In January, the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship makes its American debut, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The event, which attracted a crowd of 110,000 in Quebec City last year, combines ice hockey and ski cross: four racers, each outfitted in full hockey gear, reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour on an icy luge track with jumps and banked turns. This year, Canadian firefighter Kyle Croxall, 23, is the man to beat.
OUTSIDE: How’d you get into this?
CROXALL: I had seen the sport on TV a couple of years before I tried it out. I have a background in hockey and snowboarding. It’s all about being stable.
How do you practice?
There’s a track in Austria, so that’s where the Europeans go. In Canada, we just play hockey and go to the gym.
How many of the competitors are pro hockey players?
Lots of them have played in the NHL and European pro leagues, but it’s not just for washed-up hockey players. We’ve had people from the NHL come as hosts, and most of them can’t go down the track without falling.
There must be some spectacular wipeouts.
Lots. Once you get close, you’re allowed to battle for position. You’re not allowed to intentionally hit somebody, but you can push someone out of your way.
Crashing has got to hurt.
You can get hit from behind and crash into the boards, break your ribs—anything is possible. All sports have their dangers.