BOSTON – After spring-like conditions this week, it’s hard to believe America’s most beloved ballpark is getting ready for a new winter sport this weekend. The fastest sport on ice, known as downhill ice skating, is making its Boston debut at Fenway Park.
The sport is like ski cross or speed skating, but full contact. There is a massive 1,200 foot track with jumps, vertical drops and tight turns. The entire course took nearly six weeks to construct, and luckily, the lack of snow made for great conditions for the build. As skaters compete, they will take in the spirit of the ballpark, racing from the bleachers, winding through the infield and finishing at home plate.
Spectators will witness a thrilling sport unlike any other.
Christian Papillion is the Red Bull Crashed Ice sports director and explains what the fans will experience.
“They have chills. They will see crashes as they’ve never seen. You’ll see performance, athletic performance like you’ve never seen before.”
Fenway Park is the first stadium to host the Red Bull Crashed Ice series. One hundred seventy-three of the best skaters in the world will be fighting for the World Championship.
One competitor this weekend will be Michael Iulianello, of Rochester, N.Y. He is excited to showcase downhill ice skating to the East Coast, especially Boston. “I think just the excitement that comes with sports in this city … Red Bull Crashed Ice is an extreme sport, an exciting sport; once they see it, they are hooked.”
The two-day event will kick off Friday and continue into Saturday. Men, Women and Juniors will compete. The best and toughest skaters will race down the track, shoulder to shoulder, at speeds of 50 mph. The recent mild weather and record highs on Wednesday were a concern for organizers, as some of the artificial ice began to melt, and ice safety is a big priority for this event.
Fenway Sports Management Vice President of Special Events Fred Olsen explains what the conditions of the ice were like this week and how they are preparing to keep conditions safe into the weekend. “We saw some melting, but I think its setting up well. It’s evening out some areas. And there is a chiller system that regulates the temperature … ice mats, under the ice itself. Thankfully the crew that’s working out here has been in environments like St. Paul the last seven years. It’s not unusual to them to have massive fluctuations, from cold to hot and vice versa, so I think it will set up really well. And they will be paying very close attention to any problem areas.”
So despite the wild week of weather, Fenway Park is ready for the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship.
Papillion believes this event will be a unique experience for Boston, the city of champions. “People will have a blast when they come to a Red Bull crashed ice event. Boston is such a good sport city, but I think this has something a bit different.“
Tickets can be found here.