Jim De Paoli Takes Finland Ice Cross

Start of the race in Finland Ice Cross
Start of the race in Finland Ice Cross
Start of the race in Finland Ice Cross
Start of the race in Finland Ice Cross

The Ice Cross Downhill World Championship moved towards the midway point of the 2016/17 season with a Riders Cup race in Rautalampi, Finland. Jim De Paoli of Switzerland won the tight race while American Max Dunne moved ahead of Cameron Naasz and Canada’s Kyle Croxall into first place overall after four of nine races.

RAUTALAMPI, Finland – Switzerland’s Jim De Paoli won the second Riders Cup race of the 2016/17 Ice Cross Downhill World Championship in the frosty Finnish town of Rautalampi on Saturday while American Maxwell Dunne moved into first place overall with second place with his third straight second-place performance and compatriot Cameron Naasz, the reigning champion, moved into second place overall in the title fight with third place in the race on a challenging natural ice track Saturday in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 1,000.

De Paoli got the fir st win of his long career in the world’s fastest sport on skates, taking the top spot in a star-studded final four that also included Canada’s Kyle Croxall, who finished fourth. His brother Scott Croxall, the 2015 champion, was fifth place. Scott Croxall had won last week’s Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Jväskylä, Finland to throw the championship in a three-way tie at the top with Dunne and Naasz. Dunne won 200 points on Saturday and now leads the championship with 1,800 points while Naasz got 150 for third and now has 1,750 and Croxall has 1,712.5. There were 108 men in the race, chasing valuable world championship points, while 11 women were also competing.

“I felt good on this track from the beginning,” said De Paoli of the 540-meter long track featuring double waves, step-downs, three jumps and four banked turns. “It’s weird that it’s never happened before,” he said of his first win. “It’s going to take a while for that to dawn on me. Right now the f ocus is on next week’s Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Saint Paul.”

Naasz was just beaten in a photo finish by Dunne at the finish line in the battle for second place but said he was happy to get his third straight podium in three races his season: first in Marseille, third in Jyväskylä-Laajis and in Rautalampi. “I gave Max a good run at the finish line but he was able to hold me off. I’m loving the American battle.”

Ice Cross Finland
Ice Cross Finland

In another strong showing for racers from Finland, a country that has warmly embraced Ice Cross Downhill, Paavo Klintrup took  seventh and Mirko Lahti was 10th.

In the women’s race, Sandrine Rangeon of France took top honors while Finland’s Camilla Ojapalo was second and Katrina Buesch of Germany was third.

“I really enjoy the natural ice track,” said Rangeon, who also a strong third at last week’s race. “It works for me.”

In Ice Cross Downhill, four athletes at a time race down an obstacle-filed ice t rack of several hundred meters in length and the two fastest advance to the next round. A field of more than 100 is gradually whittled down to a final four.

Results men: 1. Jim De Paoli (SUI), 2. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 3. Cameron Naasz (USA), 4. Kyle Croxall (CAN), 5. Scott Croxall (CAN), 6. Mark Taru (EST), 7. Paavo Klintrup (FIN), 8. Shayne Renaud (CAN), 9. Tristan Dugerdil (FRA), 10. Mirko Lahti (FIN).

Results women: Sandrine Rangeon (FRA), 2. Camilla Ojapalo (FIN), 3. Katrina Buesch (GER), 4. Miisa Klemola  (FIN), 5. Kati Koskelin (FIN)

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