Ice Cross Downhill athletes come from all walks of life: firefighters, police officers, gym teachers, students and public relations. But it is hard to imagine anyone having a better background for the world's fastest sport on skates than Canada's Jacqueline Legere.
The two-time Ice Cross Downhill world champion is a professional stuntwoman for films and TV productions in Canada and readily agrees that the cross-fertilization helps her enormously in both her job and her favorite sport.
"My job as a stunt woman and racing go hand in hand," said Legere, 25, who grew up in a small town of St. George, Ontario that is an hour outside of Toronto. "Being a stunt woman means you really have to have good body awareness and be able to stay calm in intense situations, which of course helps with Red Bull Crashed Ice."
Legere emerged victorious from one of the most memorable crashes at the Munich Red Bull Crashed Ice Race in 2016, one of the steepest and fastest courses ever built. She and fellow Candian Myriam Trepanier were battling for the victory and both crashed spectacularly just before the finish. Yet Legere managed to quickly bounce back on her feet and cross the finish line in Munich just ahead for first place, a victory that put her on course for the 2016 world championship.
"Another thing that really helps is knowing how to fall so you don't injure yourself," she said of the stuntwoman training. "Of course, it doesn't always work. The skills can really be transferable. Being a racer has helped me become more known in the business and shows off my skills when coordinators watch me race."
At first glance, Legere might not stand out in a crowd as she is only just 5 foot, 4 inches tall and weighs a feathery 123 pounds. But her long hair, bright pink jerseys and never-say-die racing style have made her the woman to watch in Ice Cross Downhill races across Europe and North America over the last several years. She has won both women's championships since the global competition was introduced in 2016 and had won a number of one-off Red Bull Crashed Ice races before 2016 as well. She has won four Red Bull Crashed Ice races out of the 15 she has competed in, making her the most successful women's racer of all time, and won a total of eight Ice Cross Downhill races out of the 24 races she's taken part in.
"I love the energy of the crowds, the unique challenges of each track and I love travelling around the world and seeing new places," said Legere. "I love making new friendships and obviously the competition. All in all, it's an amazing experience and I'm grateful to be part of that." She said her least favorite part of the racing is seeing a new race track built and ready to go several days before the race but not being able to get on it right away as final preparations are made. "The anticipation and waiting game are tortuous," she said. "Looking at the track and not being able to go out on it is no fun."
She grew up, like most good Canadians, with skates. She began as a figure skater when she was a toddler before joining her older brother to play hockey and later also played soccer. Looking for more thrills, she turned to skiing, inline skating, wakeboarding, longboarding, dirt-bike racing, xc and dh biking and skydiving.
"I have always loved sports with adrenaline and played a lot of hockey growing up," she said. "So when I first saw Red Bull Crashed Ice, I knew it was something that I wanted to try. I honestly just stumbled upon it on TV and then saw a Youtube add about signing up for it."
She was in college studying criminology and training to be a police officer at the time back in 2011 but the sport and a chance to work as a stuntwoman changed her life.
"Since a young age, I had always thought being a stuntwoman would be an amazing job," she said. "I really didn't think I'd ever actually be able to do it because I didn't know where to start. I was pretty fortunate for the way my stunt career began. I have played soccer all my life and the show 'Degrassi' needed a good female soccer player that was the same size as me and there was no one in the business that fit that description. I'm very grateful that this dream has come true."
Having won back-to-back championships, Legere knows that the women in the field will be going all out to stop her next winter and is fully aware that the woman's competition has made enormous leaps forward in the last two seasons thanks to the creation of the full world championship.
"I'm happy that all the hard work, training and time I've put into the sport has paid off," she said. "It's possible to win a third championship in a row but the women's competition and skill level is increasing at a fast pace and the other women are hungry for the win. I know everyone is training really hard in the off season so it means that I will have to work even harder to stay on top. We'll just have to see what happens. I'm looking forward to the challenge."