Red Bull Crashed Ice – Longer, Faster, and a little bit Colder

Red Bull Crashed Ice – Longer, Faster, and a little bit Colder

By Farnell Morisset

Women opened the evening in front of the iconic Champlain statue

Women opened the evening in front of the iconic statue

It’s a breathtaking thing to see the iconic, historical buildings of Québec effortlessly blend in with an ice track for the world’s newest extreme racing.  It’s been 8 years, and I’m still not jaded whenever I see the evening of the final of the Red Bull Crashed Ice.  The ice track, snaking from the Chateau Frontenac steeply down the Cote de la Montagne before finally ending in Place de Paris makes it look like the scenery was designed around the wood-and-steel construction, so natural is its fit.  You simply couldn’t do something like this so well in any other city.  It’s no surprise, then, that Quebec City is the location of the finals of the young extreme skating competition’s season.

This year’s track, if you have followed previous years, only appeared to have had minor tweaks – it now started at the base of the Samuel de Champlain statue on the Dufferin Terrace, includes a new spiral descent in front of the Fresque des Québécois before Place Royale, and an extra jump before the final slope into the end zone.  The changes might seem minimal, but according to organisers, this represented a significant increase in speed and intensity.  From the sidelines, the intensity was definitely there.

The new spiral descent increased the intensity of the final stretch

The new spiral descent greatly increased the intensity of the final stretch

The competition started at sunset, around 7pm.  An energetic rock mash-up featuring the ironically appropriate “Ice Ice Baby” pumped the crowd before the national anthem, followed by a running of the flags of represented nations down the track.  It’s hard to say exactly how many people were there, given the length of the track, but a few points along the path the crowd was absolutely packed.  Still, it seems there were fewer people than last year – likely due to the colder weather, early Saint Patrick’s Day celebrants, and the simultaneous MMA fight with Georges Saint-Pierre keeping people at home.  Will this weigh in to Red Bull’s decisions with future Crashed Ice locations?  Time will tell, but those who were out tonight were definite fans, cheering and banging the walls of the track with enthusiasm all evening.

Did we mention they're going fast?

Did we mention they’re going fast?

Even though anyone brave and/or foolish enough to even attempt the track deserves high praise, this is a competition and there must be a winner.  It’s worth pointing out that, traditionally, Canadian competitors pretty much kick ass at this competition, which makes sense given how much hockey skills carry over.  However, tonight’s grand winner was the Finnish competitor Arttu Pihlainen – especially poignant, as Pihlainen had announced, before tonight, that given his injuries this season he would retire after the Quebec City competition.  Canada’s highest ranked finalist, Scott Croxall, finished second, a fraction of a second ahead of the Swiss racer Derek Wedge.  With his third-place finish tonight, Wedge managed to overtake Canadian favourite Kyle Croxall (fourth tonight) in overall points this season.  A visibly elated Wedge was at a loss for words, repeatedly asking “are you sure?” after being declared the season’s grand champion.

I don’t know what’s in the future for the Crashed Ice in Quebec City, but I hope it’s still here to stay for a long time.  I simply can’t think of a better event to make me realise how we love sport, and why we love our city.

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About the author:

Farnell-Morisset_BiogFarnell Morisset is passionate about discussing (among other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image.

He is also alarmed by what seems to be an invasive and aggressive polarization of complex social issues for which there are no black-and-white answers. This eventual identity crisis, he feels, will only be solved through good faith in, and honest communication with, all sides pulling on our ever dwindling “pure laine” blanket.

It is with this in mind that he contributes to LifeinQuebec.com as a valued member of our in-house writing team.

Categories: Sports

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset is passionate about discussing (among other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image. He has an engineering degree from Université Laval and is currently a law student at McGill University.

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