Croxall glides into gold finish

Third time really was the charm for Pte Kyle Croxall last month as he hoisted the championship trophy at Red Bull Crashed Ice. The past two seasons he finished in the silver spot.

“I knew after the first two wins of the season this was my year,” says the firefighter from CFB Comox.

Pte Croxall and his competitors had to battle their way to the bottom of an urban ice track built with massive drops, hairpin turns, big-air jumps, drop-offs, and gaps at speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour, all on skates.

After victories at St. Paul, Minnesota, and Valkenburg, The Netherlands, he faltered in the third race of the season finishing a distant 13th in Are, Sweden. The poor outing left the door open for defending champion Arttu Pihlainen of Finland and sibling Scott Croxall to claim this year’s top spot at the season finale in Quebec City.

Despite what was on the line, Pte Croxall went into the March 17 race cool headed. Among the boisterous crowd swarming the track at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac were a few familiar faces, which added to his confidence.

“My brother and I had about 50 friends and family come to watch us in the final race,” he says. “It was great having over 100,000 Canadians cheer us on every time they heard our name in the starting gates.”

After fairly uneventful qualifying runs, Pte Croxall found himself in the final heat against some common competitors – Pihlainen, brother Scott, and fellow Canadian Adam Horst. To guarantee the overall championship, he needed to secure at least second place in the run.

“I was the most relaxed in the final race,” he says. “You need to be a
bit nervous to get the adrenaline going, although at the same time it’s not good to be too nervous.”

Pte Croxall says the 584-metre track in Quebec City was the least difficult on the Crashed Ice circuit, alluding to its less-technical obstacles and gentler slope. However, this didn’t seem to do him any favours. The final run he found himself chasing Pihlainen and his brother. Picking up speed in the second half of the course, he managed to close the gap on Scott. Rounding one of the final turns, Scott couldn’t reduce his speed in time and rubbed along one of the side walls eventually loosing his footing. Only strides behind, Pte Croxall coasted to the finish unchallenged for second place, and taking the overall championship.

“I knew I had won the championships, so I was extremely happy and relieved at the same time,” he says describing the emotions at the finish line. “It was nice to get a win when I had finished second overall the last two years.”

Along with bragging rights and an impressive championship trophy, Pte Croxall received a three-year lease on a Mini for taking the title.

Although he’s finally reached the pinnacle of ice cross downhill, he says he’s not going to change his mindset for next year. He’ll be spending much of the summer training in the gym and he’ll also compete in the Pacific Region FireFit Challenge May 26-27 in Aldergrove, B.C. The competition gathers firefighters from across the province, and eventually the country, to compete in a variety of events simulating emergency situations such as a stair climb, a hose hoist, a forcible entry, a run, a hose advance, and a victim rescue.


Story by: Ben Green, Staff Writer

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