Arts & Culture

Why adrenalin junkies will be hitting Ottawa in 2017

When you’re watching skaters flying through the air as they speed down an ice track through the heart of downtown, don’t worry if your heart skips a beat. It’ll be happening to everyone around you, too.

Ice cross downhill, one of the most extreme winter sports, features four racers tearing down an ice track of moguls, hills, hairpin turns and straightaways at incredible speeds. When Red Bull Crashed Ice hosts the Ice Cross Downhill World Championships finals in Ottawa next March, adrenalin junkies who haven’t yet discovered the sport will see just what they’ve been missing. Red Bull Crashed Ice’s Ottawa debut will be the most unmissable in a series of major sporting events the capital is hosting in 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

For the finals, Red Bull Crashed Ice will make full use of the city’s landmarks and landscape, running hundreds of metres of track along the locks of the Rideau Canal, with full views of Parliament Hill and the historic Fairmont Château Laurier.

“This is a one-of-kind sport and a one-of-a-kind event united together,” says Christian Papillon, sport director of Ice Cross Downhill World Championship for Red Bull Crashed Ice, and perhaps Canada’s ultimate adrenalin junkie. He came to ice cross downhill after trying out hockey, motocross and snowboarding. “You have world-class athletes going at crazy speeds, which is the main attraction. But there’s also massive, crazy events with interaction and entertainment happening all around you—always something creating excitement.”

The canal provides the ideal environment for a thrilling ice course, which each racer will speed down as many as 25 times during the championships. Real estate on the track is limited, so racers must adapt their style to whoever they’re up against. “Crashes are part of our sport, but those men and women are warriors. They love it like that,” says Papillon.

Newbies to ice cross downhill should have no problem catching on—even as they’re catching their breath. Powerhouses like Kyle and Scott Croxall, brothers from Toronto, and Dean and Dylan Moriarity, brothers from Montreal, have solid fan bases and are likely to make it to the 2017 finals. The long ice track and the screens around the course provide many excellent spots to catch the action, though Papillon likes to watch from the finish line, where spectators can see the emotions of the riders.

For those who crave action year-round, the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship is just the fastest of Ottawa’s 2017 sports extravaganzas. Check out:

  • The Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, at TD Place Arena from Jan. 16 to 22, kick off a year of sports in Ottawa.
  • The Canadian Track and Field Championships, which serve as selection trials for national teams such as the World Championships, World Junior Championships, Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Pan/Parapan American Games, take place July 6 to 9.
  • The White Water Canoe Kayak National Championships will take place August 5 to 6.
  • The stars of the Ladies Professional Golf Association will return to Ottawa for the fourth Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, from August 21 to 27.
  • The Can-Am League and American Association of Professional Baseball will showcase their talents at Ottawa Champions All Star Baseball during the summer of 2017.
  • The Ottawa Senators and Ottawa 2017 are teaming up to present a four-day celebration for the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup.
  • Tim Hortons Roar of Rings will take place at Canadian Tire Centre, Dec. 2 to 10. It’s the final qualifying tournament for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea.


This is sponsored content. For more details on Ottawa’s 150th birthday celebrations, please go to Ottawa 2017.