He says he’s not a daredevil, but Terrace’s Rory Bird is heading to Quebec to compete as an amateur in Redbull’s Crashed Ice downhill ice cross championship.
What’s downhill ice cross? It’s an extreme sport that sees athletes in skates and full hockey gear battle their way down a downhill ice track, complete with jumps, wall-rides and obstacles.
Athletes are “allowed some contact but you can’t blatantly go out and body check some guy, you’re just kind of jostling to get in front,” explained Bird, 24, who qualified for the competition earlier this winter in Vancouver.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a daredevil, but I’ll try something new every time, and this year I decided to give this a try,” said Bird.
He entered the competition for the first time last year at the urging of his cousin, Graeme Treweeke, who qualified for nationals this year for the third year in a row.
“I went last year and missed out by 4/100ths of a second, so I was pretty choked after that,” he said. “But this year I finished in the 10th spot and qualified by 2/100ths of a second.”
The top 10 athletes from B.C. compete at the national competition in Quebec City this week.
Bird’s qualifying time of 23:61 this year was almost a full second faster than his time of 24:81 last year, which is promising.
But it’s hard to know what to expect when you get to the official ice course – it’s a whole different experience than the qualifying round.
“Through the qualifying phase you didn’t do anything that you see on TV,” he said. “Basically you’re in an ice rink and you just go around a bunch of obstacles, so I never got to experience that.”
While there aren’t any ice hills to train on in Terrace, Bird says he’s been running and building up leg strength, and getting in ice time playing ringette and hockey.
“I’ve pretty much been skating since I was seven, eight,” he said.
He’s also a skier, and is comfortable taking jumps while skiing, so he should be able to draw on that during the race.
But it’s going to be a battle if he wants to make it to the televised amateur finals this weekend – there are about 120 qualifiers from across Canada, and after going through a whole new qualifying system, the top 32 have a chance to go on TV.
“I’m kind of just in it for the experience,” he said. “I’m pretty excited but nervous at the same time.”
For more information on the event – and to see videos of what the course looks like – visit http://www.redbullcrashedice.com/.