One to watch

During his 10 day rotation at Kearl, Imperial’s oil sands mining operation, you can find Oliver Isaac helping out on a number of projects – “whatever needs to get done,” says Isaac, an electrical engineer on secondment from Magna IV engineering.

But on his days off, he trains and competes at the world-level in a fast-growing competitive winter sport called ice cross downhill. This extreme downhill skating event takes place on a walled track featuring sharp turns and high vertical drops. “Imagine a bobsled track, but wider and then put four skaters on the track, racing to the bottom,” explains Isaac.

Isaac entered into the sport four years ago. “I had played a lot of hockey growing up and I was pretty fast on skates. I saw a Red Bull Crashed Ice event on TV one day and thought it looked cool, I figured it was something I might be good at. I learned quickly that fast on flat ice does not necessarily translate to fast on curves and drops. Let’s just say my first event didn’t go so well.”

But Isaac was hooked none-the-less. He invested in quality rollerblades and started training at skate parks. Last year an indoor BMX bike park opened up in Edmonton, and between his studies at the University of Alberta, he was there honing his skill. 

As a junior in the sport, Isaac competed in 10 events, some smaller, local races, but also on some bigger tracks. He earned his way into four Red Bull Crashed Ice events, two in Europe (Finland and France) and two in North America (Minnesota and Ottawa).

Since graduating to the men’s category he has raced in Finland and St. Paul (Minnesota), and this past December was able to race in Yokohama (Japan).

“I wasn’t expecting to go to Yokohama. I was ranked 13th in Canada and ended up being offered a spot the week before the event. It was an incredible experience. It was the first time the sport had been run in Asia and I’m not sure the crowd quite knew what to make of it, but they certainly got into it.”

The season is short. Already in 2019 there have been Crashed Ice events in Russia (two), Finland and the U.S. (two). The last Red Bull event of the season took place in Quebec at the beginning of March. 

“This year I plan to concentrate on my training. I tend to fall behind with my technical skills. I want to spend a lot of time at skate parks skating. Working at Kearl actually gives me the time to do that. When I’m on rotation, I work on my fitness – cardio and weights. But just like anyone with a career, it’s hard to fit training in during the work week. With the ten-day-rotation, I actually get a lot more time to devote to my technical skating.”

Isaac joined the Kearl team in November, helping with critical spare parts management.

Photo credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

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