Crashed Ice finals bring massive crowds to Edmonton's river valley
People sent away from Shaw Conference Centre as spectators packed event
Edmonton's river valley was host to around 70,000 people Saturday night, as curious crowds descended on the area for the Red Bull Crashed Ice finals.
This year marked the first time the downhill skating event was held in Edmonton. While warm weather did cause some trouble for organizers, forcing some races to be delayed, it didn't stop people from coming down to watch the final night of the event.
So many people came, in fact, that the Shaw Conference Centre was packed to the brim, turning away people who were looking for a good vantage point of the race.
Angela Huskins, who is visiting family in Edmonton, was one of the many among the crowd. She said she wasn’t surprised by how many people wanted to watch the event.
“We came down and brought the kids, and it's unbelievable,” she said.
“What an experience. Highlight of the week.”
The number of people lining the race course didn’t go unnoticed by Scott Croxall. The Toronto skater credits the crowd with helping him finish in second place during the final race, behind American Cameron Naasz, which was enough for him to become the sport’s 2015 world champion.
“You could hear them screaming and yelling, arms over the boards. It was intense, it helped me get pumped up,” Croxall said after the race.
“It was a crazy season, eight races. I couldn’t be happier.”
He said he will now take some time off to recuperate after a gruelling season.
“I’ve got a target on my back, I know that. So I’m going to have to prepare for next season.”
Croxall’s brother, Calgary racer Kyle Croxall, was eliminated from the tournament in an earlier race Saturday.
Finland’s Salla Kyhala, who beat out three Canadian racers to win the women’s finals, said she was impressed by the organization of the tournament and how many people came out to watch the last day or racing.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of people to cheer us on. It was amazing,” she said.
Live broadcasts of the races, including one in Churchill Square, also drew large crowds Saturday night. The event was also streamed online.