With pack of challengers, Naasz faces rough ride defending Ice Cross Downhill title

Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Cameron Naasz of the United States, Pacome Schmitt of France, John Fisher of Canada and Scott Croxall of Canada compete during the third stage of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Jyväskylä-Laajis, Finland on January 30, 2016.
Cameron Naasz of the United States, Pacome Schmitt of France, John Fisher of Canada and Scott Croxall of Canada compete during the third stage of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Jyväskylä-Laajis, Finland on January 30, 2016.

The world’s fastest sport on skates kicks off its 17th season in Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria in December with a first Riders Cup race before the Red Bull Crashed Ice season moves to the Mediterranean in January. American titleholder Cameron Naasz faces a pack of former champions and challengers eager to prevent him from repeating.

SALZBURG, Austria – American Cameron Naasz will try to become the first Ice Cross Downhill racer to ever repeat as champion in the world’s fastest sport on skates, an increasingly popular winter sport in which four fearless skaters at a time race downhill on an icy obstacle course at speeds of up to 80 km/h. Naasz knows it’s been impossible for any of the previous champions to defend their title because the sport with athletes from 20 nations and five continents has become so competitive thanks to year-round training.
“I think the reason no one has ever been able to become back-to-back World Champion is simply because it is so hard to remain consistently on top for that long,” said Naasz of the sport that used to be dominated by Europeans from such winter sports countries as Austria, Finland and Germany but ruled by Canadians and Americans in recent years. “Being consistent for one race or one whole season is hard enough considering how competitive the sport has gotten over the last few years.”
Naasz knows he has his work cut out for him as the title race for the world’s fastest sport on skates is shaping up into a ferocious fight to the finish with a fistful of former champions and other talented racers working hard in the off-season to dethrone him.
But Canada’s Scott Croxall, the 2015 champion will be racing in front of his home fans at the season finale, which could be an important boost.

Cameron Naasz of the United States, Maxwell Dunne of the United States, Luca Dallago of Austria and Derek Wedge of Switzerland compete during the final stage of the ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States on February 27, 2016.
Cameron Naasz of the United States, Maxwell Dunne of the United States, Luca Dallago of Austria and Derek Wedge of Switzerland compete during the final stage of the ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States on February 27, 2016.

“I’m excited to have the final stop in Ottawa on Canadian ice – it’s always amazing to have friends and family there with the Canadian crowds cheering us on,” said Croxall, who said he is extremely pleased about his pre-season preparations. For the last two months he has been training with his brother Kyle Croxall on an indoor bike and skate track.
Also figuring in the title battle this season are Austria’s Marco Dallago, the 2014 champion, along with Tristan Dugerdil (France), Max Dunne (USA) and Dylan Moriarity (CAN), according to Red Bull Crashed Ice sporting director Christian Papillon. Canada’s Dean Moriarity (3rd last season), France’s Pacôme Schmitt (6th) and Austria’s Luca Dallago (5th) are also capable of winning races or getting on podiums.
Red Bull Crashed Ice season calendar: Jan. 13-14 – Marseille, France; Jan. 20-21 – Jyväskylä-Laajis, Finland; Feb 3-4 – Saint Paul, USA; March 3-4 – Ottawa, Canada.
Riders Cup calendar: Dec. 10 – Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria; Jan. 28 – Rautalampi, Finland; Feb. 4 – Moscow, Russia; Feb. 18 – La Sarre, Canada; Feb. 25 – Bathurst, Canada.

Derek Wedge of Switzerland, Pacome Schmitt of France, Danny Hansen of the Netherlands and Gwenael Van Aken of Belgium compete during the final stage of the ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States on February 27, 2016.
Derek Wedge of Switzerland, Pacome Schmitt of France, Danny Hansen of the Netherlands and Gwenael Van Aken of Belgium compete during the final stage of the ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States on February 27, 2016.
Kilian Braun of Switzerland, Michael Iulianello of the United States, Guillaume Bouvet-Morrissette of Canada and Jesse Sauren of Finland compete during the third stage of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Jyvaskyla-Laajis, Finland on January 30, 2016.
Kilian Braun of Switzerland, Michael Iulianello of the United States, Guillaume Bouvet-Morrissette of Canada and Jesse Sauren of Finland compete during the third stage of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship at the Red Bull Crashed Ice in Jyvaskyla-Laajis, Finland on January 30, 2016.

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