Red Bull Crashed Ice 'ice cross' championship coming to Ottawa in 2017

The 2017 Red Bull Crashed Ice world championship is coming to downtown Ottawa in March 2017, part of the capital's celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.

Downhill track will encompass area around Rideau Canal, Château Laurier, Major's Hill Park

Competitors at a Red Bull Crashed Ice event in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. The ice cross championship is coming to Ottawa in March 2017. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Aaron Lavinsky)

The 2017 Red Bull Crashed Ice world championship is coming to downtown Ottawa.

Ottawa 2017, the group coordinating events in the city for Canada's 150th birthday, announced the championship will take place near the Rideau Canal locks, Château Laurier and Major's Hill Park in March 2017.

It will be the first time the race, which features heats of four skaters clad in protective equipment careening down an ice course of steep declines, jumps and turns, has been held in Ottawa.

The event's sports director said they don't have a final track design yet, but it will incorporate its scenic surroundings.

"To create a good track is to get the flow out of the natural land, [we're] always looking to give a soul to the track by riding the natural environment," said Chris Papillon.

"It means here, for example, riding the grass area [around] the locks in this nice valley surrounding the Canal, altogether we'll create a tremendous track in Ottawa."

Papillon said they'll balance working with the Rideau Canal with protecting it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have Parks Canada as a partner as they plan.

'Modern, edgy and appealing'

Organizers said the event will be free for people to watch. It will cap off a season of ice cross races, culminating in the crowning of the men's and women's ice cross downhill champions.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said it's going to cost Ottawa 2017 and partners including CIBC about $1.5 million to put on the event, but it's expected to bring in at least $10 million in economic activity.

"I think you're going to see the downtown packed like you've never seen before," he said.

Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme said he's been trying to bring Crashed Ice to Ottawa for eight years.

"This will show a modern, edgy and appealing image for youth [toward] this heritage site," he said.

The news release said the exact date for the Ottawa event will be announced in the fall with the rest of the 2016-17 Crashed Ice schedule.

It joins the trials for the 2018 Olympics and the Canadian Track and Field Championships as confirmed sporting events in Ottawa in 2017, with Watson continuing to push for the Grey Cup and an NHL outdoor game.