This year, Crashed Ice was at its biggest and best, the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship featuring five different locations and some of the top skaters from across the globe. There were team competitions, and more women participating than ever, and it even pushed the boundaries in terms of indoor tracks and corkscrew delights.
We’ve been watching the winter sport since 2010, after discovering that Red Bull TV showed each round live for free. Each year it has been getting better and better, until this point where I am really sad it’s over and already anticipating 2014!
Here are my top five reasons that Crashed Ice is awesome:
It’s unpredictable. The best thing about Crashed Ice is that each race is a free-for-all. There are some skaters who are better than others, of course, and some who dominate a lot of the competition. But all it takes is one slip, one mis-timed jump, one tangle with another competitor, and the entire race can be turned on its head. Despite only being about a minute long, each descent down the track can see the lead change hands several times, can see tumbles and recoveries, and a lot of the events feature photo finishes. At other times, there can be one or two skaters out front, looking over their shoulder and taking it easy to the finish. You never quite know what is going to happen, and that makes it always very exciting.
It’s nice. All the competitors seem to be having a good time. Occasionally, there are disappointed faces at the end, and a few stomp off in a huff if things haven’t gone their way, but overall, all the skaters are nice to each other and happy when each other does well. Crashed Ice is one of those individual sports, where you only have yourself to blame if things don’t go to plan. Occasionally a skater is taken out by another, but it’s almost always an accident. There have only been one or two occasions over the past four years I can recall any stewards getting involved.
It’s developing. The sport has been going for many years, still relatively new, but older than the title battle we currently watch. Since the World Championship has begun, it’s started gradually getting bigger, pushing the boundaries, trying out new things. This year alone, we saw an indoor track (granted, no one really liked it, and it was the weakest of the events), a corkscrew style turn, plus a bonus event where some skaters could try doing the course backwards in an attempt to win a place in the finals at the next location. It’s great to see a sport changing and developing, trying to see what works and ditching things when they don’t. It makes me feel like I am part of the adventure.
It’s short. Each race is maybe a minute long, and the action can be fast and furious. Each event is maybe two hours long, which isn’t short, but it depends on your level of engagement. If you just want to tune in for the round of 32, then you’re talking maybe an hour or so of investment for great reward. Equally, the season is short too. Purely based across the winter months, Crashed Ice was at its longest this year with five events. They were stretched out across several months, with an oddly placed gap after the first round. No matter, it’s a far shorter time hog than other season-long events (football and F1 to name two).
It’s accessible. I know that Crashed Ice is blacked out in the US sometimes, because it is playing on TV and that sucks. But, those network negotiations aside, the sport is really very accessible to anyone who wants to watch. Red Bull TV stream the action live on their various players - on the web, via mobile devices, even on the apps they have on some smart TV screens. Free, easy to watch, incredible sporting action. What more could I ask for?