American Cameron Naasz moved into the overall lead of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship on home ice on Saturday with his fourth straight podium after a dramatic final in which Canada's Dean Moriarity scored the first Red Bull Crashed Ice victory of his career in front of another enormous Minnesota crowd.
On a frosty night filled with bone-jarring crashes, spine-tingling passing maneuvers and even ill-tempered scuffles in the finish area after a bruising semi-final battle of brothers, Austria's Marco Dallago took second place in the world's fastest sport on skates and defending world champion Naasz finished third despite a heavy crash into the wall. In the women's race, Canada's Myriam Trepanier took top honors.
Moriarity became the sixth different winner in sixth Ice Cross Downhill races so far this season with a brilliant performance under enormous pressure down the 340-meter ice track with its 35-meter vertical drop against three former world champions in a star-studded final.
Blasting out of the starting gate in front of the iconic Saint Paul Cathedral like a thoroughbred out of the box, Moriarity just barely beat the trio to the first corner at the Wall Ride and held off an intense challenge from local hero Naasz, who won the 2015/16 title and is attempting to become the first racer to win back-to-back championships in the most competitive season ever. Never before have there been so many different race winners.
With his fourth straight podium in Red Bull Crashed Ice races in Marseille, Jyväskylä-Laajis, Finland and Saint Paul as well as a Riders Cup race in Rautalampi Finland, Naasz moved into the overall lead with 2,350 points ahead of American Maxwell Dunne, who ended up seventh. With one Red Bull Crashed Ice remaining in Ottawa and two Riders Cup races, Canada's Scott Croxall, the 2015 champion, is third on 2,112.50 points after crashing out of the race in a bitter semi-final heat and ending up sixth. Dallago, the 2014 title winner, is fourth with 2,033.50 points.
"I've found a way to get on a lot of podiums this season," said Naasz, somewhat disappointed by the third straight third place finish after winning in Marseille. "It's nice to be in first place overall. But I'm not many points ahead and there's a lot of really good athletes right behind me breathing down my neck."
Moriarity was delighted to get the win after coming close often in the past. "It feels awesome. It feels great to get the monkey off my back," he said.
Marco Dallago cleverly took advantage of a bruising battle between Naasz and Kyle Croxall and moved from fourth into second place just before the finish. Dallago said he was determined to get revenge after the bitter semi-final battle that ended with his brother Luca being disqualified after winning the semi-final and then getting blindsided by an angry Scott Croxall.
The women's race was also filled with drama. American Amanda Trunzo was in second place and could have clinched the Ice Cross Downhill championship if she had held onto that but crashed hard just before the final turn and ended up fourth – even though she still holds the overall lead going into the final race. American Sadie Lundquist took second behind Trepanier with Tamara Kajah taking third. Defending champion Jacqueline Legere's title hopes were dealt a blow when she crashed hard and out of the race in her semi-final heat.
Results men: 1. Dean Moriarty (CAN), 2. Marco Dallago (AUT), 3. Cameron Naasz (USA), 4. Kyle Croxall (CAN), 5. Daniel Bergeson (USA), 6. Scott Croxall (CAN), 7. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 8. Luca Dallago (AUT), 9. Mirko Lahti (FIN), 10. Guillaume Bouvet-Morrissette (CAN).
Results women: 1. Myriam Trepanier (CAN), 2. Sadie Lundquist (USA), 3. Tamara Kajah (CAN), 4. Amanda Trunzo (USA), 5. Sydney O'Keefe (USA)