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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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
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.”