Having soared down the frozen paths of competition, blanketed by the night sky and the bright lights that shine, aspects that have defined the adrenaline rush of Red Bull Crashed Ice, Team USA skater Amanda Trunzo is emerging as one of the first feel good stories of the 2017 season. Racing since 2012, where she finished fourth overall in her Crashed Ice debut, Trunzo’s competitive odyssey has involved a gradual rise to world class status.
One of the turning points in Trunzo’s career occurred last season, as 2016 saw her become part of Team USA. Despite a numerous series of valiant efforts to attain an elusive podium finish, she would be rewarded for her consistency and tenacity with her status as a world class competitor resulting in an eighth place finish in the Ice Cross standings. Such momentum has contributed towards an increased confidence in 2017, coupled by a pair of podium finishes in the first two races of the season.
“Last year finishing 8th overall in the world rankings was definitely a good finish but this season going into it my main focus was to get on that podium. Last year, I seemed to make it the semi finals race after race but could not seem to get to that final.
With the off-ice training I did this summer and being more confident as well as committing to every part of the course, I was able to get two podiums right off the bat which was a huge confidence booster.”
In the opening race of the women’s season, contested in Marseilles, France, Trunzo grabbed the second place finish, while defending world champion Jacqueline Legere (who also works as a stuntwoman) and fellow American Sydney O’Keefe placed third. Fellow finalist Myriam Trepanier captured fourth place, which added a unique aspect to the competition as all four finalists hold a background in women’s ice hockey. As a side note, Americans Maxwell Dunne and Cameron Naasz finished first and second in the men’s competition in Marseilles.
Of note, Trunzo and O’Keefe were both raised in the state of Minnesota, while Trepanier played her NCAA hockey with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Trunzo would earn an All-Ivy selection and compete for the US Under-22 national women’s ice hockey team while starring at Dartmouth. O’Keefe would compete with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, based out of Troy, New York.
Coincidentally, both Truzno and O’Keefe balance Crashed Ice competition while serving as coaches. Currently, Trunzo is on the coaching staff with St. Norbert College, returning to her NCAA roots, while O’Keefe is employed at the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s hockey academy in Faribault, Minnesota, working with the U16 team.
Gaining increased confidence, the following race saw Trunzo attain the milestone of an exciting first place finish, complemented by back-to-back podium finishes, another historic first for Trunzo. Joining her on the podium were a pair of European racers; second place finisher Camilla Ojapalo of Finland and Sandrine Rangeon from France, who obtained third place. O’Keefe reached the semi-finals, finishing seventh overall. Once again, fellow Americans Dunne and Naasz also enjoyed a podium finish, ranking second and third, respectively.
Riding the wave of momentum into Jyvaskyla-Laajis, Finland, the victorious pinnacle that she experienced for the first time in her Crashed Ice career has set a great precedent for Team USA women’s. Taking into account that the majority of victorious racers in the women’s circuit were Canadians and Europeans, the jubilation of first place reflects a significant accomplishment for Trunzo, becoming the first American woman to win a Crashed Ice race. In the aftermath of the victorious outcome, Trunzo was showered with both praise and a seemingly endless supply of Red Bull flowing down her raven black hair by a group of gracious competitors,
“My reaction when I came across that finish in Finland and knew I had one was just pure excitement. A lot of the other women as well as some of the USA men were right there to make that moment even better which I was truly grateful for. Never did I think I would be so excited to have water and red bull poured all over me!”
The triumphant result saw Trunzo sit atop the world rankings, an amazing story of perseverance that she hopes shall continue as the Crashed Ice season transitions to North America. In addition to the circuit making its debut in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, which adds to the country’s sesquicentennial festivities, the circuit returned to St. Paul, Minnesota on February 5, the city where the first Crashed Ice race took place in the United States.
Undoubtedly, the race in St. Paul held a strong emotional component for Trunzo. Raised in the state, there was a remarkable amount of friends and family cheering her on. Although a third-straight podium finish eluded her, the race confirmed her status as a competitor for the 2017 world championship, reaching the finals in the third straight event.
“I was super motivated to race in St Paul! Last year I did not compete the way I would have liked in my home state, so this year I (felt) that I had that edge, as well as searching for a 3rd podium finish in a row. To have a podium finish in front of my home crowd of 160,000 people as well as in front of friends and family who are driving and flying in from different parts of the country would have been unreal! It would truly have been indescribable.”
First place in St. Paul saw another women’s hockey component involved as Trepanier (who now calls Minnesota her home state) finished first, gaining her second career win. Sadie Lundquist and Tamara Kajah, who competed in women’s ice hockey for the University of British Columbia finished second and third, while Trunzo placed fourth. Despite the disappointment of narrowly missing another podium finish, there were still many positives for Trunzo to build upon. Still sitting first overall in the rankings for the world championship, Trunzo remains the racer to beat. Should the season finish with Trunzo becoming the first American-born player to capture the Red Bull Crashed Ice women’s championship, the finish in St. Paul shall be merely prologue towards greater moments, a source of motivation to reach unprecedented heights, which would be testament to her work ethic and dedication, while adding to a sense of history in a memorable season.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”