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'Crazy' Croxall brothers could give Canada 1-2 finish on Crashed Ice tour

Scott Croxall is back in Edmonton looking to repeat as ice cross downhill world champion three years after capturing his first title in the city. The Canadian will attempt to hold off longtime rival Cameron Naasz and his brother Kyle on Saturday (, 10 p.m. ET).

Scott aims for 2nd world title, Kyle 2nd place at season's final race in Edmonton

Canada’s Croxall brothers Kyle, left, and Scott, right, are looking to rule the field at the Red Bull Crashed Ice season finale this weekend in Edmonton. Scott has a chance to win his second world title in four years on home soil while Kyle could finish the season as high as second place. (Canadian Press/Getty Images/CBC Sports/File)

Scott Croxall remembers it being a "huge weight" off his shoulders.

The first and only time the Red Bull Crashed Ice tour made a stop in Edmonton three years ago, the native of Port Credit, Ont., finished second to longtime rival Cameron Naasz but earned enough points at the season-ending race to capture his first ice cross downhill world championship.

"It was always my goal to win a world championship, especially after seeing [my brother] Kyle win [in 2012]," says Scott, in his 10th season competing in the sport that combines hockey, boardercross and downhill skiing. "It was amazing and I want to get that feeling again."

Edmonton, which drew a crowd of about 70,000 in 2015, will again serve as the final stop of this season on Friday and Saturday after it was left off the tour schedule the past two years. And Scott, again, is in position to capture a world title as another top-two finish in Alberta would secure a second championship on home soil.

Ice cross downhill is fast, dangerous and tactical. But how do you win? 2:53

With 2,745 points entering this weekend, the 27-year-old is 245 points ahead of his closest competitor Naasz (2,500) while Austria's Marco Dallago (2,390) is third. Kyle sits fourth and could only climb as high as second should he earn the 1,000 points for winning in Edmonton. He jumped from sixth spot last Saturday after beating Naasz at a Riders Cup race in La Sarre, Que., while Scott placed seventh.

World championship scenarios

Scott Croxall wins title if he:

  • Wins the race
  • Finishes 2nd in front of Naasz
  • Finishes 3rd in front of Naasz and Dallago doesn't win
  • Finishes 4th or lower and Naasz doesn't finish top 3 and Dallago doesn't win

Naasz wins title if he:

  • Wins race
  • Finishes 2nd in front of Scott Croxall
  • ​Finishes 3rd in front of Croxall and Dallago doesn't win

Dallago wins title if he:

  • Wins race and Croxall and Naasz finish 3rd or lower
Ice Cross Downhill one of the fastest and most exciting sports around. Rob Pizzo breaks down 5 things you need to know while watching racers fly down a sheet of ice on skates. 1:38

"We're better skaters than Naasz and I think he knows that," Scott said of his and Kyle's extensive hockey-playing background. "Everyone has different strengths, but our skating is probably the best in the sport and we try to use that to our advantage."

Scott is also hoping a switch this season from Bauer to TRUE Pro Custom Skates, used by some NHL players and his brother, will help him gain an edge in the starting gate and on the track in Edmonton.

After prevailing in Helsinki in that 2015 season to halt a record-breaking 13-race losing streak, he went on to top the field in Belfast to move to within reach of a world championship.

"Maturing in the start gate," Scott, the co-owner of clothing brand TEAMLTD, said when asked what led to his successful 2015 campaign. "I think I just tweaked my start gate position a little which helped me get in front in the final races and not have to deal with passing [my opponents] or catching the leader."

It'll be awesome, fast. ... one of the best tracks of the season.— 2015 ice cross downhill world champion Scott Croxall on racing in Edmonton

Since his world title, Scott twice has finished second in the world rankings while Naasz became the first man in the history of the sport last season to win back-to-back world championships. However, Scott is confident he's gaining ground on the Minnesota native, citing the experience he has gained in tricky race situations and in final heats.

The event site and track in Edmonton features a new design, several challenging obstacles designed to knock riders off their skates and a narrow and winding stretch of track that will make it difficult to pass.

The signature feature of the 445-metre (1,493-foot) course with a 40-metre (131-foot) vertical drop is the Canadian Big Air, a section of track after skaters launch from the start gate. This is where organizers believe Tory Merz's 2016 world record in Munich for the longest jump on skates at 27m, or 89 feet, could be shattered.

"It'll be awesome, fast and there will be a big start gate," Scott says. "It's going to be one of the best tracks of the season."

Meanwhile, Kyle entered this season eyeing more consistent performances after his previous seven finishes on the Crashed Ice tour ranged from third to 27th. The 27th-place showing occurred at the 2016-17 season finale in Ottawa, where Kyle hit a few bad patches in the ice, busting open both elbows.

"Every course is different and you can have just one slip-up at one race and be down in points," says Kyle, who was second in the men's world championship rankings in 2010, 2011 and 2013. "There's some luck involved but you also have to be consistent."

Kyle finished third in Finland on Feb. 2 and two weeks later was seventh in Marseille, France.

At 209 pounds, the muscular 29-year-old is one of the heaviest racers on the circuit, but understands getting too bulked up could jeopardize his speed and maneuverability on the track.

'People are training harder'

This past off-season, Kyle opted for more sport-oriented training over heavy weight training. He was in the gym most days using lighter weights, doing dryland (off-ice) workouts, training on roller blades with Scott at an indoor bike park and skating on a treadmill once a week.

"I trained a lot harder this off-season than in the past," Kyle, a former Junior A hockey player, says. "People are training harder and there are a lot of younger and quicker guys getting involved in the sport.

CBC Sports sat down with Canadian ice cross downhill competitors Kyle and Scott Croxall to play a little game called "most likely to" 0:59

"It used to be the top 10 were the best in the sport and now that's top 32. It's a lot more competitive."

Kyle got involved in ice cross downhill a year before his brother while attending firefighting school in Ottawa, where Crashed Ice tryouts were being held in 2007. He competed in his first race in 2008, placing 20th, and first reached the podium in 2009 with a third-place finish in Quebec City.

'Learning curve'

"When we [first] got into it, it was time trials on an obstacle course on a rink," says Kyle. "Now you have to get into the sport by doing Riders Cup races," which are contested on less challenging tracks.

"In your first year or two, you use different courses and have no idea what's happening. You do a couple of training runs and you're reaching insanely high speeds just trying to stay on your skates. It's a learning curve for sure."

While the Croxalls have been told by many fans they're "crazy" for being involved in such a rough and tumble sport, the five-foot-11, 180-pound Scott isn't ruling out competing for several more years.

"I think pushing the limits and challenging ourselves brings us back," he says.

About the Author

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc


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