Oh Brother! Blood is Thicker than Ice

Kyle Croxall and Scott Croxall
How sibling pairs have come to dominate the sport of Ice Cross Downhill

Many of the world's best Ice Cross Downhill athletes are pairs of brothers. Incredibly, two of the four finalists at the first Red Bull Crashed Ice race of the season have brothers in the world's fastest sport on skates. That raises an interesting question about the sport -- why do brother pairs do so well?

Three of the last five Ice Cross Downhill world champions are brothers and four of the top seven racers in this year's competition have brothers in the competition. Canada's Kyle Croxall and his brother Scott have both won the overall title in the past while Austria's Marco Dallago, the 2014 champ and currently 4th overall, Scott Croxall (2nd), Luca Dallago (12th) and American Dan Witty (5th) are at the top of the standings this season.

What makes Ice Cross Downhill the sport of brotherly love? Do brothers have some kind of special advantage in Red Bull Crashed Ice and the sport where four athletes at a time race down ice-covered, obstacle-filled tracks at speeds of up to 80 km/h? Perhaps brothers just have a natural habit of pushing each other to the limits – an incredibly important ingredient for success in a sport that requires speed, stamina, agility and courage.

"It's an individual sport but we push each other as hard as we can," said Scott Croxall, a business entrepreneur who won the title in 2015, of his older brother Kyle, a fireman. He took up the sport at age 18 after watching Kyle compete in Quebec City, Canada. "We want to see the other do well – to be on top of the sport. It's a civilized competition."

Scott Croxall (L) and Kyle Croxall (R) on track together at the first Red Bull Crashed Ice of 2016/17 in Marseille. Photo: Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool.

Kyle Croxall, who won the world title in 2012 but was second in 2011 and 2013, added that they definitely helped each other whenever possible but that both are going out on the ice to win: "It's not a brotherly rivalry. It's a brotherly competition. We are similar in what we can do," said Kyle. "We've travelled nine or ten years together. So we find out ways to get faster on the track and tell each other. We give each other tips on how to get better."

Marco Dallago won the 2014 championship but was eclipsed last season by his younger brother Luca, who finished fifth overall. "Of course I try to beat him but he's really fast," said Luca. "It's special to race against him."

Marco has had a strong start to the 2016/17 season, winning the Riders Cup in Wagrain-Kleinarl and taking fourth in the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Marseille. He said that he and Luca have only met three times in a race so far but believes his younger brother will be on top of the sport one day.

The Dallagos engage in a playful tussle, but during competition there's no 'holding back' against each other. Photo: Daniel Grund/Red Bull Content Pooll.

"Luca has had a bit of tough luck at times because he messes up on stuff that he normally does well," said Marco. "As soon as he stops making those little mistakes, he'll be right up there. I hope that will happen soon. I'm always happy when he does well. To be in a final or semi-final with him would be cool. I don't want to beat him more than anything else. But I do want to beat him and he wants to beat me. I won't hold back in a race against him – no way."

Besides American brothers Dan and Tyler Witty, another top-ranked brother pair comes from Canada. Dylan and Dean Moriarity. It might seem that at a first glance, having to compete against your sibling in the same championship would cause all sorts of personal conflicts, but at the Red Bull Crashed Ice it all stays in the family.

The twins from Montreal have always been pushing themselves to get better – pretty much from the moment when Dean was born just a few minutes before Dylan. "We have been playing hockey together since we were four. I was on the center line and (Dean) was left wing," said Dylan. "That was a huge part of our lives. Any rivalry sport we do together, tennis or golf, we play against each other. If I do a backflip, he would want to do a backflip. When he got better on that test, I wanted to get better on that test. This rivalry makes us better."

Dylan and Dean Moriarity often discuss tracks together, and say their rivalry helps make them better. Photo: Daniel Grund/Red Bull Content Pool.

Dylan added: "We think alike. We even tell the same stories. We talk about the tracks together. If he (Dean) has a problem in one section, he'll tell me what to do. We have the exact same shape, size and weight. We take exactly the same line. We are focused on racing more than anything. We definitely talk about it all."

Dean, of course, agreed with everything that Dylan said.