American Cameron Naasz won the first Red Bull Crashed Ice race held on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday after a flawless high-speed run down an artificial ice track into Marseille's old port. It was the seventh career victory for Naasz, the reigning Ice Cross World Downhill Champion who is hoping to become the first athletes to win back-to-back titles.
In the most competitive final ever with three one-time champions battling it out in a tense race down the 340-meter long track, American Maxwell Dunne finished in second place, Canada's Scott Croxall was third and Austria'a Marco Dallago was fourth. In front of an enthusiastic French crowd, Naasz had also won the first run of the final that had to be scrapped moments later after a TV review because his starting gate opened a fraction of a second before the others. On a balmy night in Marseille at the start of its year as a European capital of sports with temperatures well above zero, the race in France's warmest city marked a new era for the world's fastest sport on skates.
"I just really wanted it," said Naasz, who let out a loud shout for joy after winning the final a second time within moments in convincing fashion. He admitted it was a huge release of emotions and that he was determined to prove he deserved to win after the final had to be repeated. "That should seal it right there," said Naasz, who becomes the most successful active racer in the sport with seven career wins. He has won four of the last five races going back to 2015.
It was a disappointing evening for French fans, who came to the venue in huge numbers to cheer Tristan Dugerdil and Pacome Schmitt, two of the bright young stars in the sport after finishing fourth and sixth overall last year. But Dugerdil and Schmitt were eliminated in separate quarter-final battles.
But on the bright side, the fans in Marseille were treated to the first-ever freestyle competition, which was won by France's Martin Barrau. The 18-year-old newcomer to the sport also took second place in Friday's first-ever Junior World Championship race for 16 to 20-year-olds.
In the increasingly competitive women's competition, last year's champion Jacqueline Legere of Canada also got her title defence off to a flying start with a comfortable victory down the track kept frozen thanks to three powerful container-sized chillers. American Amanda Trunzo took second place with Sydney O'Keefe, also of the United States, in third.
Results men: 1. Cameron Naasz (USA), 2. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 3. Scott Croxall (CAN), 4. Marco Dallago (AUT), 5. Guillaume Bouvet-Morrissette (CAN), 6. Dan Witty (CAN), 7. Luca Dallago 8. Daniel Bergeson (USA), 9. Tommy Mertz (USA) 10. Jim De Paoli (SUI).
Results women: Jacqueline Legere (CAN), Amanda Trunzo (USA), Sydney O'Keefe (USA), 4. Myriam Trepanier (CAN), 5. Elaine Topolnisky (CAN), 6. Tamara Kajah (CAN), 7. Veronika Windisch (CAN), 8. Maxie Plante (CAN), 9. Amandine Condroyer (FRA), 10. Sandrine Rangeon (FRA)