The longest and most grueling Red Bull Crashed Ice track of the season will separate the contenders from the pretenders at Jyväskylä on Saturday when athletes from around the world race down the 630-meter long natural ice track in front of an enthusiastic Finnish crowd. For the first time, the racing action in the frozen college town in Central Finland will be held in the daylight hours instead of under the floodlights at night.
The second of four Red Bull Crashed Ice races this season promises to once again be an exhilarating and action-packed competition with the extremely long and bumpy track on the frozen northern rim of Europe being a source of upsets, heavy crashes and loud protests each year. As home to some of the world's top ice cross downhill racers, including veteran Paavo Klintrup and last season's Junior World Champion Mirko Lahti, Finland will have a large number of athletes racing in front of the big home crowd on a track they know well. The world's fastest sport on skates is hugely popular in this country that cherishes speed and fearless athletes who push themselves to their limits.
"It's a longer track, a natural ice track that just suits my style really well," said Scott Croxall of Canada, who has won the race in Jyväskylä the last two years by bursting out of the starting gates fast in almost every heat he takes part in. "I'm just excited to be back here."
Cameron Naasz speeds down the natural track during a practise run in Jyväskylä. Photo: Victor Engstrom/Red Bull Content Pool.
Defending champion Cameron Naasz (USA) knows he will have his work cut out for him trying to beat Croxall as well as overall ATSX Ice Cross Downhill Championship leader Marco Dallago (AUT). "The most important part about the track is getting out of the hole (starting box) fast," Naasz said. "As you can see in the past, in every race Scott hasn't come from behind. He just gets the hole shot (great start) and held his lead."
Amanda Trunzo, who won her first race here last year and now leads the women's championship, is also excited about the natural ice track. "I love all the skating you have to do on this track," she said, referring to the parts where the racers have to work hard to keep their speed up. "It suits me well."
The race in Finland is the only major Red Bull Crashed Ice stop to feature a natural ice track, where the riders have to maneuver the little bumps and the idiosyncratic nature of the ice compared to an artificial ice track, which has generally more consistent ice conditions created by cooling systems that are buried beneath the artificial ice tracks.
"Other tracks have all these big obstacles and technical features – this one is about keeping your speed and how you handle the corners," said Reed Whiting, a former top racer from the United States who now does TV commentary for the races. "Very minimal changes in how you take a turn can mean huge gains and opportunities for take overs throughout the track."
The 630-meter-long track will be a test of stamina and precision. More than ever, athletes will have to choose a perfect line – one small deviation might cost them dearly. For the first time, the race will be held in the afternoon - so that spectators will be able see the riders battle it out in natural daylight in the breathtaking frozen wilderness of Finland, where temperatures have been consistently 10 degrees below zero or lower and snow is in the forecast. The main event on Saturday starts at 1 p.m. local (11:00 GMT) and will include the Junior Cup World Championship Finals, the Women's Championship Finals followed by the Men's Championship Finals. A total of 147 athletes from 22 nations will battle it out in frosty Finland.
Watch it Live
Red Bull Crashed Ice Jyväskylä will broadcast LIVE on redbullcrashedice.com and Red Bull TV on February 3 at 1 PM local time (11 AM GMT).
Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. For a full list of supported devices visit about.redbull.tv.
If you miss the event or simply want to watch all the action again, the replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.