Fort St. John's Adam Horst hasn't had the best start to the Red Bull Crashed Ice season, but with two more races to prove himself and make up for his standings, the local firefighter is more determined than ever to place in the final events of the season.
He's even built his own ice cross downhill track in Charlie Lake to practice on.
"Last year I'd actually planned on building it, but we didn't get the weather that would work for it," Horst said on Monday. "We didn't get much snow and didn't get any cold weather."
"When I'm home I try to get out there as much as I can. I like to get on it three or four times a week for sure. It took me about a month to get it up and running, so between the first two races I spent most of my time building it as opposed to practicing on it."
Horst said the homemade track on his brother-in-law's property is one-third to one-half the length of the ones Red Bull uses for the Crashed Ice series, and is the largest "backyard" course of its kind.
"There was another guy who had one built in his backyard but it was pretty small scale," Horst said. "This is definitely the biggest backyard track that there is. After I posted a few videos of it a few started popping up, but most places don't have the weather or snow to maintain it."
"I sure hope [it makes a difference]. Getting as much practice as I have on an actual track, that feeling of skating on that kind of ice downhill, it all helps."
Horst left for Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday to compete in the fourth Crashed Ice race of the series. After placing fourth in the first race in Niagara Falls, Horst had some bad luck in the next two events in St. Paul, Minnesota and Landgraaf, Netherlands with 34th and 29th-place finishes. He's currently sitting in 14th place overall (out of 184) with 558 points, which he didn't sound too happy about.
"The first race went really well, the second was bad luck and just one of those things. I got tied up with someone who got in front of me and we both fell down and it ended up costing me the race. A bit of bad luck there," Horst said. "The Netherlands was just really bad. The ice was terrible, the event was terrible, and there were so many injuries that it was hard to get excited. A lot of the top guys ended up racing each other in the first round, so a lot went out right away out of the gate."
"It's hard to dwell on those two for the whole season, so going into Switzerland will be right back to where I started and I have the expectations to get back up there."
In Lausanne, Horst is looking forward to racing on a new track, one built based on technicality with more jumps and turns than others. The weather, however, can be an obstacle for some, as the forecast calls for temperatures between plus-2 and plus-2.
This tends to mean soft ice, but Horst is practically hoping for it.
"I think it's going to be a really fun track and a good event," he said. "This track will benefit me in ways that'll work in my favour. It says it's supposed to be from plus-2 to plus-7 so the ice could be really soft as well. Usually it ends up being a lot more skating because you don't carry much speed, and that benefits me since skating is my strong point."
"I feel good about going into this race. It's not that I didn't feel good about the last two, it just didn't work out for me."
One of Horst's biggest competitors this season is Derek Wedge. Wedge finished first in Landgraaf and currently sits in second overall behind Canadian Kyle Croxall. What makes Lausanne's race different is that it's Wedge's home track.
"Derek is from Switzerland. He's a freestyle ski instructor and he's always done pretty well. He's not a top-standout guy but he's always had consistent finishes because he's a really good jumper and he always stays on his feet," Horst explained.
"The key is to stay on your feet and I don't think he'll be a problem."
With some extra practice on his "backyard" track and a positive outlook on the fourth event of the 2013 Crashed Ice season, Horst believes he can get back up there in the standings and push hard for the final two races.
"The only thing I've really been trying to do [differently] is get more aggressive," he said. "I've got two races left and I've really got to try to shoot for it now because the last two races have put me behind in points a bit."
"I'll try to push myself even harder to get better results in these ones and carry some more through."
The Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Lausanne, Switzerland starts on Friday, March 1 with the Team Challenge qualifiers and finals followed by the World Championship races that will run Saturday, March 2.