I'm used to going downhill fast and still feel comfortable. You need a lot of confidence in your footing."

And, having a couple loose screws doesn't hurt, either.

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CRASHED ICE CHAMPIONS

Quebec City 2007

Kevin Olson

Quebec City 2006

Gabriel Andre

Prague 2005

Jasper Felder

Moscow 2004

Jasper Felder

Duluth, Minn. 2004

Jasper Felder

Duluth, Minn. 2003

Jasper Felder

Austria 2001

Jasper Felder

Sweden 2000

Jasper Felder


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