The capital of Minnesota kicked off the Red Bull Crashed Ice season on the frozen banks of the Mississippi River on January 24.
American aces have been racing for a few years in the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship, but they were hoping that hard training in the off-season and a ferocious dedication to the sport would pay off in Saint Paul at the inaugural event of the season. With local hero Cameron Naasz, a native of Minnesota, having pushed the boundaries of the sport and almost clinched the title in 2014, and the likes of Canadian Scott Croxall and the defending champion, Marco Dallago, of Austria, lacing up for action, it promises to be another year of fierce competition.
For the past three freezing-cold winters, Saint Paul has hosted the ice cross downhill competition, with a huge crowd of more than 100,000 people converging under the gaze of the imposing Cathedral of Saint Paul to witness the high-speed action that features skaters competing in four-man heats in a race to the bottom of a long ice track full of obstacles. The sport appeals to what Americans like most in sports – a physically challenging, rough, tough sport coupled with high-speed action and agility. Americans have done surprisingly well as neophytes in their first few years in the 15-year-old sport, despite having far less experience than established nations like Canada, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
The 2015 track began in front of the Cathedral of Saint Paul with the riders propelled over a bridge. Their skills were put to the test, as the skaters needed to build momentum to face the obstacles, the last banked corner, and the final sprint to the finish line.
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