The Ice Cross Downhill World Championship in Quebec on Saturday was the most dramatic in the history of the sport. In front of an audience of over 100,000, Canada's Kyle Croxall looked set to finish in third place, well behind his brother Scott in second, and 2011 World Champion Arttu Pihlainen of Finland appeared to be on the verge of upsetting Canada's 2012 dominance of the sport, taking first place finish in this final round of the season.
That is, until a last-minute crash by Scott gave Kyle the opportunity to sprint ahead into second place and become the winner of the Red Bull Crashed Ice 2012 World Championship. Pihlainen, although winning the race in Quebec, placed second overall, with Scott Croxall in third.
Canada's Fannie Desforges was the winner of the women's race, and MINI was proud to announce another Canadian, Ross Thompson as best newcomer (in a competition field of over 10,000 entrants) and the winner of the MINI Rookie award.
That's all from us for now; scroll down the page to relive the highlights from the Red Bull Crashed Ice 2012 World Championship. And we'll see you in 2013, in what promises to be the biggest Crashed Ice tournament yet!
UPDATE: FEB. 16-18
The 3rd round of the Red Bull Crashed Ice 2012 World Championship lived up to its name last weekend with plenty of turbulence on the ice. With heavy snow on the 420 meter track, control became the most valued skill for the racers.
Red Bull Crashed Ice made its world debut in Stockholm in 2001, and its return to Sweden in the city of Åre brought out plenty of familiar enthusiasm by the crowd that rallied in this small Scandinavian ski town.
With a challenging track already filled with obstacles like jumps, bridges and two hairpin turns, the additional layer of sticky snow on the ice proved that the wiles of mother nature can sometimes be the biggest factor to struggle against. Racers smacked into both the wall and each other, managing sometimes to clamor past their rivals on their knees. In an upset, Kyle Croxall of Canada, winner of the first two rounds of of the 2012 World Championship Series, became the most noted victim to the difficult conditions, crashing into a wall after a pile up and failing to make it out of the Quarter Finals.
After leaving it all on the track, firefighter Adam Horst of Canada took the top spot for the first time in his career, with 2011 World Champion Arttu Pihlainen of Finland taking 2nd. Scott Croxall took the podium for the second time this year, placing 3rd.
The MINI Rookie Award went to Norwegian Inge Stokvik, giving his debut season reason to celebrate as one of the acknowledged up-and-comers.
1st place winner Adam Horst's first race was in Quebec in 2008, and he'll have the opportunity to prove himself amongst the top in the sport again on March 17, as the 2012 World Championship Series wraps up with its final race in Quebec City. Check back with MINI Space for all your Red Bull Crashed Ice coverage.
UPDATE: FEB. 2-4 Valkenburg, Netherlands
Round two of the World Championship Series of Crashed Ice went down this past weekend in the usually quiet little town of Valkenburg, in the southeastern Netherlands. Stirring things up were 64 ice cross downhill athletes and a roaring crowd of 25,000 fans.
The latest track and group of hungry contenders provided plenty to cheer about. At 575 meters, the Valkenburg course was the longest ever in ice cross downhill. Add to that impressive stat a 70 degree seven-meter drop right out of the starting gate, a 180 degree horseshoe turn, and a slew of obstacles like bridge drops, step up bumps, stairs and Dutch mountains (naturally), and you can imagine the kind of challenge the racers had in front of them.
Despite poor performances in first-round heats due to a shoulder injury after smashing into a wall, Kyle Croxall of Canada, winner of the season-opener of Crashed Ice, coasted to a clear second-consecutive victory in the final round. 2011's World Champion, Arttu Pihlainen of Findland, barely lost his spot in the final found after a photo-finish upset in the semi-final.
Left to right: Paavo Klintrup, Kyle Croxall, Fabian Mels
Some budding stars on the ice cross downhill scene took up the 2nd and 3rd place spots on the podium. Fabian Mels of Germany took a clean 2nd place, even after a crash near the beginning of the race. Paavo Klintrup — Finnish compatriot of Arttu — skated into 3rd. Despite a phenomenal start out of the gates, Scott Croxall finished for the second time in 4th.
Roby Haazen, MINI Rookie Award Winner for Valkenburg 2012
With Holland's long and successful history of speed skating, it comes as no surprise that Dutchman Roby Haazen steals away with the MINI Rookie Award for this round of Red Bull Crashed Ice.
Stay tuned here on MINI Space for all the 2012 coverage of Red Bull Crashed Ice. The next competition is already this February 17-18, moving north to Are, Sweden.
UPDATE: Jan. 13-14. 2012 St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
Red Bull Crashed Ice is back for another exciting season, and MINI is once again there for all the action as the race series' official vehicle. It kicked off its North American debut with the 2012 World Championship season opener, held January 13th and 14th in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Despite bitter -14° C / 7° F temperatures, some 80,000 fans turned out to see the action. With the illuminated St. Paul Cathedral as a backdrop, the world's best in ice cross downhill faced a 400-meter-long track that's said to be the single most technically challenging course in the history of the series.
Red Bull Crashed Ice. St. Paul, USA
In a controversial final round, Canadian Kyle Croxall clamoured past a pile-up that occured part way into the race that included the 2011 World Champion, Arttu Pihlainen of Finland, and Kyle's own brother, Scott Croxall. After jumps, moguls, and downhill sprints, and a diving photo-finish for 2nd, Kyle finished on top with Arttu following and Scott placing 3rd.
Cameron Naasz takes The MINI Rookie Award
MINI had a special spot on the podium with The MINI Rookie Award. The United States had the largest number of rookies competing this year with 18. There were also three Russians, two from Sweden and one from Japan. Out-performing them all though was Cameron Naasz, a Minnesota native who couldn't have been happier to skate away with honors in his home state. He'll be riding this MINI momentum throughout the rest of the season.
Things are just getting started for these ice fiends. You can find all the action right here.
MINI is the official vehicle of Crashed Ice, setting out to support young athletic talent this year. Things are already in full swing with the partnership between MINI — with voting having begun on Facebook for the Creative Use of Space Award — and in another big step, young men summoning the courage and nerves of steel to compete in the world of ice-cross downhill can vie for a new title during the Crashed Ice series: The MINI Rookie Award.
Get our full report on the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships and see more photos from each tour stop below:
Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship Final in Quebec
In the end it was a fit and fearless physical-education teacher from Finland who brought the best performance of the year to the ice in Quebec.
29-year-old Arttu Pihlainen took top honors in the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship Final Saturday - in front of 110,000 Canadians making noise for a pair of their countrymen hot on his heels.
Arttu Pihlainen takes the Keys to His MINI Countryman
In addition to the World Championship Trophy and the ovations of more than a hundred-thousand people - the newly-crowned champ took home a brand new MINI Countryman.
Philippe Poirier Took Home the Last MINI Golden Helmet of the Season
Although top honors were taken by a Finlander, it was a local hero - Canadian Philippe Poirier - who took home the MINI Golden Helmet Rookie Award honors.
This year's series of Red Bull Crashed Ice Events were a resounding success - Saturday's event in Quebec being no exception - and saw athletes from 23 countries taking part during the tour's four races. Read on below for more info on the partnership between MINI and Red Bull, about the races we've covered in Germany, Netherlands and Russia, and to check out our film wrapping-up this year's Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship.
February 26, 2011 On Saturday, it was Moscow's turn to host the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships. Athletes from 24 different nations braved frighteningly cold temperatures of -22 degrees celsius to compete on the 350 meter long track in Moscow's Kolomenskoye Park, which is located near the former summer palace of a Russian Czar.
Arttu Pihlainen (FIN) performs during the final run of the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship
Finland's Arttu Pihlainen beat Kyle Croxall to take the number one spot for a second time in a row. He's now 300 points ahead of his rival, Croxall. "It's so cold that it literally takes your breath away. What a race!", said Pihlainen after winning. This is now his fourth career victory.
Bart van Roosmalen (NED), Sacha Stoefelmayer (AUT) and Andrey Ibatov (RUS) crash during the finals.
Pavel Kryukov, the local hero, did his homeland proud by picking up the Golden Helmet as the winner of the MINI Rookie Award. His fellow countryman, Andrey Lavrov managed to finish in 8th place.
February 5, 2011 Last weekend, the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships made its second stop of the season in this countryside town whose epic name means "falcon castle" in Dutch. Boasting a 1450 m long hill with a grade of 12%, this locale made a fearsome competition ground for the world's bravest speed skaters.
Croatian Starjacki Hrvoje may not have taken the top spot on the podium, but he still took the spotlight - and the Golden Helmet - as the winner of this event's MINI Rookie Award in his debut appearance. We got the impression he's just started his rise to the top: "It's the most amazing thing" he said, "It is the best sport I've tried but I can improve on that performance. I want to go further and further."
Finnish skater Arttu Pihlainen came in first place with a finish besting Munich's champion - Kyle Croxall - by 100 points.
Munich, Germany January 15, 2011 It's on this field of battle that new champions are being born. Last Saturday, January 15th, the curtain was raised on the 2011 Red Bull Crashed Ice Championship, and your MINI Space Team was there.
On a mission to sponsor creativity and courage, MINI will present the "Golden Helmet" at each of the tour's four stops. Last Saturday it was Fabian Mels of Germany who took the prize from a field of some 21 novices. The overall winner was Canada's Kyle Croxall.
We're talking about 350 cubic meters of ice that has to be kept in pristine condition for racers travelling at speeds in excess of 70km per hour. That, and the fact that it took a crew of 140 people nearly two weeks to build it make for an impressive architectural and technical feat.
Take it from the trackmaster, AKA "Mr. Freeze" Martin Weirather: "In 2011 we spread cooling mats over 2,000 square meters. The integrated tubes were filled with cooling liquids to guarantee a constant temperature of -10 degrees Celsius. Then we carefully built up the layers of ice on top of it. That's the only way to ensure the surface remains smooth even if we're covering a hill, a steep curve or the starting ramp"
In the words of "Jojo Poelzl", construction supervisor: "When you have people racing down here at up to 70 km/h you've got to put safety first."
When all the ice had been appropriately thrashed, one could sense a real sense of camaraderie amongst the racers. They hugged and congratulated one another in earnest, truly seeming to enjoy the thrill of the competition and bond created by facing the same intense challenge.