Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
Fisher reveals tricks of the trade ahead of Red Bull Crashed Ice finale
Canadian robotics engineer explains how skaters get edge for title showdown.
John Fisher may not have a chance of winning the Red Bull Crashed Ice title this weekend on home ice in Edmonton, however the Canadian has done more than most to help revolutionise the booming sport.
Ice cross downhill skating has come a long way since the first Stockholm single race in 2001 and maiden World Championship points season in 2010.
Fisher first competed in 2011 and changed the way many athletes trained for the sport in 2014 by introducing specialised inline training at Joyride 150 indoor bike park in Markham, Ontario.
In 2015 he added The Skating Lab in Burlington (a specialised ice skating treadmill) to his training schedule with fellow athletes drawing on his engineering excellence to improve their own title chances.
With Scott Croxall, reigning champion Cameron Naasz and Marco Dallago battling it out for the men’s title and Amanda Trunzo looking to upset reigning women’s champion Jacqueline Legere, this weekend should prove a rollercoaster end to another exciting season.
Here is what the 27-year-old had to say about his journey and the sport in general:
How do you share your time between engineering and your Red Bull Crashed Ice training?
It’s been a challenge to balance work life and training as work can be anywhere from 40-70 hours per week. In the past I have always tried to do morning workouts on weekdays and fill up the weekends with workouts too. I am very lucky that my work is about 15 minutes from my main technical skill training area at Joyride 150. My employer is also encouraging and supports my hobbies, which is great. My engineering background is helping me currently develop new training tools such as a replication of a start gate and timing system, which will assist me in improving my starts.
Was the specialised ice skating treadmill something you developed with your engineering background?
It’s a synthetic ice surface on a loop that allows athletes to protect their stride and train in a comfortable warm environment. There are also cameras mounted to the side and back which are on a 40-second delay so, when we come off the treadmill, we can review the last session and improve on the next run. These treadmills are becoming a new training tool to many athletes and can be tilted up and down to mimic a specific Red Bull Crashed Ice track.
Where else are your technical skills beneficial to your sport activity?
My sporting background is downhill skiing and mountain biking, and both these sports relate directly to Red Bull Crashed Ice in so many ways. My ice hockey background is lacking quite a bit and I have to work on my skating ability. Skiing and cycling provide me with great endurance on the longer tracks and a sense of obstacle avoidance, high-speed reactions, air time off jumps and great line choice while taking corners. These skills are hard to acquire while playing only ice hockey. In recent years as the tracks move away from a skating focus there have been several new racers becoming dominant on the track like the French skiers Pacôme Schmitt and Tristan Dugerdil along with downhill mountain bikers like Derek Wedge and Steven Cox. In modern Red Bull Crashed Ice racing, you need a broad background in sports to be a top athlete.