The ATSX Ice Cross World Championship series, shown above in 2020 at Le Massif de Charlevoix in Quebec, is coming to Maine for the first time in February at Lost Valley ski area in Auburn. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Marko

One of the newest extreme winter sports is coming to Maine next month when Lost Valley ski area in Auburn serves as only the second venue in America to host the ATSX Ice Cross World Championship Series.

The event, scheduled for Feb. 10-12, will bring together as many as 70 of the world’s top ice cross athletes – and offer newcomers the chance to try this fast-paced, challenging sport alongside them. A practice day on Feb. 9 will open the course to any novice racers who pay the $150 registration fee and sign a waiver to compete in the races.

Ice cross is similar to ski cross – the Olympic sport in which ski racers compete head-to-head down a steep hill while maneuvering twists, banked turns, jumps and drops. In this case, ice cross racers wear skates to navigate an ice-covered ski trail. Picture speed skaters padded in hockey gear racing down a steep sheet of ice, with four of them at once vying for the finish line. And, yes, sometimes they wipe out.

Unlike ski cross, ice cross is not yet an Olympic sport. The world governing body for ice cross, the All Terrain Skate Cross Federation (ATSX), was founded only in 2015. ATSX sets the rules for the downhill sport, while the U.S. Ice Cross Association builds the courses and runs the events in America.

Women, men and juniors (ages 15 to 21) compete in separate divisions in races held in Canada, Europe and the United States. In addition to the Lost Valley event, races in this year’s world championship series are in Austria, France, Finland, Quebec and Wisconsin.

At each event, multiple heats are held over two days to determine the four racers who will vie head-to-head for the title. At Lost Valley, the time trials that seed athletes for the finals will be on Friday. The finals on Saturday will use a tournament-style bracket where the top two racers advance from each heat until four are left – a format that gives new racers a chance to make the finals and gain valuable racing experience.


Racers accrue points throughout the seven-event series to determine the world champion. Many of the world’s top racers have sponsors that help pay their travel expenses, but there is no prize money.

“None of us do this as our day job. It’s a big passion, sometimes more of a hobby,” said U.S. Ice Cross Association President Kale Johnstone, who also races and is ranked 29th in the world.

The ATSX Ice Cross World Championship at Mont du Lac Resort in Superior, Wisconsin, in 2022 attracted hundreds of spectators. Craig Madsen / ATSX Ice Cross

While ice cross can be dangerous, serious injuries are rare, Johnstone said. Still, an ambulance is present at every U.S. race and helmets are required. Wrist sprains and breaks are not uncommon.

“It’s funny a lot of people are concerned about injuries. I had more injuries in hockey than ice cross, to be completely honest,” Johnstone said.

Johnstone, a native of Chicago, wanted to bring ice cross to Maine because he went to Hebron Academy and knows New Englanders love ice hockey. Last winter, he inquired at Maine ski areas if they wanted to host an ice cross race. Lost Valley, he said, was the quickest “to get to yes.”

Since then, Lost Valley has fielded calls from hockey enthusiasts across New England and Canada.


“We’ve been getting phone calls from up and down the East Coast,” said John Herrick, the Lost Valley general manager. “The last person was a lady from New Jersey who’s got three sons who are all hockey players. They are driving up for the race. The sons want to join in.”

The U.S. Ice Cross Association will send a four-person crew to Lost Valley two weeks before the race to build a roughly 1,500-foot-long track that is about 20 feet wide. The track will be shaped with a groomer then covered with freezing water over the course of several nights to create the hard ice surface.

After the designated day of practice on Thursday and two days of ice cross races, the event also will feature “kids cross” on Sunday. The association will pair up seasoned ice cross racers with children to guide them down a lower-level course.

“I know it sounds crazy, but the kids are usually more fearless than the people racing,” said Suzanne Driscoll, a 28-year-old ice cross racer from Yarmouth.

Driscoll, who grew up playing hockey and now plays in a men’s league in Falmouth, is ranked 24th in the world among female ice cross racers. She believes other hockey players in Maine will be drawn to the thrill and excitement of ice cross once they see the sport.

Suzanne Driscoll of Yarmouth will be one of at least 70 experienced racers who will compete next month at Lost Valley. Michelle Slark photo

“It’s definitely a lot of adrenaline. It’s kind of like a roller coaster,” Driscoll said. “The scariest one I think was in Fenway Park (in Boston). You took three strides and then dropped into a half pipe, it was kind of like stepping off a cliff. You hope for the best. You just take it feature by feature, just drop in and go for it.”


Driscoll first saw ice cross on television a decade ago. She began researching the sport. Finally she traveled to Quebec to compete in a race in 2018. The next year, she went to Wisconsin to race. That same year, she raced down the high-flying race course built six stories high on scaffolding in Fenway Park.

“It was one of the coolest experiences. It was crazy,” Driscoll said.

The key in ice cross, Driscoll said, is to let your comfort level dictate your speed. If you need to break, then break. The ice is like the ice in pond hockey – it’s rutted and covered with divots. Practice runs allow racers to find the pits and snags. Officials usually spray paint the deep ruts blue to help avoid wipe outs. Wearing hockey pads and a helmet definitely helps.

“Everyone told me to look up ahead of you not down at what’s in front of you. Keep your toes up higher and look ahead. That helped,” Driscoll said.

The Lost Valley race will be free for spectators. The other ATSX ice cross race in the United States – in Wisconsin – is also free to attend.

“We want to pack the place,” Johnstone said. “I’d love to keep it there. I love that area.”

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