Austria's Marco Dallago will be looking to hold onto his Ice Cross Downhill World Championship lead as the title battles heat up at the third Red Bull Crashed Ice race of the season in Marseille, France. American Amanda Trunzo could clinch the women's championship with a victory, or even a podium finish, while Finland's Mirko Lahti could be crowned Junior World Champion for a second straight year with a win.
Red Bull Crashed Ice returns to Marseille on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea after races in frosty Finland with high-speed downhill ice skating action on Feb. 16-17 as the world's best Ice Cross Downhill racers battle it out for precious championship points. With six different winners in the first six Ice Cross Downhill World Championship races, this year's title fight has turned into an epic battle and the outcome is still wide open as the second half of the season gets into full swing at the third of four Red Bull Crashed Ice races.
Attempting to become the first European champion in four years, Austria's Marco Dallago (1,855 points) is clinging to a melting lead atop the standings as hard-charging Scott Croxall (1,600 points) of Canada and defending champion Cameron Naasz (1,100 points) of the United States both got on the podium in last week's star-studded Riders Cup race in Saariselka, Finland. There are nine other riders from six countries still within striking range of Dallago heading into the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Marseille, where the field of contenders could be whittled down to a handful. The top seven are all within 1,000 points of each other.
"The level of competition is really high this season throughout the top 10 – it's still anyone's race," said Red Bull Crashed Ice Sporting Director Christian Papillon. "There's no room for mistakes. Naasz learned that the hard way in the first two Red Bull Crashed Ice races – where he stumbled twice while in the lead. It will be difficult for him to win a third straight World Championship but it's still possible with a win this weekend." Naasz won in Marseille a year ago and can hardly wait to get back on the ice in the Mediterranean. "I'll be coming for blood in Marseille," Naasz said.
Cameron Naasz needs a repeat of last season's win in Marseille to keep his hopes of a third successive title alive. Photo: Mihai Stetcu/Red Bull Content Pool.
It's a completely different story in the women's championship, where American Amanda Trunzo will be looking to clinch the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship after winning the first two Red Bull Crashed Ice races in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Jyväskylä, Finland. Trunzo (2,000 points) is holding a comfortable lead over Canada's Myriam Trepanier (1,300 points) in second place and Jacqueline Legere, the two-time women's champion, (1,090 points) in third place. Trunzo, who was also in the overall lead at the midway point last season before slumping, will be eager to gain revenge on Legere, who beat her in Marseille last year en route to her second straight title. A win for the American would guarantee her the title, and even a second or third place could be enough depending on how others finish.
There are two more Riders Cup races, where the winners collect 250 points, remaining in North America and two more Red Bull Crashed Ice races, where the winners collect 1,000 points, including the season finale in Edmonton, Canada.
"There are expectations that I'll be in the final and have a great result but what I really want to do is what I did all summer long while preparing for the races – just go out there and give it all, every time," said Marco Dallago, who won in Saint Paul and took fourth in Jyväskylä.
"The tracks are so different so they suit different people and the competition is tight so anything goes on any given day," added the Austrian, explaining why there are so many people still in the title hunt. "It also seems like all the top guys are making more mistakes this year than usual. That has caused a lot of upsets so far."
The 2014 world champion and the last European to wear the crown did well in Marseille as well last year, taking fourth on the challenging track that wends its way towards the old harbor, while Naasz's victory in Marseille propelled him on his way to his second straight Ice Cross Downhil World Championship.
After wins in Saint Paul and Jyväskylä, Amanda Trunzo can secure the women's title with another victory in France. Photo: Balazs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool.
The conditions could hardly be more different in the southern French city that lies nearly 4,000 kilometers south of last week's Riders Cup race in northern Finland. Riders in the world's fastest sport on skates will be racing again on smooth artificial ice after the last races on the more uneven natural ice tracks in Finland. Temperatures in sunny Marseille will be up to 10 degrees Celsius in Marseille, which is about 20 to 30 degrees warmer than in northern Finland, which was for the most part cloudy and dark. Thanks to a high-tech cooling system and advancements in track building that have made it possible to race on ice despite temperatures well above the freezing point.
In the Junior World Championship, titleholder Lahti of Finland will be looking to extend his winning streak to six straight races and could also clinch the championship in the penultimate race of the season. With 2,000 points, Lahti has been unstoppable this season and holds a 700-point lead over Jesse Sauren (FIN) in second place and a 1,040-point lead over Joni Saarinen (FIN) in third place.
Watch Live from Marseille
Red Bull Crashed Ice Marseille will broadcast LIVE on redbullcrashedice.com and Red Bull TV on February 17 at 8.45 PM CET (7.45 PM GMT).
Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. For a full list of supported devices visit about.redbull.tv.
If you miss the event or simply want to watch all the action again, the replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.