Downhill skating race provides extreme rush

While it is not yet proven that Red Bull gives you wings, the company that produces high energy drinks has made one Calgarian feel like he’s flying.

Jake Plant will be taking part in the international Red Bull Crashed Ice competition starting on Nov. 30 in Niagara Falls, Ont. This will be Plant’s second year taking part in the extreme ice-cross event.

The Crashed Ice event can be compared to ski cross. The event hosts athletes from all over the world who skate down an ice track in heats of four, and the person at the end with the best time is crowned the winner.

“I saw it on TV and always wanted to give it a try,” said Plant. “And when I was given the opportunity to tryout in Calgary I just got more confident.”

Plant, 19, said that he was ecstatic to finish in the top 100 in last year’s competition and was more motivated this year when he finished with the top time in Calgary tryouts.

Jake Plant speeds down the ice at last year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice competition. Plant is geared up to participate in this year’s Crashed Ice.

Photo courtesy of Jake Plant

In time trials, Plant beat out about 200 other athletes fighting for a top five qualifying position with a time of 22.6 seconds.

Plant is taking part in Crashed Ice on top of his studies as a second-year engineering student at the University of Calgary. He said that he competes in the event because it provides him with a challenge.

“It’s all about going fast and pushing your limits. You wouldn’t be able to hit the speeds we do just skating on flat ice. It’s all about the competition and adrenaline rush.”

While flying down the steep drops and sharp turns, athletes hit speeds that can reach over 50 km/h.

While high speeds are involved, there are rules to prevent serious injury.

“It’s not really physical. People are battling for body position, but you’re not really allowed to potentially lay the body or push,” said Plant.

Training hard

Plant is a very well-rounded athlete. He used to be a competitive hockey player, is currently playing rugby and enjoys other sports such as skiing and mountain biking.

Currently, Plant is training hard in the gym to prepare for Crashed Ice.

“For training I play intramural hockey, but most of it takes place in the gym working your legs, stability, balance and quick feet,” he said.

“There’s nowhere you can find a course to just skate down. You’re really just training with hockey and building up confidence at high speeds and building stability in the legs for being in athletic position the whole time.”

Jake Plant launches down the track in last year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice. Plant has been training hard to take part in this year’s competition.

Photo courtesy of Jake Plant

Plant also pointed out that training is completely self-motivated.

“It’s all individual training for me. I take stuff I have learned from previous coaches in hockey and apply it to training,” he said.

“If you want to do well and are hoping to make Niagara, you just have to put in the time and set your eyes on making it.”

Amazing experience

Plant doesn’t have to pay a penny out of pocket to participate in Crashed Ice. He said that Red Bull sponsors all of his accommodations.

“Red Bull does such a good job of making you feel like a sponsored athlete and a pro. They treat you like such a VIP during the event,” he said.

While all flights and hotel are covered, Plant said that Red Bull also provides the athletes with a great overall experience.

“I’ve never been treated like I have with them. You go around town and you’re recognized as a professional athlete. People come a talk to you because they know you are a part of Crashed Ice,” he said.

Plant added that the best part of the whole event is the atmosphere at the races.

“I know last year at the races there were 110,000 people watching on the course.
It is just amazing,” he said.

“It takes place at night so the whole city is lit up. All of the fans are cheering and banging on the boards. There’s nothing like it.”

Plant said that no matter how he finishes in this year’s competition, he’s going to take part in the extreme ice-cross competition as long as he can.

curbani@cjournal.ca