The world’s fastest sport returns Saturday on CBCSports.ca when Red Bull Crashed Ice kicks off the 19th season of ice cross downhill in Yokohoma, Japan, at 5 a.m. ET.
The event will mark the sport’s Asia debut, making it the third continent to host a Crashed Ice world championship race.
Last season, Canada’s Scott Croxall clinched the world title with a fourth-place finish at the final in Edmonton. The key race occurred in the semifinal, where Croxall took out American contender Cameron Naasz and secured his first-place finish.
“It was always my goal to win a world championship, especially after seeing [my brother] Kyle win [in 2012],” said Croxall prior to his first tour victory during his 10th season.
Kyle combined with Scott to eliminate Naasz in Edmonton. He also represents one of the fiercest challengers to the Crashed Ice throne currently occupied by Scott.
VIDEO | Check out the Red Bull Crashed Ice Yokohama 2018 track
Kyle hasn’t won the world title since 2012, a victory that was sandwiched in between second-place finishes in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
While the Port Credit., Ont., brothers have lived atop Canadian Crashed Ice standings for the entire decade, they’ve been met with tough international competition the entire time.
That primarily includes Naasz, who prior to falling short last season had become the first man to win consecutive world titles in 2016 and 2017. The Minnesota native should be skating with a chip on his shoulder in 2019 after being knocked off his perch by Croxall.
“We’re better skaters than Naasz and I think he knows that,” said Scott of he and Kyle. “Everyone has different strengths, but our skating is probably the best in the sport and we try to use that to our advantage.”
Other men’s contenders include 2018 third-place finisher Marco Dallago, his brother Luca, Switzerland’s Derek Wedge and reigning juniors champion Mirko Lahti of Finland. Lahti swept the junior circuit in 2018 while finishing eighth in the senior standings.
Japan’s Takeshi Yasutoko will be the lone home skater on Saturday. Yasutoko recently transitioned from inline skating to ice-cross downhill and made his tour debut last season.
Legere seeks redemption
On the women’s side, Canada’s Jacqueline Legere offers a similar story to Naasz.
The Brantford, Ont., native won the overall title in 2016 and 2017 before falling to American Amanda Trunzo last season, who dominated en route to 3,000 points — well ahead of Legere (2,250) and fellow Canadian Myriam Trepanier (1,660).
Legere crashed out in her first heat in Edmonton, ending any chance of overtaking Trunzo in the season’s final race.
Redemption will be on Legere’s mind when she laces up her skates in Yokohoma.
Finnish sisters Miisa and Marjut Klemola also linger as podium contenders.
The Crashed Ice season consists of nine events. Three are world championship events, including Saturday in Yokohoma plus later events in the U.S. and Finland. At each of these race, the winner receives 1,000 championship points.
There are also three ATSX 500 events, with 500 championship points at stake and three ATSX 250 events.
Championship points from all three levels of races are added at the end of the season to determine the overall winner.