SportsEvents Magazine

MAY 2018

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Page 90 of 99 May 2018 91 t SPORT Report trials in the fall and national championships in the spring," Gowdy said. Ice cross, a fast, high-energy, tactical sport, is fairly new to the snow sports scene. Just watching skaters fly along the Red Bull Crashed Ice course can get your heart racing. Because of the blend of various athletic prowess needed, athletes come to ice cross from sports such as hockey, ice skating, snow skiing, mountain biking and snow- boarding. "The guys and gals love to train at skate parks in the off-season." said Maria Balogh of the US Ice Cross Association. "They do this on rollerblades and utilize the ramps and drops-ins to keep their legs in shape." "You can also find them at hockey training facilities where they work with trainers on skate treadmills to keep their stamina and agility in tip-top shape," she said. "Of course, most of them also play in rec hockey leagues." Other off-skate training includes Cross- Fit, to work a variety of muscle groups; yoga, to help with balance and body control; and mountain biking and down- hill skiing/snowboarding, to get used to the downhill aspect and knowing the best routes during racing season. Each summer, USABS holds combines across the country in order to recruit new bobsled and skeleton athletes. "These have proven greatly successful in bringing in some of the top talent to the sports, which most athletes discover post-collegiately," Gowdy said. The U.S. Olympic Committee also began the Next Olympic Hopeful show last summer and will continue it this year. "The show is designed to recruit talent to several Olympic sports and it has proven to be beneficial for us as well," Gowdy said. The US Ice Cross Association hosts one Riders Cup per year but that can change depending on the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship schedule (other international Riders Cups and the Red Bull Crashed Ice races) as well as hill availability. "The Riders Cups are open to any and all skaters, which make them a great way for new skaters to try out the sport," Balogh said. "They are also the only way for new skaters to get points that determine who gets invited to Red Bull Crashed Ice races." At its event this past February, more than half of the 125 skaters were new to the sport, Balogh said. When looking at hills to host its events, the US Ice Cross Association searches for places that are easily accessible for skaters and fans. "Hyland Hills in Bloomington, Minn., was perfect this year since it was just minutes away from the MSP airport, hotels and, of course, the Mall of America," Balogh said. "It also didn't hurt that it was in the state of hockey." Balogh said the association was also lucky to find a staff that was passionate about helping bring this new sport to the public. "Their social media and marketing team was a fantastic help in spreading the word and their staff was extremely helpful every step of the way," Balogh said. Pace recounted what she's learned from long-distance dogsled racing. "You face the most incredible highs and the most debilitating lows over the course of a thousand miles," Pace said. She also learned you can't go wrong if you base decisions on the dogs and their happiness. "Don't pay attention to any of the other teams or any other mushers' strategies," she said. "Keep your head in your own game and don't forget to enjoy the scenery and appreciate where you are and why you're doing what you're doing." n The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race trail is about 1,150 miles but the official length is billed as 1,049 miles because Alaska is the 49th state in the Union. Julien Schroder/ Teams compete in the IBSF World Cup in Park City, Utah, in 2017. Molly Choma/USABS

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