For the fourth year in a row the downhill madness known as Red Bull Crashed Ice came crashing into St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill and this time it was the opening round of the four-round 2015 season. Along with St. Paul the series will head to Helsinki, Belfast and Edmonton.
Being that it is winter in Minnesota and going off of the frigid temperatures we had last year I was expecting nothing but the same this year. So when the temperatures were supposed to be mild, possibly hitting 40 degrees, I was quite pleased.
This year’s course was shorter than last year’s, but that didn’t mean it was any less intimidating. The view from the starting line was pretty awesome.
The course had a length of 460 meters, 40 meters of vertical drop and 7 turns with riders able to reach a top speed of 50km/h. This section was known as the “Waves” and after running into Blaster Pal Jarod DeAnda, who was in town MC’ing the event, he dubbed it “the widow maker.”
Thursday was the start of the action for me.
The day started with the riders getting in practice runs.
It is called Crashed Ice for a reason and with the number of outs on the courses first turn, the “Banked Turn,” it was clear that it was just as challenging as the previous year.
While not every wipeout was as spectacular as the previous one, they all looked equally as painful…
…but no pain no gain, right?
The “Waved Bridge” was a pretty awesome spot to watch riders get some air.
The day continued with the National Shootout runs.
The National Shootout consists of all 100 US riders getting two runs, with only the top 32 moving on to the elimination rounds Friday night. With that in mind the riders were really going all out.
A high level on concentration is surely needed to avoid any spills while navigating the course’s tricky sections.
Friday’s action picked up right where Thursday had left off. The International Shootout began with the same format as the National Shootout; with the top 32 moving to the finals on Saturday.
There was really no break in the action on Friday…
…and the intensity of the riders also showed no sign of letting up.
Soon after the International Shootout the top 64 US and International riders entered an elimination round to cut the field in half to 32.
Riders were really going all out.
With a two hour lull in the action I headed down the hill to the finish line. Friday being an easier night to move around the course, I enjoyed it while I could, as they were expecting more than 100,000 spectators for Saturday. The St. Paul Cathedral provides an awesome backdrop for the event.
Spectators are able to enjoy this event for free, making it quite popular.
The excitement continued soon after with the Team Competition qualifiers.
The second team member to cross the finish line determines the qualifying time for each team. Teammates try to push as hard as they can while trying not to take out one another…
…but pushing too hard has its consequences, it can lead to a misstep that can have an detrimental effect on your run.
Once the qualifying rounds were completed it was time for the teams to go head to head.
Each team selects 3 riders which results in 6 riders on the course at once. It can get pretty out of hand but that just makes it more awesome for the spectators.
Once they hit the finish line riders are anxious to see their times and who came out on top.
When it was all said and done Team Prestige Worldwide and their very distinct look took home the gold; upsetting favorites Team LTD.
Saturday was gearing up to be one heck of an evening. At around 4pm the fans began to pour in. It was later determined that 140,000 people packed in around the Cathedral, breaking the attendance record for Crashed Ice.
The National Anthem was finished and the Red Bull Air Force came swooping in; it was go time.
Local favorite Cameron Naasz came out swinging, winning his first round.
While each rider was pushing as hard as they could; not everyone would be moving on.
With all the fans crowding every square foot around the course, moving from spot to spot was not going to happen easily. So I ended up finding the spot I liked the most and continued to watch the Finals unfold.
The battles were pretty intense, and each rider navigates the course in their own way; Derek Wedge from Switzerland, wearing the red jersey, navigated the waves by jumping them.
As the round of 32 battles were finishing up and the quarter finals underway the action was really heating up.
Everyone was hard on the throttle.
The second Semi-Final round went to Kyle Croxall and Cameron Naasz, setting up the final battle between Kyle Croxall, Dean Moriarty, Cameron Naasz and Dan Witty.
Last year we had some entertainment before the Finals to get everyone pumped up; it was people riding bicycles down the course. This year they topped that with mini four-wheelers.
Red Bull MX rider Ronnie Renner was one of the participants and it was pretty awesome to watch.
Soon after that the Women’s final was underway, with Salla Kyhala of Finland taking home the gold.
Then it was time for the big battle. Kyle Croxall took the lead and never looked back. He would take the win in the opening round of the 2015 Red Bull Crashed Ice Ice Cross Downhill World Championships; Dean Moriarty and Dan Witty would round out the top 3.
This win marked his third win in St. Paul, making him 3-1 overall at this event.
With the weekend over I headed back to the media tent to pack up my things and stuck around for the press conference. The riders seem to have a very close bond with one another; even after heated competition they were still able to joke with each other between questions.
Crashed Ice is an awesome event and I guarantee you will enjoy yourselves and as I write this the Helsinki round has just finished; so if you live in the area of Belfast or Edmonton I suggest you go check it out for yourselves.
instagram: @peter_laps, @lifeblasters, @redbullcrashedice