Six-time Olympic speed skating medal winner Rintje Ritsma enjoyed the experience of racing down the ice track at the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship race in his home country of Holland and expressed the hope that the sport known as ice cross downhill would one day become an Olympic event.
“I like to do exciting things and this is a really exciting thing,” Ritsma said after getting knocked out of the competition on Friday night (elimination round). “I think it would be a good sport for the Olympics. It’s very similar to skier cross and boardercross, which are already in the Olympics: four people in the track and a lot of action and thrills. It’s a real sport for heroes.”
Ritsma, 40, knows what he is talking about after having participated in five Winter Olympics between 1992 and 2006. He was one of the best speed skaters of his generation, winning two silver medals and four bronze medals at three different Olympics. He also won six world championships and six European championships between 1994 and 2001.
'This is real thrill-seeking. I like to do exciting things and this is very exciting'
“It’s very difficult with the coordination and the speed at the same time,” he said. “I like skating on smooth surfaces. This is real thrill-seeking. I like to ski, even more than speed skating. I like to do exciting things and this is very exciting.”
He and former Dutch speed skaters Falko Zandstra, Gerard van Velde and Annamarie Thomas trained together for several weeks for the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Valkenburg.
“We’ve had a lot of fun together,” he said, adding that ice hockey was probably a better background to have for being successful in Red Bull Crashed Ice than speed skating. “I just wanted to come down as well as possible and without taking any risks. Each time it felt a little better.”
Nevertheless, Ritsma is confident that Dutch racers will become more of a force to be reckoned with in the sport before long. “We have a couple of guys who are pretty good. Maybe we need to get a little crazier.”
Despite Ritsma failing to make the cut, 15 'crazy' Dutchmen have made it through to Saturday's 64-man final. Stay tuned to redbullcrashedice.com - the only place to be for all the latest news and results AND live footage of Saturday's main event...