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Born to skate: Why Canada is dominating ice cross downhill

Red Bull Crashed Ice Quebec Sebastian Marko/Crashed Ice Newsroom

Canadians have won all three Ice Cross Downhill World Championship races this year and four different Canadians have won nine of 23 races since Red Bull Crashed Ice was launched. Born to skate, they’re dominating the sport and with three athletes in the top four they hope to win a first world championship.

With many Canadians getting their first skates at age three and playing hockey at the same time they learn how to talk, it’s not surprising that they’re threatening to rule Red Bull Crashed Ice. Kyle Croxall is on the verge of winning the world title after taking second in 2010 and 2011 while his brother Scott is third overall and another Canadian, Adam Horst, won the last race in Sweden and is in fourth place.

Horst said: “Canadians are just big into hockey. That’s kind of what we do as Canadians – the first thing you do for your kid is buy them skates and get him on the ice. That definitely helps for this sport.”

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Hockey is more than just a sport in Canada; it’s a way of life. But there are other hockey-loving nations that don’t produce as many talented ice cross downhill racers as Canada so why do they continue to dominate the sport?

Their overwhelming prowess was on display in the National Shoot Out in Quebec where every one of the 106 national qualifiers could probably have beaten all the other national qualifiers at other races this year in Saint Paul, Minnesota (USA), Valkenburg (NED) and Are (SWE). A total of 33 Canadians advanced to the 64-man finals, knocking out a dozen international athletes and handing the more experienced racers a humiliating ticket home.

Aside from their fondness for hockey, there are other factors that have helped make Canada the dominant force. There have hosted more races than any other country with seven of the 24 races since 2001 staged in Quebec City. Those races introduce more than 100 new racers each year to the sport. The Croxalls and Horst came into the sport through the National Shoot Out.

“They say we Canadians are born with skates on and there’s some truth to that,” said Troy Manering, a Canadian and Red Bull Crashed Ice TV analyst who has been following the sport since 2003. “It’s ice hockey and winter sports. Guys who have skating skills but can also ski and snowboard, and are able to handle the transitions on slopes tend to do well in ice cross downhill. It’s a sport tailor made for Canadians.”

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