Ice skating, from its gracefulness in Olympic figure skating to the physical beat down in hockey and even the cliché first date, there are many forms. If you’re like me and from Texas or another state near the south, ice skating happens in rinks and you’re probably spending most of that time falling on the ice rather than having fun. However, a new rendition of skating has been slowly growing in popularity, thanks to Red Bull, and it’s called crashed ice—the fastest sport on ice.
Crashed ice, also known as Ice Cross Downhill, is a culmination of Hockey and, you guessed it, Downhill racing. Each race starts with four competitors at the top of a hill, and once the starting horn goes off, they fly out of the gate and on to the track. The track is designed for a high speed and physical race, so it’s not surprising to see some big wipeouts. On each track the competitors face a number of obstacles, like hairpin turns, big jumps, and even bigger drops, that they will have to maneuver while hitting speeds up to 50 mph.
Only 64 men and 32 women are invited to compete in each Red Bull Crashed Ice event, and it all depends on their world ranking. The format of the race is simple, four racers take the track and the top two finishers of each heat move on to the next round until only four are left in the final round. At the end of the season both the male and female competitors atop the World Ranking are crowned the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Champion.
Originally there was just the designated Ice races, which began in 2001, now due to the growing popularity of Ice Cross Downhill and the creation of the All Terrain Skate Cross Federation (ATSX) in 2015 the sport has become more accessible to everyday athletes with the creation of the Riders Cup series. The Riders Cup Races are open to everyone—men, women, amateurs and professionals—looking to get into the sport or train in a competitive atmosphere. In these races the ATSX ranks each competitor worldwide based on the number of points they receive. Points are given based on how each competitor finishes in their races and how far they advance into the competition. Points received from the Riders Cup races, National Championship races, and Red Bull Crashed Ice Races create the world ranking. Based on world ranking, some are invited to the next Red Bull Crashed Ice event, and at the end of the season the top riders battle it out for the title of Crashed Ice World Champion.
For many winter sports the main goal is to be an Olympic sport, and that isn't any different for the sport of crashed ice. Crashed Ice could very well be the next sport to be included in the Olympics following in the footsteps of snowboard cross which was first introduced in 1991 and became an Olympic event in 2006. Crashed ice is a sport that is really entertaining to watch and has an athlete pool that is full of talent. With each season the sport grows bigger and bigger so don’t be surprised when the next event is in your hometown.