Downhill skaters cheered by 75,000 fans as Red Bull Crashed Ice races through Old Quebec



    Over 75,000 fans line streets of Old Quebec to witness Kevin Olson of
    Lethbridge, AB, win Red Bull Crashed Ice, a combination of hockey,
    downhill skating and boardercross

    QUEBEC CITY, QC, March 3 /CNW/ - On the ridiculously steep yet charming
street Côte de la Montagne in Old Quebec, drivers wisely obey the 40 km/hr
speed limit. During tonight's Red Bull Crashed Ice, however, breaking those
limits was wildly celebrated by over 75,000 spectators, as racers from across
North America rocketed down at over 50 km/hr, with nothing but a pair of
skates and gravity driving their pace.
    A combination of hockey, boardercross, and downhill skiing, Red Bull
Crashed Ice presents a new playing field for amateur and semi-pro hockey
players around the world. Instead of a flat-surface rink, racers storm down a
500m ice-track that not only winds its way through an urban environment, but
delivers a series of hairpin turns, 45 degree vertical drops, and a liberal
dose of jumps, whoops, and ice stairs. Red Bull Crashed Ice is arguably the
fastest sport on skates, and is dictated by one simple rule: first to the
bottom wins.
    This year in its return to historic Old Quebec, Red Bull Crashed Ice was
won by Kevin Olson of Lethbridge, Alberta, who raced to victory over fellow
finalists Ross Thompson of Kamloops, BC, Ben Benicky of North Vancouver, and
last year's champion Gabriel Andre of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The final
four took home $5000, $3000, $1500 and $500 respectively. Olson earned the top
prize by qualifying first overall, and then utilizing his blazing speed and
fearless approach through each bracket.
    "Last year was a skater's track, this year's was a thinker's because of
the crazy verticals," said Olson. "Quebec is beautiful and it's unbelievable
competing here. The city and hospitality are second to none - definitely gives
you wings!"
    And what do his parents think? "They think it's cool and are really proud
of me. My dad was so happy when I called with the news. My mom thinks I'm
crazy."

    The Course
    Maximizing its historic surroundings, Red Bull Crashed Ice started at the
city's highest point and in the shadow of the Château Frontenac, offering
racers their first and last chance to soak in the view. At the sound of horn
they were storming down the rue du Fort, reaching speeds formerly exclusive to
the world's best speed skaters. A steep right turn soon presented the first
battle for positioning, and a serious test of skill and will. Continuing down
Côte de la Montagne, the track struck a sharp left at the infamous Escalier
Casse-Cou, otherwise known as "Breakneck Stairway". Before hitting the bottom
of the hill, skaters navigated a series of ice stairs and whoops into Place
Royale for the final dash and where, fittingly, scenes were filmed for the
Hollywood blockbuster Catch Me If You Can.
    If racing the course seems like a handful, its construction was
Herculean. The core building material for the Red Bull Crashed Ice track is,
of course, crashed ice. Specifically made for the event, 40 boxes (4ft x 4ft x
4ft, 1700 pounds each) of crashed ice were spread across the streets of Old
Quebec. To guarantee a nice and smooth ice surface, a cooling system featuring
seven chiller machines were utilized, helping produce the right temperature
throughout the build. Keeping the competitors on the ice and the fans in the
stands were 3,432 ft of polymer boards, 900 adjustable steel legs, and 2,574
huge wood screws.

    Race Format
    To determine a champion, consecutive heats of four skaters in a double
elimination bracket narrowed the field down from the top 64 qualifiers to a
final four. Among the competitors were Andre's fellow finalists last year,
Wade Hocking of Kelowna, BC, and Sylvain Houle of Ottawa, who raced to the
semi-final and round of 16, respectively. In total, 125 qualifiers from across
Canada and the United States, as well as a select group of invitees from
Europe, competed in Red Bull Crashed Ice.
    Canadian participants for Red Bull Crashed Ice were selected from 14
regional qualifiers consisting of individual speed trials on flat surface
indoor and outdoor rinks. All demonstrated speed, strength, and agility, with
individual hockey backgrounds ranging from ex-NHL players to garage league
superstars.

    About Red Bull Crashed Ice

    Quebec boasts a rich hockey and winter-sport history, making its capital
city a fitting return location for the eighth Red Bull Crashed Ice. Already,
thousands of people from around the world have witnessed the action-packed new
sport of ice-cross downhill, starting with its debut in Stockholm, Sweden
(2000), and moving to Klagenfurt, Austria (2001), Duluth, Minnesota, USA
(2003, 2004), Moscow, Russia (2004), Prague, Czech Republic (2005), and last
year's exciting Canadian debut in Quebec City.

    For more detailed event information or to view and download images and
video, please go to www.redbullcrashedice.ca.

    A video-news-release will be available via satellite downlink:
    Tuesday, March 6, 2007 (Refeed)
    1400-1415 EST
    1700-1715 EST
    ANIK F2C 3B ANALOG
    DOWNLINK FREQ.: 3820 (V)
    AUDIO: 6.2 & 6.8
    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: For media in Quebec City, please contact:
Marie-Claire D'Aoust, Gestev, (418) 650-5374, presse@gestev.com; For media in
Montreal, please contact: Marjorie Roux, MS&L, (514) 266-5547,
marjorie.roux@mslpr.com; For media outside of Quebec, please contact: Jessica
Kasparian, MS&L, (647) 688-0314, jessica.kasparian@mslpr.ca; Charlene McAnoy,
Red Bull Communications, (416) 348-0389 x224/(416) 843-4838,
charlene.mcanoy@ca.redbull.com


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