Our January Athlete of the Month is Fenwick alum, Kale Johnstone, who is currently ranked 66th in the world for ice cross downhill skating!
In case you haven’t heard of ice cross downhill skating before, here’s a little taste of the skill it takes to maneuver a Crashed Ice course:
Kale was gracious enough to provide that footage for us, and it only gets more intense during the actual races. To learn more about his experience on the Red Bull Crashed Ice tour, we asked Kale about the various aspects of this budding sport:
- How did you get into downhill skating?
I actually first got into ice cross downhill by trying out back in 2015. Red Bull used to hold tryouts that would consist of an obstacle course on a typical hockey rink. I qualified fourth, so they invited me to try out the Crashed Ice track in St. Paul. I did not make it past the national qualifiers that year, but I was hooked. Ever since, I’ve been attending Riders Cup races to qualify myself for the Crashed Ice events.
- Favorite moment of your career so far?
I would have to say that my favorite moment would be traveling to Marseille, France this season to race. The atmosphere of the city and the fans for the event was absolutely incredible. They really did an awesome job making sure the event went smoothly. The track was incredible as well, it had a lot of features that were very technical and not common to every track.
- What is the competition makeup?
So the competition includes individuals from all sorts of backgrounds. Many include playing hockey in the past, as well as downhill skiing, speed skating, and also inline hockey and street luge. Competitors also come from all over the world. Each country is allowed 9 competitors. The past two seasons, there’s been an increase in competitors coming from countries like Chile and even Australia.
- I see your sponsored by Labatt Blue, did you get to choose your sponsors? If so, any possibility we can get a LMBF sticker on your helmet?
I do get to choose my sponsors. It involves a lot of reaching out to companies, as the sport is still growing and becoming known more and more. We can absolutely get a LMBF sticker on my helmet though!
- What’s your training regimen like?
So my training consists of various components. I still play hockey for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota for the ACHA program, so I skate a very good amount still. It also includes weight lifting about 5-6 times a week. This is focused on total body strength. I also do balance work, sprints, and explosiveness training. When home, I work out at Training For Warriors-Dupage in Villa Park, IL. They really get me in shape for the season, and know what I need to focus on. I also do a lot of rollerblading. Since the sport is so new, there’s no set plan for training, so I focus on going to skate parks, and working on balance in the air, as well as timing and landing. It is a very busy regimen, but it all has to be incorporated to be a successful athlete.
- Does the season have a rough travel schedule?
It can be very rough. This season is the first season I’ve been invited to travel internationally outside of North America, and it’s proved to be pretty hectic on planning. It consists of three weeks traveling France and Finland, catching flights early in the morning or buses late at night, while trying to keep luggage as light as possible. It also takes a toll on schooling. Being a junior still, I have missed a couple weeks of classes. The teachers are awesome though, and have understood how big of an opportunity this is for me and have helped me out a ton.
- Any bad injuries you’ve gotten?
I have injured myself a couple times. The worst was an AC separation in my shoulder that I got while training. I was rollerblading, and took a jump wrong, landed on my shoulder and flung my body around. I also found out from the X-ray that I had dislocated my shoulder the previous year as well.
- Goals for this season?
My goal this season is to position myself top 9 in the United States. This secures me an invitation to each Crashed Ice event for the season, which would be a huge step for me. I also would like to place myself higher than my current 66 World Ranking, hopefully within the top 40.
- Do you see yourself staying in the sport long term?
I do plan on being involved in the sport for as long as I can. I’m still very new, and I do still need to prove myself as a competitor. Although I have made it to some of the major events, I have not had the finishes that I really see myself being capable of. These next few years will be doing that. As long as my body can handle being in the sport, and I remain a competitor, I plan on being involved. I also would like to be involved after I cannot compete anymore, but that’s in the distant future.
- Advice you’d give to someone trying to start ice cross downhill skating?
Don’t be afraid to go out and give it a try. It can be a bit intimidating, but if you think you have the skills to give it a shot, don’t hold back. I tried out on a whim, and it’s led me to some incredible places with some incredible people. Sign up and attend a Riders cup race, and see what happens. You never know. Also, feel free to contact me if you would like to get involved. I’m more than happy to help you through the process and give you advice as to what I’ve gone through.
- Think it has a chance to be an Olympic sport in the future?
Definitely, and I hope it makes it there one day soon. We’ve shown an increase in participating countries, and national federations are being founded every year. It’s only a matter of time before it gets accepted into the Olympics. It would be a great fit, and a really exciting addition to the games.