Skating downhill -- really fast!

Ice cross came to Ottawa last weekend.

 Photo Roman Romanovich

Photo Roman Romanovich

The crowd loved it.

The town went nuts for it.

And why not!  

 Photo Roman Romanovich

Photo Roman Romanovich

It's not every day you see skaters hurtling downhill at 75 kph.

 Photo Roman Romanovich

Photo Roman Romanovich

Red Bull sponsors the international ice cross races under the name Crashed Ice.

 Photo Roman Romanovich

Photo Roman Romanovich

Ottawa hosted the 2017 world finals.  

The track is set up in the ravine between the Parliament buildings and the Chateau Laurier.

A hundred-and-eighty-five years ago, Colonel By and his engineers found a way to bring the Rideau Canal down from Dow's Great Swamp to the final destination at the Ottawa River.

The land above the locks is flat enough that the stretch of nearly 8 kilometres becomes the Rideau Canal Skateway in the winter.

But once you get to Wellington Street, it's a sharp drop to the river.  Even when the temperature is 20-below, the water runs free.

The course begins with a steep drop alongside the Chateau Laurier.

It takes a sharp turn and a further drop...

 then hurtles along the line of the canal locks.

It's not downhill all the way.  That would be suicidal!

 Photo Roman Romanovich

Photo Roman Romanovich

 In fact there's spots where the track rises sharply and the skaters grab some air as they go over top.

 Photo Roman Romanovich

Photo Roman Romanovich

That is, those who don't lose their momentum -- those who do lose it face a tough climb in skates.

Saturday night, some 27,000 people showed up to watch Crashed Ice.  They started to arrive in mid-afternoon.

They took their places along the track.

And they waited.

They weren't disappointed.

There's one way that Red Bull Crashed Ice could be made even more exciting, of course.  Next time, maybe we'll see them race in kilts!