I hear the sound of 900 horsepower being summoned under a heavy foot and look down the mountain in angst as my gondola slowly swings to a stop. The next wave of drivers have left the starting line and my hope of an aerial shot from the ski lift are gone with the proverbial wind.
“Lets get this thing going!” I think to myself. Shortly after, the Gondola stutters forward as we make our way back down to the lodge. Plumes of snow assault the area as the Pro 4 trucks race up the mountainside in an effort to outdrive their opponent. I step off the gondola at the lodge lift station, just as I hear the announcer calling for the next heat. I grab my gear and double time it up the mountain. Where am I, you might ask? I’m at Red Bull’s Frozen Rush.
Sunday River Ski Resort is nestled in the little mountain town of Newry, Maine. How Sunday River came to be home to the first ever Frozen Rush last year, I’m not quite certain, but I am glad they did. This will be the second year that Frozen Rush has been run and the first event of the Red Bull Signature Series. The concept: bring some of the best drivers in off road racing, take 900 horsepower, all wheel drive Pro-4 trucks, and build a course full of jumps and banked corners on the side of snowy mountain.
Until last year, this had never happened. Both the trucks and the drivers were more akin to driving in desert conditions. A complete 180 from the wintery conditions found here. So all the folks here are paving the way for events like this in the future. Setting guidelines, figuring out what works, and what needs to be scrapped. Pretty cool.
Anyways, back to the action.
One thing I found to be amazing was they in no way shut down the mountain to skiers for this two day event. Granted, they closed off certain trails surrounding the course but most skiers had a bird’s eye view from either the chair lifts or adjacent trails to watch the action unfolding down below. As stated earlier, I wasn’t so fortunate.
As the day progressed from snow in the morning to blue skies and high winds in the afternoon, the driver field was narrowed down to two. Red Bull’s defending champion, Ricky Johnson and teammate Bryce Menzies. The last race is a 6 lap race compared to the 2 and 4 lap heats prior. Course conditions had changed considerably so it came down to experience versus raw talent. Well, to an extent. Theatrics, gotta love it.
The flag waved green and Ricky Johnson took the hole-shot as they crest the first jump. As the course split and the trucks went their separate ways, Johnson suffered a poor landing giving teammate Menzies the chance to overtake to first place. While Johnson spent the next 5 laps regaining ground, he was unable to beat out Menzies for the Red Bull Frozen Rush Championship. It would seem Johnson’s years of mentoring Menzies, which seemed to help fine tune and direct his talent, had paid off. The passing of the torch from Ricky to Bryce was received with humble words and gratitude from an obviously elated Bryce Menzies.
“Ricky’s been my teammate for four years and he’s pretty much helped me through everything.” said Bryce Menzies. “He’s helped me through three championships in Pro 2 and he gave me a lot of advice coming into this race. Our plan was to get me and him in the final and we did it. To start off the season with a win is huge and I couldn’t be more stoked..”
All and all it was a great event and one I hope continues in the years to come. If you were unable to attend, don’t fret, there’s hope. A full length broadcast will air Sunday, March 1st at 2:00pm ET on NBC.
For full race results please follow the link www.redbull.com/frozenrush.
Top 5 Moments from Red Bull Frozen Rush 2015
YouTube Description: There are always major moments that stand out in your memory at any event. Whether they mean much in the end or not, those moments are spectacular on their own. The 2015 edition of Red Bull Frozen Rush had more than a few instances that made fans cringe or cheer (or both), five of which you can see in the video below.
5. Rob MacCachren and Scott Douglas managed to time the over/under jump perfectly on the first lap of their matchup, with MacCachren jumping directly over Douglas at full speed.
4. Rail slides in the snow are usually restricted to skis and snowboards, but Bryce Menzies managed the feat with a 900-horsepower Pro 4 truck on his way to a heat win.
3. The LCQ typically provides just a little action before the big show, but when Carl Renezeder and Todd LeDuc hit the final turn of their last effort to make the main bracket, they gave the crowd the closest finish of the event.
2. Ricky Johnson was in the fight of the day in the final race to claim the 2015 Frozen Rush crown, but a miscue on one of the jumps sent the 2014 champ off his line.
1. Douglas and MacCachren make the list again because on the last lap of their race to determine the final podium spot, the two nearly collided on the straightaway and then dove into the final turn side by side for a fantastic finish.