By Samantha Borawski
Traveling at speeds close to 40 mph along a 1,280-foot length track, approximately 200 athletes competed in this year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship Event in St. Paul, Minn., from Jan. 24-26.
Crashed Ice is an ice cross downhill or extreme downhill skating competition that is internationally known. It originated in Sweden in 2001; since then, it has grown into a well- known event, especially with part of the championships taking place in the Twin Cities.
The sport requires athletes to compete at four different locations. This year’s locations are Niagara Falls, Canada; St. Paul, Minn.; Quebec City, Canada; and Lausanne, Switzerland. At each race, competitors earn points that are totaled together with only four athletes competing in the final title race.
One of the athletes hoping to reach the final four is former Saint Mary’s University hockey player and alum David Gross. How does one decide to compete in an event like Crashed Ice?
“After watching the event last year—and the athletes flying down the course at extreme speeds, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” said Gross in an interview with SMU Sports Information Director Donny Nadeau. Gross was amongst 400 other competitors and needed to be in the top 60 to advance to the competition in St. Paul. Racers received two runs; the best time is counted to be in the top qualifiers, with only top times moving on to the actual event. Gross advanced last January and has since been training for the course. This year’s track in St. Paul consists of a three-story tall starting hill, jumps, banked turns and an “ice wall”.
Having years of hockey experience and playing for SMU for four years is definitely a bonus. “I think playing collegiate hockey will certainly work in my favor,” said Gross.
Gross had his work cut out for him, competing against the best of the U.S. as well as internationally. The top three competitors so far in the competition are: Kyle Croxall from Canada, who is also 2012 World Championship winner; Cameron Naasz of the United States; and Kilian Braun of Switzerland.
Though Gross had a huge hill to climb or actually skate down, he told Nadeau, “I’m going to approach this challenge the same way I approached every game I played at Saint Mary’s—fearless.”
Nadeau’s full interview with Gross is available at saintmaryssports.com.