March 18, 2011
Canadians dominate Crashed Ice
By ANTHONY VASQUEZ-PEDDIE, QMI Agency
In a sport that involves skates, hockey pads and plenty of high-speed wipeouts, you would expect Canada to dominate.
And you would be right.
The final race of the 2011 edition of the Red Bull Crashed Ice series will be held in Quebec City Saturday and it features a boatload of adrenaline-seeking Canucks.
A brother combo from Mississauga, Ont., has been crushing the competition during the four-event circuit this season, with one of them having a shot at the world championship.
Kyle and Scott Croxall are second and third in the overall standings going into Saturday's final. Previous events were held in Munich; Valkenburg, Netherlands; and Moscow.
Kyle Croxall has 2,500 points and Scott 1,590. Both trail Finland's Arttu Pihlainen, who has 2,800.
With 1,000 points going to the winner of the Quebec City event, Kyle Croxall, ranked No. 1 in the world, has the best chance of surpassing second-ranked Pihlainen for the title. Fourth-ranked Scott can still get a top-three finish, but has too few points to challenge for the world championship.
The Croxall brothers may be the cream of the crop in the Crashed Ice field, but the reality is four of the top-10 ranked racers and 10 of the top 30 wear the maple leaf. Canada is one of the best represented countries in the sport.
And more want the chance to plummet down what is, for lack of a better description, an expanded bobsled or luge track.
This year, 11,000 Canadian skaters applied to race in the main event. After picking applicants via lottery system and holding regional qualifiers, only 64 men and 32 women will race in elimination heats in Quebec City.
Toronto native and power skating instructor Shane Nuttley is going to his fourth event at Quebec City.
"It's my show. I didn't get to play in the NHL, so this is kind of my NHL," he said.
This year's Quebec City course is 540-metres long with a 60m vertical drop. The average width of the track is 4.5m. It's a non-contact sport, but there's little room for error. Wearing a helmet, face shield and padded gear is required, but with skaters reaching speeds of around 60 km/h, yes, there's a whole lot of crashing.
"The first time I was standing at the top of the hill ... it was definitely not what I expected," said Ontario native Kristin Bortolon, who raced last year in Quebec City. "I was terrified at first."
"It was the craziest thing I've ever done, for sure," said former Toronto Marlies centre Max Taylor, who also raced in the event last year. "My mom can't believe that I'm doing this."
"If you're scared, go home," said four-year veteran and Toronto native Dimitri Athanasiou.
What a Canadian thing to say.