VALKENBURG, Netherlands, Feb. 5 /CNW/ - Arttu Pihlainen (FIN) skated to the third victory in his Red Bull Crashed Ice career in Valkenburg (NED) today, winning the second race of the 2011 world championship in convincing fashion. He had won one race in 2008 as well as one race in 2009, broke away from the pack in the talent-rich final to win top honors with twenty-two-year old Scott Croxall (Mississauga, ON) in second and his brother Kyle Croxall (Comox, BC), who had won the season opener in Munich, in third. Lukas Fiala (CZE) was fourth. The world's best ice cross downhill athletes put on a spectacular race in front of 25,000 spectators down a 385-meter long ice track. The third race in the world championship will take place on Feb. 26 in Moscow (RUS).

The 64 best racers from 23 nations battled it out for world championship points in four-man heats down the freezing cold, four-meter wide track that was filled with bumps, jumps and steep hairpin turns. "I've been waiting two years for this win," said Pihlainen. "You need speed, agility and good balance to get in front. I also had the luck I needed today." Defending champion Martin Niefnecker (GER) had another race to forget in Valkenburg, crashing into a wall at high speed in the round of 16 and getting eliminated.

Six-time speed skating Olympic medalist Rintje Ritsma (NED) was treated to a hero's welcome by the big home crowd in his first ice cross downhill race: "Even though I got knocked out in a preliminary round, I've fallen in love with this sport and believe ice cross downhill has what it takes to be in the winter Olympics."

Pihlainen (1800 points) moves just 100 points ahead of Kyle Croxall (1700) in the world championship at the midway point of the four-race season. The race in Valkenburg was the 18th in the history of the sport, which debuted in Stockholm (SWE) in 2001. Following races in Munich (GER) and Valkenburg (NED) this year, Moscow (RUS) will host a race on February 26 and Quebec City on March 19.

Making the Cut - Quebec City

Each stop will feature an elimination round for National and International athletes. In Quebec, the National Shoot Out, with Canadian athletes only, and an International Shoot Out, with international athletes only, will take place on March 17 and 18 respectively. The fastest 64 Canadian and 64 international athletes from each Shoot Out will advance to Friday night's Elimination Round, where they'll be seeded into brackets of four, with the fastest two skaters advancing to the Finals on Saturday, March 19. Saturday night is when the alchemy of fire on ice happens, as the bracket format will narrow the field down from the top 64 qualifiers to a final four in the men's division, and from the top 16 qualifiers to the final four in the women's division.

The World Championship final rankings will be determined based on the points accumulated over the four stops. The top four finishers in both the men's and women's categories will skate away with not only bragging rights, but also a share of the prize purse totalling $15,150 for both divisions.

Final Results: Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship (Valkenburg, Netherlands)

  1. Arttu Pihlainen (FIN)
  2. Scott Croxall (Mississauga, ON)
  3. Kyle Croxall (Comox, BC)

Full results are available at

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Josée Laperrière
Red Bull Canada

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