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Bearing the brunt of Crashed Ice

Evan Daum | Canadian University Press | Sports | February 14th, 2011

EDMONTON (CUP) — Ben Lindemulder may not have seen any game action last year as he red-shirted for the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team, but that didn't stop the slickskating defenceman from getting his competitive juices flowing in a different way.

Lindemulder, who is a regular on the back-end for the Bears this season, had the opportunity to pursue a spot in last year's Red Bull Crashed Ice event in Quebec City.

While Lindemulder won't be able to return to the 2011 edition as he suits up for the Bears in their stretch run to the postseason, Crashed Ice will once again take over the capital of La Belle Province for the sport's lone Canadian event March 19.

With racers sporting full hockey gear - minus sticks, of course — Crashed Ice is an extreme sport that sees skaters start atop an icy downhill course featuring bumps, jumps and turns. In what looks like an outdoor rink carved through the hills of Old Quebec, the winner of each race is the first competitor to simply survive and make it across the finish line.

For Lindemulder, seeing the event on TV piqued his interest and made him try out last year for the first time.

"I'd always seen it on TV and I just wanted to do it. It looked so fun, and then last year I had to redshirt, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try it. It was a lot of fun," Lindemulder said.

The qualification process for last year's event, just like this year's, started in a number of Canadian cities where participants showed their stuff by racing around a standard ice surface.

"We started at the ringette line, then you drop to your stomach, jump over something, go around a circle, (do) a 360 at the red line and then you're done," Lindemulder explained.

"I was good at that, but I didn't do as well at the event."

While Lindemulder might not have done as well as he would've liked to in Quebec City, his 11.89 second qualification time was the best at the Edmonton qualifier and one of the top times in the country.

Despite his impressive qualifying time, though, nothing could've prepared Lindemulder for the course itself in Quebec City.

"It looked so scary," Lindemulder recalled. "It was way up on scaffolding, going down this huge hill with huge drops, and there was this one turn where there was a huge drop with a straight 90- degree (turn).

"Guys were hurting their shoulders, and one guy broke his collarbone."

With the risk of injury very real as skaters can reach speeds in excess of 70 km/h on the icy downhill course, Lindemulder ran the idea past Bears head coach Eric Thurston before heading off to Quebec.

The bench boss gave the green light to the idea, but with one caveat.

"All Thurston said was, 'Don't get hurt,' and then sent me off," Lindemulder chuckled.

"He did the preliminaries here and had a great time," Thurston pointed out. "He's a great skater and I said, 'Just be careful, don't get hurt' and he made it through. It's quite interesting - if you see it on TV, you've got to be a little bit off the wall ... to be able to go out and do it.

"I think it's absolutely wild and crazy and I give those guys a lot of credit for stepping up and doing it at those speeds, and on the edge the way they are," Thurston added.

After making it into the main event in Quebec City, and through into the first televised round of the event before bowing out, the Bears defender hopes to try his luck with the sport again in the future.

"It was a free trip to Quebec City and it was a lot of fun. A lot of guys do better their second time out there - you get used to it a little bit, so I'd definitely like to try it again."
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