Ice-Cold German Wins in Front of 50,000 Fans
Munich’s Olympic Park was packed to the rafters on Saturday night as the first stop of the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship 2010 came to town. A total of sixty-four athletes representing 20 nations plunged down a 400-metre course dotted with jumps, rollers and chicanes in full ice hockey gear. Germany’s Martin Niefnecker (GER) secured a sensational victory in front of 50,000 fans despite temperatures well below freezing.
MUNICH (GER). Strength, balance and a healthy portion of adrenaline were the order of the day as Martin Niefnecker (1st/GER), Gabriel Andre (2nd/CAN) and Martin Müller (3rd/SUI) triumphed on the steepest artificial ice rink in the world and ran rings around the favourites from Scandinavia at the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship in Munich.
The city’s Olympic Park, host of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, was transformed into a winter sports Mecca with the help of 390 m³ of artificial ice. A gradient of up to 30%, jumps, four rollers and speeds reaching 50 km/h guaranteed a spectacular night of thrills and spills. “I’ve had more bruises in the last two days than in the course of my entire ice hockey career,” laughed the victorious 19 year-old from Garmisch-Partenkirchen after securing victory in the Final of the four-man battle, adding: “But it was worth it!”
However, dozens of competitors saw their hopes of victory agonisingly slip away as they hurtled into the crash barriers lining the course. Even Double Crashed Ice champion Arttu Pihlainen (FIN) had to settle for ninth place after being knocked out at the quarter-final stage. Favourite ahead of the event Jasper Felder (SWE) was forced to withdraw due to an injury sustained in training.
The second of the two-leg World Championship will take place on 20 March 2010 in Quebec (CAN).
Former Olympic slalom champion Finn Christian Jagge (NOR), who was unable to qualify on Friday for Saturday night’s main event, was nevertheless thrilled by his first foray into the world of ice cross downhill: “This is the future of sports events, - no doubt at all!”
Result Red Bull Crashed Ice WC 2010 / Munich / Germany:
1. Martin Niefnecker (GER), 2. Gabriel Andre (CAN), 3. Kim Müller (SUI), 4. Michael Urban (CZE), 5. Lari Joutsenlahti (FIN), 6. Lukas Kolc (CZE), 7. Kilian Braun (SUI), 8. Paavo Klintrup (FIN), 9. Arttu Pihlainen (FIN), 10. Andreas Rüegge (SUI).
* Since the world premier in Stockholm in 2000 there have been a total of 14 races in eight countries.
* The Red Bull Crashed Ice is generally held on synthetic ice, four races (Klagenfurt 2001, Duluth/Minnesota 2003, 2004, Moscow 2004) were conducted on natural ice.
*The sport was invented in 1999 by Austrians Sigurd Meiche and Stefan Aufschnaiter.