There’s a pretty good chance that you were in the river valley on Saturday night. About a one in 10 chance, that is, because almost 10 per cent of Edmonton’s population gathered around the Shaw Conference Centre for the city’s first time hosting Red Bull Crashed Ice.
An estimated 70,000 people descended upon the region to watch Red Bull and adrenalin-fuelled athletes barrel downhill on an ice covered track at speeds reaching 70 kmh. The 415-metre circuit was full of deadly drops, massive jumps, tight corners and a 45-metre elevation drop. The Edmonton event was the final stop of the 2015 Crashed Ice World Tour, which also included stops in St. Paul, Minnesota, Helsinki, Finland and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
At the end of the night, American Cameron Naasz rose out of the men’s field of 64 competitors to win Edmonton’s race, followed by Canada’s Scott Croxall. American Tommy Mertz finished in third.
Croxall, however, won the night’s biggest accolade. He was crowned the overall champion of the 2015 World Tour. He accumulated the most points over the four city championships after winning all three previous events. “You’re wild, Edmonton! Thanks for cheering me on. It’s amazing. I couldn’t be happier,” said Croxall after the race. Salla Kyhala of Finland won the women’s race. She also took the top spot in the St. Paul edition of Crashed Ice, and finished the women’s world tour with the most points. In Edmonton, she was followed closely by a pair of Canadians. Elaine Topolnisky finished second and Tamara Kajah came in third. There was also a team event held on Friday night. The group “Living the Dream” won that contest, which drew about 15,000 spectators. The team included Croxall, Naasz, Scott’s brother Kyle Croxall and Canadian Adam Horst. In the team event, six riders (three from each team) compete at the same time with points awarded for each finishing position.
Horst finished sixth in the men’s event while Kyle Croxall finished 15th. The occasion electrified the city’s downtown core over the weekend. The region was a sea of smiling faces, of all ages, more than happy to stand in the muddy, soggy fields for hours to get a glimpse of the weekend’s festivities. Saturday’s warm weather definitely pumped up attendance, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees at race time (although it wasn’t enough to soften the ice on the track, which was kept cool with 36,000 litres of coolant running beneath the surface). Some spectators arrived hours before the races began in order to secure a trackside viewing location. Crashed Ice also brought food trucks, beer gardens, live music and heated patio parties to the downtown core. Both #crashedice and #yeg were trending nationally throughout the evening.
There has been no word on whether or not the event, which was previously held in Quebec City, will return to Edmonton next year. The scale of the event’s monetary success in the capital city will likely be a big factor when the time comes for making that decision.