Canada's Scott Croxall won his first Ice Cross Downhill World Championship race of the 2017/18 season on Saturday with a thrilling victory at a Riders Cup race in the United States to widen his lead over Austria's Marco Dallago atop the world championship standings. Defending champion Cameron Naasz was a close second on a frosty night of racing in snow-filled Minnesota after coming within a whisker of catching Croxall with a burst of speed just before the finish line on the 580-meter long track that carved its way through a landscape of trees and Michael "Iggy" Iulianello (USA) took third.
With just two races remaining in the 10-race ATSX Ice Cross Downhill World Championship, the title fight has turned into a close three-way battle. Croxall is in the lead with 2,650 points with Dallago in second (2,305 points) and Naasz in third (2,300). Croxall picked up 250 points with the win in Bloomington and Naasz got 200 points as it became clear that the championship will not be decided until the final Red Bull Crashed Ice race of the season on March 9/10 in Edmonton, Canada where the winner will collect 1,000 points. The final Riders Cup race of the season, a competition set up by the riders themselves and for the riders, will be held on March 3 in La Sarre, Canada.
"In the final I decided to take the inside gate on Naasz and it paid off," said Croxall, smiling in the finish area as snow continued falling on the track behind him. "It was super tight all the way down and he almost got me in the final stretch at the finish line. But I pulled it off and I'm super fired up with my first win of the season."
Canada's Myriam Trepanier won the women's race on the high-speed track in the race run under floodlights amid the falling snow while Amanda Trunzo of the United States took second and Tamara Meuwissen (USA) was third. Trunzo holds a comfortable lead in the women's championship over Canada's Jacqueline Legere in second and Trepanier in third.
"The track was sketchy in some places and I had to push hard at the end," said Trepanier, who like the others had to contend with snow accumulating on the track. "I haven't finished first this year so this is a really good feeling."
Croxall, who won the 2015 championship, has been the epitome of consistency this season with three second place finishes in Jyväskylä, Finland, Saariselka, Finland, and Marseille, France along with a third place in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His well-deserved win in Bloomington helped cement his lead in the overall standings after he moved just ahead of Dallago with his podium last week in Marseille. There have been seven different winners in the eight Ice Cross Downhill World Championship races this season with only Naasz managing to win more than one race this season -- a Riders Cup race in Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria as well as the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Marseille.
Racing in the hotspot of U.S. Ice Cross Downhill in the heart of Minnesota in a suburb of Minneapolis/Saint Paul, there were 108 men and 17 women in Bloomington from six countries and four continents – coming from as far afield as Australia, Canada and Russia. Five of the top ten finishers in the men's race were from the Twin Cities area – Naasz, Tommy Mertz (4th), Maxwell Dunne (7th), Kirk Thornton (8th) and Eli Krieter (10th). There were also 41 rookies racing for the first time.
It was the third Riders Cup race in the United States after earlier races were held in past seasons in Superior, Wisconsin and Afton, Minnesota. It took nearly three weeks for a local team of volunteers led by Eli Krieter, who finished a strong 10th, and Tory Merz to build the challenging 580-meter long track that included features such as a double roller, tabletop and finish line booster.
Bloomington Riders Cup results:
MEN: 1. Scott Croxall (CAN), 2. Cameron Naasz (USA), 3. Michael Iulianello (USA), 4. Tommy Mertz (USA), 5. Kyle Croxall (CAN), 6. Gabriel Renaud (CAN), 7. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 8. Kirk Thornton (USA), 9. German Titov (RUS), 10, Eli Krieter (USA).
WOMEN: 1. Myriam Trepanier (CAN), 2. Amanda Trunzo (USA), 3. Tamara Meuwissen (USA), 4. Emma Krieter (USA), 5. Cassie Roonie (USA)