ANNIE SILVESTER/Bullet News
The National Shoot Out Qualifier was in full swing Thursday afternoon on the Red Bull Crashed Ice course, soaring from the base of the Skylon tower and winding its way to Queen Victoria Park.
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Sunny skies but strong winds had a large crowd gathered around the course for the day that the “pare down” happens as 120 men and 30 women that have qualified from around the country vie for a position for the championship competition on Saturday night.
J.D. Wheeler, Business Unit Director of Red Bull Canada, said Thursday’s winners must compete again on Friday against the international athletes.
“They’re all fighting for a spot to be one of 64 guys and 16 girls on Saturday night in the finals.”
Wheeler who has been involved in the sport for some time says he thinks the strong appeal for it comes from its hockey roots.
“It’s on the ice and obviously all the guys have a background in hockey … so to do something they’ve never done before, although they’ve all skated on hockey rinks their whole life, lakes and ponds, etc. on the flat ice, now all of a sudden they are able to be able to go on a course that’s five metres long that has 30 metre elevation from top to bottom with tabletops, step-ups and turn downs. All this terminology you hear in snowboarding and motocross and taking it to the ice.”
What makes the sport unique each time however is that each course has its own nuances and Wheeler has already got the buzz from the skaters about the Niagara Falls course.
“I’m already getting feedback from the athletes now that we’ve started some practice and qualifying runs which is that the course is the most technical they have seen so far. To compare it to Quebec’s, which is really top speed where they can just bomb down, here it’s a lot of turns and step ups and a lot of obstacles that make it really tricky and technical.”
The other aspect that makes the course unique and spectacular Wheeler adds is the Falls themselves.
“The course has a lot going for it and the big one is having the Falls as the backdrop. It’s amazing when we can do an event like that.”
For more information about all the free activities this weekend with Red Bull Crashed Ice www.redbull.ca.