Whether it’s on the ice or fighting fires, Kyle Croxall always gives 100 per cent. And it’s this determination that has made the 24-year-old Canadian the current Ice Cross Downhill World Champion.
'All the others will try to get me but I am up for the challenge'
Being Canadian means, whether you’re playing or watching, you’ve grown up with ice hockey. In the Big Country, the puck and stick reign supreme. At the Croxall home, Kyle’s dad took it a step further by building his children an ice rink in their backyard. “That’s where I started skating when I was only two years old,” says Croxall, who is a Canadian Forces Firefighter. “It might seem young, but I’m grateful to have got off to an early start. Starting young has helped me become who I am on the ice today.”
A tale of fire and ice
Like many Canadian boys, Kyle grew up dreaming of becoming a hockey pro. He played for his high school team and later in the Junior A league. But just as he looked set for the NHL, he decided to follow a more altruistic dream. “Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a firefighter," he says. “It’s about helping other people and watching out for them. Being able to give something back to the community is very special to me and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. It was a dream that was always there.” So he swapped the skates and stick for boots and fire axe, and made his way to the firefighters academy in Ottawa, not knowing that the path to the Canadian capital would also lead back to the ice. It was there that Kyle heard of Red Bull Crashed Ice for the first time and joined the try-outs. “I decided to give it a go. I came second in the qualifiers before moving on to the next round in Quebec. When they asked me to join Red Bull Crashed Ice, I said yes and never looked back. Now I have it all, being a firefighter and competing on ice. I can’t think of anything better.”
The past and the future
Kyle knows very well that being the titleholder also makes him the one to beat. “I‘m wearing the bull’s eye. All the others will try to get me, but I am up for the challenge,” he says, knowing his own strengths. “My brother Scott and Arttu will definitely be my closest opponents, just like last year, but I won‘t make it easy for them. I will give it my all. There is nothing I want more than to win again.” It runs in the family. There is another Croxall with his eye on the crown. In 2008, when Kyle went into his first Red Bull Crashed Ice season, his younger brother Scott (now 22) was among the spectators watching his older brother take on the big guns. That was when he fell for the sport and decided to follow the same icy path. “Scott tried out after my first season and has been on the road ever since. I love it, it‘s great to have your brother with you at all times, especially because we can’t see each other much during the off season, since we live in different provinces. He knows how I feel and understands what this is all about. It‘s a big advantage to have him to train with me.”
Two rivals – training together? Isn‘t that a contradiction? Not for the Croxall brothers. “Sure, on the track Scott and I are competitors, but off it, we’re a team, no matter what. We always train together between the different stops. We give each other feedback and help each other out. We learn from one another and grow together as brothers and athletes.” Family is definitely one of the most important things in Kyle‘s life. “My parents have always supported us in whatever we wanted to do and Red Bull Crashed Ice is no exception. Some parents might be worried about their sons racing down narrow ice tracks at the speeds we do, but ours love it – especially my mother. They are just very passionate and have been to every single one of our races and will continue to be a big part of this season as well.”