The women of Ice Cross Downhill have long been overdue their own World Championship, and in 2015/16 they are not only justifying their inclusion on the tour but also proving without doubt that they have the pace, power and skill to thrill and excite the fans of this captivating, full-throttle sport.
Canada's Jacqueline Legere is a woman on a mission, and having won two out of the last three events, her charge toward becoming the first women's Ice Cross Downhill World Champion is gathering the type of speed and momentum that is so synonymous with the sport.
Back at the start of the season Jacqueline revealed that her target was to be No.1, and there aren't many who would bet against her on current form. After just missing out on the final in Quebec City, she took Munich by storm - edging out compatriot Myriam Trepanier in a thrilling finish – and then followed that up by powering through the snow in Avoriaz for a Riders Cup victory the following week. Winning two events in a row in a sport where the skill, determination and competition are growing all the time, is no small feat. It pays testament to the value of an intense pre-season training plan, and Jacqueline is no stranger to hard work and boundary-pushing when it comes to the off-season:
"I partake in a lot of different sports throughout the summer which I think helps me overall with body awareness and agility," she says. "Near the end of the summer is where I do specific Ice Cross training. I usually do CrossFit style workouts a few days a week and try to get in a rollerblade session at Joyride 150 and the Skating Lab (treadmill) in Burlington. Since there are no tracks to train on other than at the races you need a diverse training regimen."
Indeed, a diverse training regimen is clearly one of the key ingredients to getting ahead of the competition, but in a sport where danger lurks on every bend and at every jump, a little bit of bravery and fearlessness goes a long way too. Having worked as a stunt performer for film and TV, it's little wonder that Jacqueline is happy to put her body on the line and throw everything she has into surging down those hazardous tracks at breakneck speeds. One only has to watch the final race in Munich to see what she is all about. Power out of the gates, pace and stamina through the mid-section, and then bravery, agility and downright desire over that final jump:
"It felt amazing to win in Munich. I had a little bit of worry coming down that last hill but very happy I managed to get back to my feet quickly. The moment I knew I was up was the moment I knew I had that race."
Looking at the current standings it's clear that Jacqueline is not the only Canadian enjoying a successful first full season. Joining her in the top four are Myriam Trepanier, Maxie Plante and Elaine Topolniski.
"It has been really awesome competing against my fellow Canadians", says Jacqueline, "we are friends on tour and hang out/stay together. We are a close knit group but when it comes down to it, race time is race time."
Next up is the third Red Bull Crashed Ice Race of the season in Jyväskylä-Laajis, Finland, where a monster 630m track is expected to test the athletes to their very limits. It's a beast that Jacqueline is looking forward to tackling:
"I usually have a pretty good gas tank but I have never raced a track that long, so I am interested to see how it goes. Depending on how many features the course has will depend on how my legs are doing by the end. I think it will be alright but a bit of a challenge to have a sprint for 630m. I am excited to get on the track and see what I will need to accomplish to get a good finish."
Just like that marathon track in Finland, it's been a long and challenging journey for the woman on the quest for their own World Championship. Now that they have accomplished their dream, there are no signs of tired legs or aching bodies. Instead, the energy is pumping, the excitement rising, and the skill and quality increasing race by race.
The women are here to stay, and Jacqueline Legere is well on her way to fulfilling that No.1 promise.