OTTAWA – SPORTS – With two new spectacular stops in Marseille and Ottawa, a total of four Red Bull Crashed Ice races in four countries along with six Riders Cup races and a new junior world championship, the 2016/17 ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship is shaping up to be the most competitive in the 17-year history of the world’s fastest sport on skates. With fearless skaters racing down obstacle-filled ice tracks of up to about 600 meters long four-at-a-time and at speeds of up to 80 km/h, Ice Cross Downhill has emerged as a major international sport with athletes from more than 20 countries and five continents competing in front of crowds of up to 100,000 spectators.
The Red Bull Crashed Ice season will kick off on January 13-14 in France with the spectacular race that concludes with the finish line in the port of Marseille, which has been designated as the European Capital of sports 2017. Despite what could even be balmy mid-winter Mediterranean temperatures, ice- producing machines will create an outstanding race track. The world championship then moves to the far northern reaches of Europe in Jyvaskyla for a second year in a row on January 20-21 where the temperatures are frigid enough for a natural ice track at the university town’s ski resort.
“This sport just keeps growing in popularity every year and this year is definitely going to take it to the next level,” said Christian Papillon, the championship’s sporting director. “Along with two popular stops coming back in Jyvaskyla-Laajis, Finland and Saint Paul, Minnesota, we’ve got two new races in incredible environments on the calendar: Le Vieux Port de Marseille in France is a mind-boggling location because it’s not even close to being a winter city; and we’re going to introduce a new location in Ottawa. They’re going to be insane.”
Back in the calendar for the sixth straight season, Saint Paul, Minnesota will be the venue for the third race on Feb 3-4. It features a technical track that wends its way from the majestic Saint Paul Cathedral towards the banks of the Mississippi River and some 100,000 frenzied spectators. The season concludes a month later on March 3-4 with the first-ever race in Ottawa, a highlight of Canada’s 150th national anniversary celebrations on a track built on the city’s iconic locks system where a crowd of 100,000 or more is also expected.
There will also be six Riders Cup competitions – races staged by riders for riders that are worth 1⁄4 as many championship points as the Red Bull Crashed Ice stages. The traditional season opener will be in Wagrain- Kleinarl, Austria on December 10 with the next stop in Rautalampi, Finland on January 28, as well as in Sherbrooke, Canada. The forth stop will be in Moscow on February 4 and the last two races will be in Canada, in La Sarre on February 18 and back in Bathurst, Canada on Feb 25.
Red Bull Crashed Ice season calendar: Jan. 13-14 – Marseille, France / Jan. 20-21 – Jyvasklya-Laajis, Finland / Feb 3-4 – Saint Paul, USA / March 3-4 – Ottawa, Canada.
Riders Cup calendar: Dec. 10 – Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria / Jan. 28 – Rautalampi, Finland / Jan. 28 Sherbrooke, Canada / Feb. 4 – Moscow, Russia / Feb. 18 – La Sarre, Canada / Feb. 25 – Bathurst, Canada.