Kyle Croxall has won more Red Bull Crashed Ice races (seven) than any other athlete in the world's fastest sport on skates aside from defending champion Cameron Naasz (also seven) and has won more times in Saint Paul (three) than anyone else. But the 28-year-old Canadian ace who dominated the sport from 2012 to 2013 doesn't get a lot of respect from the younger pack of rivals. He aims to change that this season.
Rather than fade away from the sport that made him famous across Canada, Croxall has quietly rolled up his sleeves and worked harder than ever before in the off-season to get ready for another shot at glory in the sport that has been advancing forward each year with lightening speed. There are indications that he could be on an upward trajectory after getting fourth at the last Riders Cup race in Finland last weekend.
Croxall, the 2012 world champion and 2013 runner-up, realized last year that it would take more than the excellent skating skills and bulk he has to win in Ice Cross Downhill in an era of speedy starters and smart skaters who had won the last three titles – including his younger brother Scott in 2015. Kyle Croxall sent notice at the last Riders Cup race in Rautalampi, Finland that he is back among the elite by taking fourth place, one peg ahead of Scott, and he would love to win in Saint Paul again after his last victory here just two years ago. Overall, Kyle Croxall is in 11th place in the world championship standings, but within striking range of the top five.
"I feel great this year," said Croxall, a firefighter. "Overall, I'm definitely better now than I was in 2012 when I won the world championship. My technical skills have improved a lot this year. My skating was always good but the technical things I worked on in the off-season are much better. I'm definitely in good shape
I feel great this year."
Croxall said that after years of teaching his younger brother the tricks of the trade, he decided to try to learn more from Scott and his younger training partners this past off-season. So he started training more on pump tracks and focusing more on the technical training of skating down obstacle courses at high speed.
"I did a lot of off-season training and I feel a lot better on the technical parts of the track," said Croxall. "It was a wide range of different types of training. Lots of hockey-style training as always but also a lot of pump tracks and technical training that Scott and the others have been doing for the last few years. All that helps a lot. I've noticed in the first couple of races this season what a difference that all that training makes."
Croxall would certainly also like to do everything he can to prevent reigning world champion Naasz of the United States from winning an eighth career race here in Saint Paul – and bettering his record for most wins. Finland's Arttu Pihlainen, who retired in 2013, also has seven career wins.