This winter has been a cold one—but that’s just how AEO Associate Jordan L. likes it. Jordan is not only an Assistant Buyer for Men’s Knit T-Shirts and Polos, he is also a qualifier for the Red Bull Crashed Ice competition in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The competition itself involves a series of athletes competing in extreme sports, suited head to toe in hockey gear. These competitors zoom down an urban ice course with hairpin turns and extremely high vertical drops. We sat down with Jordan to learn more about Red Bull Crashed Ice and his experience with the tournament thus far. Be sure to follow his journey as he tries to crush his competition in Saint Paul this weekend.
Hey Jordan! Please introduce yourself. What makes you unique?
I’m the Assistant Buyer for Knit T-Shirts and Polos. I started working for AEO about a year and a half ago after graduating from Bowdoin College. I moved from Boston, making Pittsburgh my 12th city! I grew up in a hockey family. My dad, Mike, played in the NHL for six teams over a 12-year career and won the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens. Needless to say I’ve been skating since I could walk. I’m also a lifelong snowboarder and adrenaline junkie so when I heard about Red Bull Crashed Ice it immediately sparked my interest.
How did you hear about Red Bull Crashed Ice?
I saw it on TV last year and instantly looked it up online. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it before. I tried to register for it last year but I missed the deadline so it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for awhile now. This year there were eight qualifiers held across the US. The qualifiers consisted of timed heats on a flat ice obstacle course. The top 2 times at each city qualified for the main event and I was fortunate enough to finish in 22.46 seconds, the top time in Buffalo last month.
Tell us about the event.
The event in St. Paul is the 2nd leg of the Crashed Ice World Championships. The sport itself is referred to as “Ice Cross Downhill.” It’s hard to explain what it is without a visual but I’ll do my best. Essentially, it’s a four man (or woman!) race on hockey skates down an ice track with hairpin turns and jumps at speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour. I can’t do it justice, so I’ve included the video here for you to watch. The 400+ meter track is being constructed in downtown St. Paul and they’re expecting crowds of over 100,000 people. It’s St. Paul’s 3rd year hosting the event and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. There’s talk of it being a future X-Games sport, and who knows, maybe we’ll see it in the Olympics someday!
How has your experience been thus far?
Winning the qualifier was awesome but seeing my friends and family members excited was even more rewarding. The support from day one has been amazing. I had two coworkers from American Eagle Outfitters make the trek to Buffalo with me and they didn’t even really know what I was doing there. A bunch of my friends bought plane tickets as soon as they heard the news so the experience is only going to get better. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on social media while I’m out there.
How have you been training for this event?
I typically play hockey twice a week and I have a pretty consistent gym routine so I haven’t had to change much. I’ve been running a lot more, doing Plyometric’s, and trying to make healthier choices on the weekends. It’s a hard event to prepare for since it’s nearly impossible to simulate. Skating was always my strongest asset when I played hockey but cruising down a Crashed Ice track is a totally foreign concept to me. I got in touch with a guy who owns a skate park in Pittsburgh called The Wheel Mill. He was stoked when I gave him a call and has been nice enough to open the park for me on mornings before work. It’s been so beneficial for me to get on the ramps and work on my transitions and balance. Those sessions gave me some added confidence going into the big event.
Do you have any superstitious rituals you do before competing?
Some people are borderline OCD when it comes to putting on hockey gear. I’m not like that. I’m not very superstitious, I have zero rituals. I had a Coors Light and a McDonald’s Snack Wrap before the qualifier so I don’t know, I might do that again.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced in this tournament?
The biggest challenge I’m facing as a “rookie” is my inexperience. That’s definitely going to be my biggest obstacle to overcome but everyone has to be a rookie at some point. It’s a little intimidating to go up against the best in the world who have done this countless times but I’m hoping I’ll catch on quickly in the practice runs. Hopefully my speed and general disregard for my safety can compensate for the lack experience. We’ll see!
What advice would you give to those wanting to compete?
Just go for it. You’ll never know what it takes until you try. I’m still figuring it out for myself. Oh, and wear a helmet.
If you win the entire Red Bull Crashed Ice tournament, what’s next on your to do list?
Thank my mom, then submit Paid Time Off and go to Vegas.