American Cameron Naasz has been vague until now about how he was able to suddenly emerge as one of the world’s top ice cross downhill athletes this season after being a middle-of-the-pack, just-another-face-in-the-crowd in his rookie year.
Naasz now admits that it was a completely flubbed final race of the 2012 season in Quebec that turned the previously mild-mannered 23-year-old St. Cloud State University student into a man on a mission to get the very most out of his ice cross downhill career.
“I was really, really pissed off that I did so poorly in Quebec; that motivated me to work hard at getting better all summer long,” said Naasz, who has a background playing hockey, as well as snowboarding and inline rollerblading.
“I skated well but fell in the first round on Friday night in the round of 128 and didn’t even get a chance to skate on Saturday in Quebec. I was 63rd in Quebec and not happy, to say the least. That was a big motivator for me in the off-season. It gave me a lot of drive to come back this year and do well.”
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Naasz, who works a part-time job at an office supply store, played in a hockey league during the summer, spent countless hours working out in the gym, and went downhill mountain biking and inline skating to improve his game in ice cross downhill.
“I do a lot of downhill mountain biking,” he said. “It’s a big help for this sport. I think it helps with the transitions and keeping speed through the corners. And it’s just a lot of fun. I like to have fun with the stuff I do."
Naasz earned a stunning second place in the 2012/'13 season opener in Niagara Falls after the forgettable 63rd in Quebec. It was the best result for an American in the high-speed sport. Remarkable, considering that he started skating ice cross downhill only last January, and by accident.
“I was just planning to come and watch the race in Saint Paul last year with my girlfriend but my buddy who works at Red Bull said, ‘Hey, I think you’d be good at this, you should give it a try’,” Naasz pointed out. “That was two weeks before the Saint Paul race. I was like, ‘alright, sure, I’ll give it a go.'”
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