Ice Cross Races Back at Mont Du Lac
SUPERIOR, Wis. — Athletes had to sharpen their gear for a new kind of downhill racing here at Mont Du Lac this weekend.
“We have riders from all over the world here this weekend, it’s really cool, really special, and it’s just something that if you haven’t done it before, you gotta come out and try it,” TJ Aubrecht, Vice President of The US Ice Cross Association and Competitor at Saturdays race said.
It seems daunting for some, but definitely not for these thrill seekers.
“It’s a blast, the best part is how fun it is,” Kale Johnstone, President of The Us Ice Cross Association said.
Men and women geared up to take part in the annual ice cross race at Mont Du Lac Ski Resort on Saturday one of many international destinations in the series.
“That honestly is probably one of the best parts about this sport, we talk about it all the time, we have friends all over the world, and honestly when we have an event here, it allows all of our friends, everyone to come in, and that’s what we look forward to each and every year,” Aubrecht said.
Countries like Finland, Ireland, and Russia were represented in superior for the events, reaching breathtaking speeds, in skates, on ice.
“It’s a sport that you skate down a hill in hockey gear on skates going 30-35 plus miles an hour, banks, turns, twists, competition, it’s crazy,” Johnstone said.
The majority of the skaters have a history of playing hockey, or rollerblading, which helps their technique during races, but no matter how many times you do it, there are still always the game day jitters.
“You get a little bit of nerves at first, but after that first run the nerves leave and now we’re just having fun,” said Aubrecht.
And that’s seen on most of everyone’s faces, as they come down the hill.
“Especially as a first timer it’s really tough, but you get the hang of it really quickly if you fall, everybody gets back up, they have a huge smile on their face, and they’re excited to go again,” Johnstone added.
As for Johnstone, he travels internationally to host some of these races, coming from one in Austria last week and set to leave for Finland next week for the ATSX Ice Cross World Championship Series, but being back in the region feels like home for the Chicago native.
“People from the Midwest you know, we love the cold, we embrace the cold here, so we might as well make something like this while we have it. It’s great to have skiing and snowboarding going on at the same time so why not throw on ice skates and skate at the same time as well,” he said.
The festivities continue through Sunday, where kids are encouraged to gear up and rip down the course from 10 to 12 in the kids cross.