The world's fastest sport on skates will be back in Saint Paul on January 19-20 for the seventh annual running of Red Bull Crashed Ice on the iconic race track dropping from the steps of the Saint Paul Cathedral. More than 100,000 spectators are expected to brave freezing temperatures to cheer on Minnesota's very own Cameron Naasz, who is attempting to win a record-breaking third straight Ice Cross Downhill World Championship. Canada's Jacqueline Legere will also launch her campaign to win a third consecutive women's championship in the high-speed racing action in front of the sport's most enthusiastic fans in Saint Paul.
The obstacle-filled downhill ice track is one of the most challenging anywhere – with athletes descending four-at-a-time at speeds of up to 80 km/h down the 340-meter long man-made ice track into the heart of the city from the start at the majestic Saint Paul Cathedral that towers over the Mississippi River Valley. The world's top 64 men will be racing through five knock-out rounds with the two fastest in each heat advancing to the next round in pursuit of the 1,000 world championship points awarded to the winner of the first of four "major" Red Bull Crashed Ice races in the 10-race Ice Cross Downhill World Championship, while the world's best 16 women will be taking part in three rounds of racing.
Naasz, 28, hopes to bolster his campaign to win a record third straight World Championship on his home track, which has been redesigned this year with new hair-raising hair-pin turns and banked walls. With seven Red Bull Crashed Ice career victories in the sport that is now in its 18th season, Naasz won two of the four major races last season in Ottawa, Canada and Marseille, France, and has an improbable winning streak of six victories in the last nine major races going back to 2015.
He got his 2017/18 season off to a flying start with a win at the first of six Riders Cup races this winter in Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria last month – a victory in the Riders Cup races organized by the riders and held for the riders that was worth 250 championship points. Switzerland's Derek Wedge won the second Riders Cup race on January 13 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Russia's Denis Novozhilov leads the Ice Cross World Championship standings after the first two Riders Cup races with 312.5 points, while Marco Dallago of Austria is second overall and Switzerland's Jim De Paoli is third. Naasz, who did not race in Switzerland, and Wedge are tied for fourth.
Hot on the heels of Naasz at Saint Paul will be former champions Scott Croxall (CAN), Kyle Croxall (CAN), Dallago (AUT) and Wedge (SUI) as well as top contenders such as Maxwell Dunne (USA), De Paoli (SUI), and Luca Dallago (AUT). Junior World Championship winner Mirko Lahti (FIN) also figures in the men's championship battle while in the women's competition, Legere will be facing a tough battle from Minnesota's Amanda Trunzo, who finished second overall to Legere last season, at the venue that has become the global hotspot for Ice Cross Downhill racing. Myriam Trepanier (CAN) and Elaine Topolnisky (CAN) will also be trying to stop Legere from a third straight title in the women's championship.
The Juniors World Championship will be back for a second season after its successful debut last year, a feeder competition that helps younger racers gain invaluable experience racing down the tracks under the spotlight and pressure of performing in front of large crowds.