With Canada celebrating its sesquicentennial, the capital city of Ottawa has been the hub for many memorable events. Among such events includes a plethora of sporting extravaganzas. During the same weekend that the suburb of Kanata hosted the Clarkson Cup, downtown Ottawa was abuzz, as more than 28,000 sporting enthusiasts braved the elements, jamming Wellington and York Streets, along with nearby Parliament Hill and Major’s Hill Park, eager to see the first Red Bull Crashed Ice competition contested in Canada’s capital. Among the dignitaries also in attendance for this adrenaline-filled competition included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mayor Jim Watson.
A dazzling 375-meter long track, with a breathtaking 35-meter drop, was built near the world famous Chateau Laurier hotel, as guests could literally see the action unfold out their window. With both male and female contestants racing on this remarkable frozen configuration over the Ottawa Locks in the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO heritage site, there was no shortage of exhilarating displays of athleticism.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the women’s competition was the fact that so many of these fearless participants had backgrounds in elite ice hockey. While the Ottawa race would crown the Crashed Ice world champions, the stop in Ottawa was not the final race for the Ice Cross downhill season, as another three races remain.
Entering the race as the defending Crashed Ice women’s world champion was Jacqueline Legere, whose hockey background included skating for the PWHL’s Hamilton Hawks. Donning the number 22, made famous by Hayley Wickenheiser, Legere spent two seasons with the Hawks (2009-11), serving as team captain in her senior season.
Prior to the PWHL, Legere competed in the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League, suiting up for the Cambridge Roadrunners. Among her highlights with the Roadrunners was competing in the 2008 Midget AA Stoney Creek Showcase Tournament, where they reached the quarterfinals against the Toronto Aeros.
From the outset, there was definitely a feeling of hometown pride for Ottawans on-hand. While Daniel Guolla competed in the men’s race, enjoying a top 10 finish, he was not the only local hero competing. On the women’s side, a pair of Crashed Ice veterans had once starred with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s ice hockey team under the tutelage of head coach Yanick Evola, having contributed towards the Gee-Gees emerging as a nationally ranked program. Cantley’s Dominique Lefebvre, and Alicia Blomberg each qualified for the event, adding to a proud legacy of women’s sport in Ottawa.
Blomberg and Lefebvre had played alongside Fannie Desforges, a captain of the Gee-Gees (2012-13), who was the winner of the 2012 Red Bull Crashed Ice women’s championship in Quebec City. Both would graduate in 2013, as their final game saw them compete in an exhibition against the Czech Republic national women’s ice hockey team in nearby Rockland.
The hockey impact of Blomberg and Lefebvre on Canada’s capital city also includes amazing careers as two of its greatest ever ball hockey competitors. Having won a national championship with the Vanier Mooseheads, Blomberg and Lefebvre, along with Desforges and former Gee-Gees hockey coach Erika Pouliot, have also shined on the international stage with Canada’s national team in golden performances at the INBHF World Championships.
While Blomberg and Lefebvre would be among seven wondrous Canadian women that finished in the top 10, the final victory went to Jacqueline Legere, who captured her second victory this season. Part of an all-Canadian podium finish, Legere was joined by Maxie Plante and Elaine Topolnisky, who finished second and third, respectively. Their combined efforts contributed to the strong feeling of national pride.
Hailing from St. George, Ontario, Legere, in her seventh season of Crashed Ice also crossed the finish line first at an earlier event in January 2017 in Marseilles, France. Employed as a stuntwoman, with credits ranging from Reign and Killjoys to Orphan Black and the highly popular DC Comics film adaptation, Suicide Squad, an average day can include cliff jumping, hand-to-hand combat and one of the staples of the profession, being on fire.
Reaching second place for the first time in her promising Crashed Ice career, Plante first made news as a hockey player when she starred at the CEGEP level with the Stanstead College Spartans. Raised in Magog, Québec, her hockey career would reach an exceptional milestone as she joined teammate (and 2017 Clarkson Cup champion) Sarah Lefort as members of Team Québec for the 2011 Canada Winter Games. The two would make key contributions throughout the tournament, emerging with a bronze medal after defeating Team Saskatchewan by a 4-3 mark.
Also spending two seasons with the Université de Montréal Carabins, Plante appeared in the 2012 CIS national women’s ice hockey championships. Facing off against the Calgary Dinos, Plante’s career would reach its pinnacle with a silver medal. Competing in her first Crashed Ice event in 2014, Plante would enjoy a series of top 10 finishes since then.
Western Canada was proudly represented by Elaine Topolnisky. The pride of Kamloops, BC, she would appear in more than 70 games with the Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks from 2001-04. In addition, she would gain the opportunity to compete for the Mavericks’ track and field team, sprinting in 100-meter competitions. Having first soared down the paths of Crashed Ice in 2012, she balances her athletic endeavors with time as an entrepreneur, working as a registered massage therapist and running her own enterprise as a fitness instructor.
Four other Canadians would finish among the Top 10 at Red Bull Crashed Ice. All possessing hockey backgrounds, they are contributing towards an outstanding legacy in Crashed Ice that intersects with Canada’s passion. Finishing fifth, behind Junko Yamamoto of Japan was Canadian expatriate Myriam Trepanier. Currently calling Minnesota home, Trepanier spent four seasons playing for head coach Shannon Miller with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, while also establishing herself as a two-sport star with the Bulldogs softball team.
Finishing in seventh place, sandwiched in between Germany’s Katrina Buesch and Swiss competitor Anais Morand was UBC Thunderbirds hockey alum Tamara Kajah. Blomberg emerged with a ninth place finish, while former Gee-Gees teammate Lefebvre rounded out the top 10.
The exhilarating victory allowed Legere to overtake Amanda Trunzo in the overall standings and become the first back-to-back women’s world champion in Red Bull Crashed Ice. Coincidentally, US men’s competitor Cameron Naasz would finish first in Ottawa, also becoming the first back-to-back men’s champion.
Ending the Crashed Ice season with 2,450 overall points, Legere came from behind to edge Trunzo for the world championship by 150 points. Trunzo, who once starred with the Dartmouth Big Green women’s ice hockey program, enjoyed the best finish in her Crashed Ice career. Trepanier, whose hockey resume also includes an NCAA Frozen Four championship, ranked third with 1,950 points.
The proud women’s hockey presence continued as former Minnesota State Mavericks competitor Elaine Topolnisky placed fourth in the women’s world championship standings, having accumulated a respectable 1,450 points. Fifth place belonged to American Sidney O’Keefe, who once played hockey at the famous Shattuck St. Mary’s school in Faribault, Minnesota.
Photo credits: Jacqueline Legere by Balazs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool
Collage of Blomberg and Lefebvre obtained from: https://twitter.com/geegeeswhockey
Maxie Plante in action with the Montreal Carabins obtained from: https://www.carabins.umontreal.ca/pages/ZoneBleus/Photos.aspx?lang=FR-CA&cat=140&page=2&nb=36