American Cameron Naasz and Canada's Scott Croxall might be locked in an intense battle for the 2015/16 Ice Cross Downhill World Championship but the leaders of the pack managed to find time to relax and unwind on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Finland with Tristan Dugerdil of France, Kilian Braun (Switzerland), Sweden's Michael Johansson and Finnish hero Miikka Jouhkimainen.
Michael Johansson of Sweden and France's Tristan Dugerdil enjoy the ride ahead of competition in Jyväskylä-Laajis. Photo: Sebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool.
The riders warmed up for the racing action this weekend in frigid Finland with some light-heated training on the longest Ice Cross Downhill track ever created -- some 630 meters long with a frightening 66-meter vertical drop. They also tuned up on a nearby frozen lake with teams of huskies, extremely competitive animals also eager to be the top dog.
Looking into the eyes of a champion - Scott Croxall gets up close with one of the huskies. Photo: Sebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool.
This is the only Red Bull Crashed Ice track on natural ice this season. "Natural ice is good to skate on when it's very cold outside," said Red Bull Crashed Ice sporting director Christian Papillon. Temperatures, which have plunged to 35 degrees below zero, have been so cold in Jyväskylä that it has wreaked havoc with the track builders. It was so cold that some of the hoses used to spray water on the slope froze and cracked, and had to be replaced. In general, natural ice tracks tend to be bumpier and invariably more challenging with a greater variation of ice conditions from the start high up on the mountains to the finish lines down in the valleys than the more perfect and consistent ice conditions throughout created by cooling systems that are buried beneath the artificial ice tracks. The extra bumps, gouges, divots and obstacles can also create some early-round upsets with some of the favourites getting knocked out of the race.
WATCH IT LIVE: Red Bull Crashed Ice Jyväskylä-Laajis will broadcast live on redbullcrashedice.com and Red Bull TV at 7:15pm CET on January 30. 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.
US fans please note that the live webcast and replay is geo-blocked in the US due to an exclusive broadcast deal with FOX Sports. The event will air on FOX Sports 1 on Monday, February 15 at 4:30pm EST. Following this it will be available on demand at Red Bull TV.