For anyone who has ever seen the TV show American Ninja Warrior, then I really hope you’ve heard about this Red Bull: Crashed Ice event. Take the same concept as Ninja Warrior, with contestants racing the clock in order to complete an course full of obstacles and twisted barriers, add ice and high speeds, and you get this crazy, winter event.
Whether or not it’s something that you’ve ever seen before or not, it’s quite appealing, with plenty of people trying to duplicate the same type of courses in their own backyards to compete on.
An individual tournament of 64 participants places racers in a bracket much like the NCAA Tournament, with the top two in each race advancing until the Finals comes along, pinning the best four racers against one another in an all-out, slippery slope—literally. With each race featuring four athletes speeding downhill at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, crashes are something that will frequently occur. But if a racer is found guilty of intentionally causing a fellow competitor to fall, slow down or leave the course, that person is disqualified. So while it’s a wild ride, the rules make sure that nothing gets too out of hand. Since I’m a big fan of this type of stuff, I’m giving you the top six winningest athletes from the series.
They may never be Winter Olympians, but they are just as insane.
6. Kevin Olson, Canada – Two Wins
As a two-time single event winner before the current points system was implemented in 2010, Canada’s Kevin Olson has proven to be quite the force in the sport over the years. Capturing his first event win in his home country of Canada in 2007, Olson went on to get a second-straight victory at the next event in Finland, as well.
Although he hasn’t won as an individual since, he has maintained to be one of the very best Crashed Ice competitors ever seen—and one of its remaining two-time winners.
5. Jasper Felder, Sweden – Seven Wins
Although Jasper Felder never actually won a world championship in its current format—mainly because the points system was introduced beginning in 2010—that doesn’t discount what a living legend and influence he had on the sport. Winning the first six single events from 2001-2005, and then again in 2009, Felder knows just about everything one would need to in order to be successful at the crazy sport.
And that’s a good thing for Team Sweden this year, as Felder took over the post of head coach for his home country back in 2012.
4. Derek Wedge – Switzerland – Two Wins (One World Championship)
The reigning World Champion, Derek Wedge from Switzerland, is hoping that the same luck that earned him the title last year will carry over into 2014. With one single event win last year—held in the Netherlands—Wedge was able to hold off his competition in order to add his name to the short list of World Champions.
For Derek, it certainly has been the quality of wins over the quantity of them thus far in his career.
3. Martin Niefnecker – Germany – Two Wins (One World Championship)
Much like the aforementioned Derek Wedge, Germany’s Martin Niefnecker has seen the top of the podium only a few times. But, fortunately for him, one of those happened to be the 2010 World Championships, earning the first title in which the new points system was put into place prior to that season.
He hasn’t been heard from much since then, but for diehards who have followed the sport since its competitive existence, he’s someone they’re probably familiar with.
2. Arttu Pihlainen – Finland (Eight Wins, One World Championship)
If you want to talk about talented, there are few who can claim to have more experience and victories than Arttu Pihlainen. Earning his two wins in 2008, the Finnish competitor repeated as a champ in 2009 while on the same course in Canada. It wasn’t until a few years later, in 2011, when Arrtu delivered his first championship, though, winning all but just one event that season.
He has gone on to win an additional event in both 2012 and 2013.
1. Kyle Croxall – Canada (Seven Wins, One World Championship)
While Arttu Pihlainen might be a legend for all the winning he has done, the lone competitor just a tad higher up on the mountain—holding bragging rights over everyone else—is Canada’s Kyle Croxall. With a win in each of the past four years from 2010-2013, Croxall has added a world championship to his resume (2012).
Narrowly missing out on a few other opportunities to become the first two-time world champ since the points system was developed in 2010, Croxall’s name will undoubtedly be close to the top of the leaderboard when all is said and done once again this year.