Forward Callum Boyd will be back in action for Edinburgh Capitals this weekend after experiencing the thrills and spills of this year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice World Tour.
Boyd returns to the Caps line-up for their only game of the weekend at home to Sheffield Steelers on Sunday.
The 21-year-old was absent last week as he was achieving a best-ever finish of 46th in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to qualify for the final 64 in a sport known officially as Ice Cross Downhill, where athletes hurtle themselves down steep tracks, reaching speeds of 45mph.
Asked to describe the event, Boyd said: “It’s like a downhill ski slope on ice, and you go down it in your skates.
“You can either make tracks on natural ice formed on the ski slopes like they do in Finland (where Boyd will compete in Helsinki next weekend), or they can be man-made like it was in Saint Paul, where they add a lot more jumps and drops which made it a lot harder to complete. I just love the rush it gives you. When you’re flying down that track it feels like your heart is pumping at a million miles an hour.”
Boyd, now in his second year on tour, won a sponsorship package to compete by coming first in a qualifying event held at Murrayfield Ice Rink back in 2013, and admitted that, after entering the competition with a friend “for a laugh”, he had no idea what he’d won.
Boyd explained: “I found out about the event through my friend who saw it advertised on Facebook and we thought it looked like a great laugh and we’d give it a go. They set up the rink like a race track with some obstacles to duck under and jump over. We had a great day and I managed to win. I thought I might get a wee trophy or something but then I got pulled aside and told I was going on this world tour and I was like, ‘what?’. I couldn’t believe it. I thoroughly enjoyed the day at Murrayfield but thought that would have been the end of it.”
The World Tour consists of four stops spread between January and March with up to 200 competitors taking part in each event. In his debut season, Boyd finished the tour in 59th place and sponsors Red Bull were so pleased with how he’d done they offered him the same package this year.
Boyd, who along with fellow Scot, Haydn Bain, is one of only two British skaters on tour, continued: “Red Bull are amazing. They pay everything for us. Our manager said we had both done well given that it was our first year doing it and that they would sponsor us again this year.
“Next year’s been talked about too, but I’ll need to keep improving for that to happen. I’m hopeful of qualifying for the last 32 in a couple of the races. Especially the stop in Belfast, because with it being so near I’m looking to go over early and get some extra training on the track which will make a big difference”
Boyd, who missed Capitals’ two fixtures last weekend, including their first win in 11 games against Hull Stingrays, could miss up to six more matches because of his Crashed Ice commitments. Boyd revealed Capitals, the club he joined from Scottish National League side Kilmarnock Storm at the beginning of the season, have been very supportive.
“The club are fine with me doing this,” he said. “They realise it’s a great opportunity for me and have been really supportive, and my team-mates love it. They couldn’t believe it when I told them I was going away to do this. They think the tracks we go down are crazy but they’re all desperate to have a go. I’ve been back training this week and hopefully I’ll be in the line-up for the game against Sheffield on Sunday. I’m buzzing to get back to playing some hockey.”