Marco Dallago of Austria won the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship season opener on Saturday with an emphatic victory in the first Riders Cup race this winter in front of cheering Austrian fans ahead of Mark Taru of Estonia and Tristan Dugerdil of France in third.
Dallago, who won the world championship three years ago thanks to his blazing speed out of the starting gates, showed the other 144 athletes from 20 nations taking part in the race down the specially built ice track at the Austrian ski resort of Wagrain-Kleinarl that he is hungry for another title after a series of injuries the last two years. Dallago dominated four of the five knock-out rounds, taking first in the four-man heats four times in a row. He crashed out of the race just after the start and was in fourth place before storming back to get second just before the finish line.
"It wasn't looking very good at the beginning of the evening," said Dallago of the bungled start in the round of 64. "But it just shows that you should never, ever give up. I thought it was over but was surprised that I was able to catch up to the other three so quickly. It was really close at the end, I think I got second place by an inch or two (10 cm).
Taru of Estonia took a close second place in the first of nine races in the four-month championship in the world's fastest sport on ice skates thanks to intensive training in the off-season in the increasingly popular and competitive sport. Dugerdil also was rewarded for his hard work this summer with the podium after a series of strong performances on the obstacle-filled 300-meter long track through the knock-out rounds on a frosty Austrian night under the floodlights. He hopes that the momentum will carry on to the next stop, the first of four Red Bull Crashed Ice races, at home in Marseille on January 13-14 – the first time the race will be held on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Results MEN: 1. Marco Dallago (AUT), 2. Mark Taru (EST), 3. Tristan Dugerdil (FRA), 4. Steven Cox (CAN), 5. Pacôme Schmitt (FRA), 6. Michael Johansson (SWE), 7. Denis Novozhelov (RUS), 8. Joni Saarinen (FIN), 9. Kilian Braun (SUI), 10. Jim De Paoli (SUI).
Results WOMEN: 1. Veronika Windisch (AUT), 2. Michelle Noe (NED), 3. Anais Morand (SUI), 4. Junko Yamamoto (JPN), 5. Alice Zenz (AUT).