The 2015/16 Ice Cross Downhill World Championship came to a dramatic conclusion in Saint Paul with local hero Cameron Naasz snatching the title away from Canada's Scott Croxall in a nerve-tingling battle to the finish decided by just inches in the very final race at the very end of a grueling 10-stop season.
Naasz became the first American to win the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship on Saturday with a stirring victory under intense pressure in front of tens of thousands of spectators in the season finale at home in Saint Paul, beating Canada's Croxall into second place overall. It was Naasz's third Red Bull Crashed Ice win this season as the man from Minnesota capped the most brilliant season in the 16-year history of the world's fastest sport on skates.
Croxall ignored the deafening chants of "USA, USA, USA" from the huge crowd in the final after advancing through four grueling knock-out rounds to push Naasz hard all the way to the finish line, coming just inches short of becoming the first rider to win back-to-back championships. On a fabulous night for racing in front of the majestic Cathedral of Saint Paul, with mild temperatures and a frenzied crowd, France's Tristan Dugerdil got a career-best third place racing down the most exciting course of the season with a daunting BF Goodrich Wallride and fantastic 16-foot high step-up near the finish while Maxwell Dunne took fourth to give the United States their best showing ever.
"It feels amazing," said Naasz, who grew up near Saint Paul and was basking in the cheers from his hometown crowd at the fifth straight race in the city that has become a global hotspot for Ice Cross Downhill. "Let's go Minnesota. It was a crazy season. The battle couldn't have gone on any longer. I don't know how I did it. I knew Scott was right behind me so I didn't hit the brakes and went for it."
Naasz, who had been trailing Croxall by 65 points coming into the final after Croxall outperformed him in the six Riders Cup races, was in a class of his own through the rounds of 64, 32, 16 and semi-finals down the 360-meter long track. His rocket-like starts out of the gates put him comfortably in front all the way to the final until Croxall stayed with him all the way down the track. Naasz prevailed in a nail-biting final and finished first in the race and overall with a total of 3,385 points while Croxall ended up with 3,150. It was the biggest season in the sport's history with 10 races in six countries.
It was a triple victory for Naasz, who joined the sport at the first Saint Paul race in 2012, after he helped his team Living the Dream win the team competition championship together with Scott Croxall, Kyle Croxall and Adam Horst on Friday night.
Canada's Jacqueline Legere won the women's world championship with a victory in the final while compatriot Myriam Trepanier took second overall and Alexis Jackson, who was second in Saint Paul, finished third overall. Tamara Kajah took third in Saint Paul. Elaine Topolnisky was fourth overall.
Men's results Saint Paul: 1. Cameron Naasz (USA), Scott Croxall (CAN), 3. Tristan Dugerdil (FRA), 4. Maxwell Dunne (USA) 5. Luca Dallago (AUT), 6. Kyle Croxall (CAN), 7. Dan Witty (USA), 8. Derek Wedge (SUI), 9. Kilian Braun (SUI), 10. Guillaume Bouvet-Morrisette (CAN).
Men's final standings: 1. Cameron Naasz (USA) 3,385 points, 2. Scott Croxall (CAN) 3,150, 3. Dean Moriarity (CAN) 2,300, 4. Tristan Dugerdil (FRA) 1,960, 5. Luca Dallago (AUT) 1,617, 6. Pacôme Schmitt (FRA) 1,445, 7. Maxwell Dunne (USA) 1,337, 8. Kilian Braun (SUI) 1,320, 9. Kyle Croxall (CAN) 1,220, 10. John Fisher (CAN) 1,082.50
Women's results Saint Paul: 1. Jacqueline Legere (CAN), 2. Alexis Jackson (USA), 3. Tamara Kajah (CAN), 4. Myriam Trepanier (CAN), 5. Michaela Michaelson (USA). 6. Sydney O'Keefe (USA), 7. Sadie Lundquist (USA), 8. Anais Morand (SUI), 9. Maxie Plante (CAN), 10. Emma Krieter (USA)
Women's final standings: 1. Jaqueline Legere (CAN) 2,800 points, 2. Myriam Trepanier (CAN) 2,300, 3. Alexis Jackson (USA) 2,300, 4. Elaine Topolnisky (CAN), 1,700, 5. Sydney O'Keefe (USA) 1,500, 6. Maxie Plante (CAN) 1,450, 7. Tamara Kajah (CAN) 1,250, 8. Amanda Trunzo (USA) 1,080, 9. Michaela Michaelson (USA) 1,060, 10. Anais Morand (SUI) 800.
WATCH IT AGAIN: Red Bull Crashed Ice Saint Paul is available on demand via redbullcrashedice.com and Red Bull TV. 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.
In the US, the finale will air as a special full length broadcast on FOX Sports, Saturday, March 5 at 4:30 pm ET/1:30 pm PT.