American Cameron Naasz won the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship for a second straight season on Saturday with a thrilling triumph in the final Red Bull Crashed Ice race of the 2016/17 campaign. Despite getting a warm welcome and enthusiastic backing from Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just before the race, Scott Croxall had to settle for second overall for a second season in a row after the Canadian ace crashed hard into a wall on the first turn in the final.
Croxall, the 2015 champion, ended up a disappointing fourth in a race in front of an enormous crowd that kicked off Ottawa 2017, a year of celebrations in honour of Canada's 150th year as a nation. Canada's Dean Moriarity took second place in the final on the high-speed track filled with bone-jarring obstacles and Switzerland's Jim De Paoli grabbed third. In the overall championship standings, American Maxwell Dunne finished third behind Naasz and Croxall while Canada's Dean Moriarity was fourth.
Canada's Jacqueline Legere, who won the first women's world championship last season, made it back-to-. The professional stunt-woman from St. George, Ontario came roaring from behind in the standings with her second race victory of the season to overtake American Amanda Trunzo with a series of flawless and clutch performances from the quarter-finals to the final down the 375-meter long track set up on the iconic Ottawa Locks in the Rideau Canal. Resembling a frozen waterfall, the track with its 35-meter vertical drop wended its way spectacularly into the valley between the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel and majestic parliament building.
"I'm so happy that it came down to a final against Scott and am very happy to come out on top," said Naasz, a Minnesotan who carved his name in the sport's history book as the first back-to-back world champion. It was his third win in Canada and record-breaking eighth race victory overall. "The final was wild. I heard a lot of noise behind me. Someone hit the boards hard and I saw later it was Scott." Naasz had a brilliant start and never looked back but survived a mid-race scare when he stumbled on one of the bigger jumps but got back on his feet to hold off Moriarity and De Paoli. "I know it's cold but it was an amazing event."
It was a fittingly exciting conclusion to an outstanding season of racing in the world's fastest sport on skates that featured six different winners in the eight races. Naasz won two of the four Red Bull Crashed Ice races, in Marseille as well as Ottawa, while Croxall took first in Jyväskylä, Finland and Moriarity won in Saint Paul. Reflecting the increased competition and balance, there were also four different winners in the four Riders Cup races.
Despite the disappointing outcome in the race, Croxall said he was thrilled to meet Trudeau and discover that the Prime Minister closely follows the sport on television. "I said 'Hi, I'm Scott Croxall' and he said 'I know who you are, I've watched you on TV', and I'm a big fan of yours'," Croxall said of Trudeau. "He said he loves the track and would love to get to try it out sometime."
Ottawa results men: 1. Cameron Naasz (USA), 2. Dean Moriarity (CAN), 3. Jim De Paoli (SUI), 4. Scott Croxall (CAN), 5. Richard Van Wijhe (SWE), 6. Tristan Dugerdil (FRA), 7. Tommy Mertz (USA), 8. Tyler Witty (USA), 9. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 10, Pacome Schmitt (FRA)
2016/17 men's final world championship standings: 1. Naasz (3,000 points), 2. Scott Croxall (2,337.5), 3. Dunne (2,272.50), 4. Dean Moriarity (2,115), 5. Marco Dallago (AUT) 2,088.5, 6. Dugerdil (1,325), 7. De Paoli (1,290), 8. Kyle Croxall (CAN) 1,195, 9. Daniel Bergeson (USA) 1,160, 10. Guillaume Bouvet-Morrissette (CAN) 1,012.5
Ottawa results women: 1. Jacqueline Legere (CAN), 2. Maxie Plante (CAN), 3. Elaine Topolnisky (CAN), 4. Junko Yamamoto (JPN), 5. Myriam Trepanier (CAN), 6. Katrina Buesch (GER), 7. Tamara Kajah (CAN), 8. Anais Morand (SUI), 9. Alicia Blomberg (CAN), 10. Dominique Lefebvre (CAN).
2016/17 women's final world championship standings: 1. Legere (2,450 points), 2. Amanda Trunzo (USA) 2,300, 3. Trepanier (1,950), 4. Topolnisky (1,450), 5. Sydney O'Keefe (USA) 1,410, 6. Plante (1,380), 7. Kajah (1,360), 8. Sadie Lundquist (USA) 1,080, 9. Sandrine Rangeon (FRA) 1,040, 10. Yamamoto (1,030)