It’s official. Red Bull Crashed Ice is coming to Niagara Falls.
The energy drink company announced the event Monday on its website saying it would be the first event in a five-stop World Series.
The downhill skating races typically drop more than 80,000 spectators to the side of the courses, which are always built in scenic urban environments. The Crashed Ice World Championship finale in Quebec City last year drew 110,000 people.
The Niagara Falls stop is planned for Dec. 1 and will be one of the anchors of the Winter Festival of Lights, which turns 30 this year.
“We are absolutely delighted to host an awe-inspiring blockbuster event,” said Robin Garrett, the CEO of the Tourism Partnership of Niagara, a government-funded agency that gave organizers $200,000 to help bring the event here.
“We feel there are two major benefits. It will attract a large number of visitors to the area in a time of year when we want to encourage more visitation – that being in the cooler months,” Garrett said. “And the second benefit is the amazing amount of television exposure the Red Bull Crashed Ice event brings.”
In order to land the event, the local organizers had to cover $700,000 of the hosting costs. In addition to the TPN’s contribution, the province’s Celebrate Ontario fund kicked in $200,000 and the remaining $300,000 came from a fundraising drive of area businesses.
Toni Williams, the director of operations for Niagara Falls Tourism, said raising that money took a lot of work from the local organizers – led by Winter Festival of Lights General Manager Dino Fazio.
“It was a real community effort. Everyone came to the table – Niagara Falls Tourism, the (TPN), the business improvement areas and individual properties,” she said.
Williams said it came down to fight between the Falls and Calgary.
“Calgary was pretty aggressive and interested, so we had some competition,” she said. “(Red Bull) loved the area and it was a good fit for how far people would drive for the event.”
Though specific details haven’t been announced, it’s believed the route will start in the upper parking lot of the Skylon Tower, exit onto Murray St. and then continue down the hill before turning left toward the finish line in Queen Victoria Park.
The races are similar to ski or snowboardcross. Four competitors on skates and full hockey padding race down a 350-metre course full of tight turns, jumps and drops. The courses are about four metres wide and are refrigerated like a hockey rink.
The Niagara Falls stop will kick off the 2012-13 season with the series also visiting Saint Paul, Minn. (Jan. 26), Kazan, Russia (Feb. 16), Lausanne, Switzerland (March 2) and Quebec City (March 16).
For those who want to compete, Red Bull Crashed Ice will open registration for the two Canadian World Series stops on Sept. 4. Registration will take place online at www.redbullcrashedice.com and will remain open until Sept. 30.
A lottery will randomly select 200 men and 20 women to participate in each of the 12 qualifying events that will be held in hockey arenas across the country in October. The locations of those qualifying events weren’t announced Monday, but an additional 50 walk-up participants will be accepted at each one.
Racers will try to earn one 100 total available spots for men and 20 for women at the Niagara Falls Crashed Ice race by racing on a course on the rink that will test speed, agility, skill and strength.
What: Red Bull Crashed Ice
Who: Downhill skaters racing fourcross style
Where: Niagara Falls
When: Nov. 29 to Dec. 1
Dec. 1, 2012 Niagara Falls
Jan. 26, 2013 Saint Paul, Minn.
Feb. 16, 2013 Kazan (Russia)
March 2, 2013 Lausanne (Switzerland)
March 16, 2013 Quebec City