The seemingly unstoppable Canadian, Kyle Croxall, took another stunning victory on Red Bull Crashed Ice’s return to Saint Paul, MN, after an almighty final battle saw the champion fend off the challenge from his never-say-die brother, Scott, and the hard-charging American, Cameron Naasz, to cross the finish line in first.
In the second of five Ice Cross Downhill World Championship races staged around the globe, Croxall secured his second successive win in front of more than 100,000 US spectators who crowded the hill around the Cathedral of Saint Paul to watch the action unfold on the 400-metre-long track where the downhill skaters fought all the way to the finish.
Cameron Naasz was just a few metres away from giving the United States its first-ever victory in the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship before the Canadian brothers, Kyle and Scott Croxall, bolted past the exhausted Minnesotan at the finish line.
Naasz had jumped into the early lead on the twisting, obstacle-filled course just after the start but ran out of energy just a stride or two before the finish line as the two Croxalls sprinted past the fatigued skater near the banks of the frozen Mississippi River.
The breathtaking photo finish was the closest final in the 13-year history of Red Bull Crashed Ice and it took several moments for judges to determine the finishing order. “I just wish I could have got a few more strides in going up that last hill,” said Naasz, who injured his back in a heavy crash in the quarter-finals. “I just didn’t have anything left in the tanks and was just trying to hang on."
Kyle Croxall, the 2012 champion who was also triumphant in Saint Paul a year ago, now has a total of six career victories, said he had a difficult start from an outside gate but stayed on Naasz’s heels all the way down. “You just look for your opportunity when you get it,” said the Canadian firefighter, the hottest racer on the circuit at the moment with four wins in the last six races going back to the start of the 2012 season.
The incredible action kept the American crowd fired up all evening long despite the brutal temperatures that plunged far below freezing and ice-cold winds on what is traditionally the coldest weekend of the year in Minnesota.
Naasz, who finished second in the season opener in December at Niagara Falls, is second overall in the world championship standings with 1400 points behind only defending champion Kyle Croxall (2000 points) with three races left in the five-race 2012/13 season. The next stop is in Landgraaf, in the Netherlands, on February 9.