Cameron Naasz: man in transition
Since discovering the fastest sport on skates in 2012, Cameron Naasz has rocketed to prominence, writing history as the first American ever to take an event win, earning a team championship, and finishing second on 2015's individual World Championship podium. At 26, his personal life and professional career are in perpetual transition, and the biggest step he's looking to take is to the top of the World Championship podium.
When Cameron made his Red Bull Crashed Ice debut in St. Paul in 2012, the sport was dominated by Europeans and Canadians. The former hockey player's twenty-fourth-place result was the best of the U.S. entries.
"It was just four guys, and we had no idea what we were doing," Cameron remembers. "Then I worked really hard in the off season and started off 2013 with a big result."
That result was second place in Niagara Falls, and by the end of the season Cameron had clinched the first American event win with a triumph in Lausanne. Factor in a killer smile and approachable attitude, and a star was born.
Cameron's victory at the 2015/16 season opener at Red Bull Crashed Ice in Quebec City was his fourth individual event win, and the fact that he takes other U.S. up-and-comers under his wing was part of the reason that American athletes were on all three steps of the podium in the team competition there.
"I'm proud of where we've brought Team USA. It's great to see the sport develop like that. It's huge," he states.
Cameron's personal life is developing as well. He and his girlfriend have moved into a new home in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, about an hour and a half from St. Cloud State University, where he's finishing up a public relations major. Add his career as an ice cross downhill pro and his calendar is jam packed.
"My typical training schedule is I'll drive up to St. Cloud on a Sunday night, and I'll take Monday off. Tuesday I'll be on the BMX track, Wednesday I do running and light body weight workouts, and Thursday I'm driving back to the Cities and I'll do a skating treadmill workout and be in the gym," he explains. "Friday I'll be in the gym doing CrossFit and other workouts and then we'll go to a skate park or something, and Saturday and sometimes Sunday it's the gym. And then I just do it all over again."
Mirroring his everyday life, one of Cameron's skating strengths is transitions: he excels at building speed when pumping out of one section of the track to another. In terms of style, he sees himself a glider, saying, "I feel more confident when I'm gliding in a tuck – then I can attack at good angles."
Of course, the goal he's angling for is the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship.
"Winning the championship means a lot to me – it's everything," Cameron declares. "Why put in all that effort to come in second place? All I want to do is win."
Cameron Naasz wins the final race of 2015 in Edmonton