‘I’m going to try to leave all reasonable thinking...
Bookmark and Share
Feb 17, 2011  |  Vote 0    0

‘I’m going to try to leave all reasonable thinking behind’

Ottawa East News

Derek Miller is a self-described adrenaline junkie.

But even he doesn’t know what to expect when he competes in the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Quebec City next month.

The event is not for the faint of heart, as competitors line up on the peak of a 60-metre high hill and careen down a 500-plus-metre track of ice, following a twisting obstacle course and leaping over jumps with three-metre drops.

“It’s like extreme skiing downhill, but you’re on a sheet of ice and you’re on hockey skates,” said the 29-year-old Westboro man.

The sport traces its roots to Stockholm, Sweden, where athletes from across the world competed in the new event 11 years ago, dubbed ice cross downhill.

The sport is listed as non-contact, but with the athletes skating shoulder to shoulder collisions are more than occasional – hence the need for skaters to be decked out in full hockey equipment.

At the very least it’s an opportunity to knock another item off his bucket list, said Miller, who runs a power skating business, Next Generation HKY, and is an assistant coach of the Carleton University women’s hockey varsity team.

Just for a little added excitement, the March 17-19 competition will mark the first time Miller has ever skated downhill.

But he isn’t nervous.

“I’m going to try and leave all reasonable thinking behind,” Miller said. “(Thinking) might take a few seconds off my time.”

Miller won a spot to compete in the race by placing first with a time of 12.23 seconds in the men’s qualifier held at the Bell Sensplex on Feb. 1.

Miller, who lived in Kanata for several years before recently moving to Westboro, lucked into a spot at the Ottawa qualifier.

“I just happened to be at the rink and snuck my way in at the last minute,” he said. “I ended up winning it.”

The event uses a lottery system to select entries for the qualifying events held across Canada.

Unfortunately, Miller had failed to secure a spot in the event for the past three years.

Competition is fierce, as more than 11,000 daredevils registered for a chance to compete in the qualifiers held in rinks across Canada this year.

The day of the Ottawa qualifier, Miller was playing a game of pickup hockey at the Sensplex when he noticed organizers setting up a table across the rink.

An event organizer told him they were accepting 50 walk-on entries.

Miller quickly signed up.

Each skater was allowed to compete in two trials on a rink at the Sensplex, skating across an obstacle course on a flat ice surface.

“I was really excited, but I knew the chances of me ending up first or even in the top 10 were pretty slim.”

Miller finished first among the 250 entries with a time of 12.23 seconds in his best trial and led a list of 10 skaters who will compete in the Canadian qualifiers in Quebec City.

The Quebec City contest is part Canadian championship and part World championship, in a televised event attended by tens of thousands of spectators every year.

The Canadian qualifiers will be held March 17 to 18, with the best skaters moving on to compete in the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Cup on March 19.

Until then Miller intends to “train like a freak,” working with a personal trainer at the Kanata Greco Lean and Fit gym, focusing on foot speed, balance and stability.

Opportunities to skate downhill are limited in the Ottawa area, but Miller plans to ski skate (using short-length skis) down a few local hills like Mount Pakenham in the weeks leading up to the event.

“I just want to see how I do,” said Miller. “If I do terrible and fall down, I do terrible and fall down.”

Bookmark and Share

In Your Neighbourhood Today