Towering American Maxwell Dunne beat former and reigning Ice Cross Downhill World Champions, Scott Croxall and Cameron Naasz, in a thrilling Riders Cup race in northern Finland to kick off the second half of the season. Canada's Maxie Plante got her first career win in a hard-fought women's race.
Dunne stormed into the lead of a star-studded Riders Cup final in the northern Finland ski resort of Saariselka and never let up, holding on for a tight win at the sixth stop of the 10-race Ice Cross Downhill World Championship 2017/18 season on Saturday. With darkness closing in on the track after the sunset near the arctic circle at 4 p.m. in the frozen far north, Canada's Scott Croxall grabbed a close second place on the fast natural ice track carved into a steep slope at the ski resort some 1,100 kilometers north of Helsinki. Defending champion Cameron Naasz (USA) bounced back from a frustrating quarter-final exit in last week's Red Bull Crashed Ice in Jyväskylä and finished a solid third place on a bitterly cold afternoon with temperatures falling to 10 degrees below zero Celsius.
Maxwell Dunne celebrates his first-ever win alongside the three other men's finalists in Saariselka. Photo: Mark Roe/Red Bull Content Pool.
Finland's Paavo Klintrup took fourth in a hard-fought final down the 380-meter long track with a 40-meter drop that featured five jumps and seven turns with racers hitting speeds of up to 65 km/h in the world's fastest sport on skates. Ice Cross Downhill World Championship leader Marco Dallago was knocked out in the quarter-finals when he crashed off the track shortly after the start and ended up fourth in his heat
But the Austrian ace and 2014 world champion managed to hold onto his lead in the championship with 1,855 points after adding just 65 points for 13th place on Saturday ahead of next weekend's Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Marseille, France, where the winner will collect 1,000 points. Croxall, who picked up 200 points for second place in the Riders Cup race, narrowed Dallago's lead to 255 points with 1600 points. Two-time champion Naasz, who won 150 points for third place, is also within striking range of Dallago in third place overall with 1,100 points.
"It feels great, it feels great, I love the track," said Dunne, who collected the 250 points for the Riders Cup win – a first career victory to boost his morale and help the towering 6-foot-1-inch-tall American forget about a disappointing start to the season. "My goal was to get a good start in the final race and try to control it from there."
Maxie Plante held off the late challenge of Jacqueline Legere to win a thrilling women's final. Photo: Mark Roe/Red Bull Content Pool.
Canada's Maxie Plante took first place in a thrilling women's race, fending off a furious late challenge from defending champion Jacqueline Legere of Canada to cross the finish line first. Finland was well represented in the women's final, with Marjut Klemola taking third place and Miisa Klemola in fourth.
"It feels awesome," said Plante. "It was a tight race. It feels great to win."
A total of 136 of the world's best Ice Cross Downhill racers from 21 countries took part in the race, the fourth of six Riders Cup races this season and the final Riders Cup in Europe. There are two Red Bull Crashed Ice races remaining on the calendar and two Riders Cup races in North America.
Riders Cup Saariselka Results
Men: 1. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 2. Scott Croxall (CAN), 3. Cameron Naasz (USA), 4. Paavo Klintrup (FIN), 5. Michael Urban (CZE), 6. Mirko Lahti (FIN), 7, John Fisher (CAN), 8. Steven Cox (CAN), 9. Kyle Croxall (CAN), 10. Patrik Merz (SUI)
Women: 1. Maxie Plante (CAN), 2. Jacqueline Legere (CAN), 3. Marjut Klemola (FIN), 4. Miisa Klemola (FIN), 5. Junko Yamamoto (JPN), 6. Riina Laitinen (FIN), 7. Sandrine Rangeon (FRA), 8. Milla Lasilla (FIN), 9. Victoria Senotrusova (RUS), 10. Lou Pierrot (FRA).