It’s the Winter Classic meeting the X Games, I guess, but it’s also sorta like racing down a bobsled or luge track in hockey skates: Red Bull’s Crashed Ice competition, which dates back about a decade but only recently came to my attention thanks to Versus’ expansive coverage of all things hockey. My father and I were awaiting the broadcast of an NHL playoff game together the other night and discovered this icy urban mayhem as the game’s lead-in. The competition dad and I watched together had taken place earlier this winter in Quebec City. And we couldn’t take out eyes off it.
The creators of this sport clearly were influenced by wrecks in auto racing. There are clearly vestiges of roller derby to it, too. The man-made track, which hosts four skaters per race, runs more than 1,500 feet in length and features jumps and crash-ensuring hairpin turns. No skater apparently should make it down the track without at least one notable spill:
The sport’s Wikipedia page describes the pursuit as “a winter extreme sporting event, which involves downhill skating in an urban environment, on a track which includes steep turns and high vertical drops.” A 2007 New York Times feature on Crashed Ice actually credits the energy drink producer with creating the sport.
“Part of Crashed Ice’s charm is that it offers a shot at the big-time for those whose hockey dreams have been unfulfilled,” the Times suggests.
“If you played hockey and dreamed of the N.H.L., but couldn’t make it, you look at Crashed Ice and say, ‘I could do that,’ ” Keith DeGrace, communication director for Red Bill Canada, told the Times.
Some 35,000 Quebecers lined the temporary ice track and watched the competition this past winter. The skaters whizzed by them at 35 miles an hour plus. I’m one who’s long ridiculed NASCAR and its regional culture of wreck-wishers and monotonous action, but Crashed Ice seems to hold much of the same allure.
Am I a white-neck?