Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
Visually impaired Red Bull Crashed Ice star defies odds to race rivals at 80km/h.
Hurtling down sheet ice at speeds of 80km/h jostling for position against fellow skaters is no small feat.
The fact that Danny Hansen does so with severely limited vision makes his attempts to take on the world’s best in Red Bull Crashed Ice all the more impressive.
The Flying Dutchman has been visually impaired since a firework prank went horribly wrong at the age of 13 but, in the intervening years, he has refused to let it be a barrier to his dreams.
“It’s a challenge to see what I can achieve with the limitations that life throws up,” says the 24-year-old.
“That has always been my motivation. The reason that I still function in this society and can do what I want to do has to do with my adaptability.
“I have learned to look at the bigger picture and, by seeing things in a certain context, I know what the situation should look like for someone with good eyes. This skill has ensured that I have been able to do a great job in Crashed Ice and ice hockey.”
Hansen, now into his seventh season of racing, is no slouch on skates. He boasts two individual top-20 finishes and has three times ended up in the top 50 in the end-of-season rankings.
Growing up in Holland, he had always had a passion for ice hockey, which he refused to allow to change despite his life-changing accident 11 years ago.
At the time, he went blind instantly and was told he would never see again. His eye sight was restored to 50 percent vision and he was told he would never play ice hockey. Then, 18 months later it deteroriated dramatically, and his assumption was, “I can’t do Crashed Ice anymore”, yet he has proved himself and his doubters wrong.
Looking back on the accident, he says: “I had a chemical burn of my cornea. Because of this, I have irregular scar tissue across my cornea. Unfortunately, healing is not possible. In my left eye I see around two percent, and my right eye fluctuates between two and fifteen percent.”
Hansen knows he runs the risk every day of going blind but, despite the knowledge, says “this does not stop me from getting the most out of my life every day”.
The adrenalin junkie does not only look to the ice for his speed fix, Hansen is also a keen wakeboarder, skydiver and snowboarder. But he admits, “my biggest passion is Red Bull Crashed Ice”.
There, he says, “I always have the feeling that I can push my boundaries further, with or without limitation. I have learned that the only boundary that stands between me and my goal is myself.”