JoJo Velasquez crowned Junior Red Bull Crashed Ice champion in Boston

Written by Daniel Ortelli 9 February

The 18-year-old American was in unstoppable form on home soil to earn his first ice cross downhill title

American rider Johanny “JoJo” Velasquez sealed his first ever world title in ice cross downhill by winning the final of the Junior race, in style, at Red Bull Crashed Ice in Boston, in front of his family and friends. He was followed by Frenchman Martin Barrau and Japanese skater Toma Yamauchi.

Velasquez’s last two rivals for the title, Frenchman Théo Richalet-Chaudeur and Finland’s Joni Saarinen, the winner in Jyväskylä last week, finished 4th and 5th respectively on Friday night, in front of many happy spectators who braved the cold to enjoy this first ever ice cross downhill race in a stadium.

“It feels amazing, I’m super pumped,” Velasquez said in the finish area of Fenway Park, after receiving the winner’s ring in the great tradition of North-American sport. “I was super confident, this is my type of track. I’ve trained so hard for this, and you don’t get this kind of opportunity often in your life, so I’m here to live it to the fullest.”
“This is so special. I have my family and friends out there, so this is phenomenal,” added the new world champion before heading for the podium in front of his supporters, who held white cardboard letters for ‘JoJo’ all night. Velasquez begins a new chapter following two years of dominance by Finnish young gun Mirko Lahti, who has moved up to the men’s category after winning the first two Ice Cross Downhill Junior titles.

The 18-year old had started his campaign on a high, by winning in Yokohama (Japan) for the first Red Bull Crashed Ice race of 2018/2019. He then took the laurels in Igora (Russia) and finished 4th in Jyväskylä, after a race incident and a disqualification in the final. He knew that he could be crowned by winning in Boston, and that’s exactly what he did, although his semi-final was not that easy, after two smooth runs in the Round of 32 and the quarter-finals.

In addition to Saarinen and the very consistent Richalet-Chaudeur, another regular customer on the Junior podium this winter, Velasquez also had to beat fellow Frenchman Martin Barrau, the extreme skater from Cirque du Soleil. Encouraged by his win in the Freestyle event on Friday, minutes before the Junior competition started, Barrau was tired but he proved a tough nut to crack for Velasquez and finished a worthy second behind the newly-crowned world champion.
“What a night for me,” said Barrau. “I could have beaten JoJo tonight, but he chose the best starting gate in the final and then I made a small mistake. We were close. I have so many races in my legs, I climbed so many stairs today, I am completely worn out but I am happy,” the Frenchman added.
There are two races left for the Juniors this season, but Velasquez now has 2,500 points to his name and cannot be caught by Saarinen (2,050 pts) or Richalet-Chaudeur (1,700 pts).

Boston Results, Juniors:

  1. Johanny Velasquez (USA)
  2. Martin Barrau (FRA)
  3. Toma Yamauchi (JPN)
  4. Théo Richalez-Chaudeur (FRA)
  5. Joni Saarinen (FIN)
  6. Derek Abrahamson (USA)
  7. Skyle Diamond-Burchuk (CAN)
  8. Valentin Dufour (SUI)
  9. Egor Tutarikov (RUS)
  10. Arthur Richalet-Chaudeur (FRA).