For all of Boston’s sports heroes through the years, few have actually come from the local area or grown into their fame from working an office job.
Yet a pair of wild-card entries will have a chance to make a name for themselves at Red Bull’s “Crashed Ice Boston” event, which will take place at Fenway Park On Feb. 8-9. The two amateurs will join a field of professional skaters racing down a seven-story tower built in the famous ballpark as part of the relatively new sport of ice cross downhill.
Red Bull will select one female and one male skater following a competition on Saturday at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire on a winding 600-foot downhill skating course complete with sharp turns and drops. The setup will take place next to the ski area’s Seven Brothers chairlift.
The field of 48 was determined from two tryouts held in Boston and one last month in Buffalo. Participants were put through an obstacle course on a skating rink, with the fastest qualified for the race at Loon.
Those, however, conspicuously lacked the downhill component of actual ice cross downhill. And many of the top skaters who will be at Loon not only have no experience in the real thing, most haven’t skated downhill in any capacity.
“I mean I can skate, and I can snowboard, so maybe that gives me an edge?” reasoned Watertown resident Samantha Sutherland. “I think the most important thing is to lean forwards and not backwards. I think that will be my biggest goal to remember.”
Sutherland, a former Boston University hockey player, is living back in the Boston area after playing professionally in Italy. The British Columbia native found out about the event through a coworker and tore through the qualifier using mostly borrowed gear.
“Except for my skates,” Sutherland adds. Her time (23.51 seconds) through Red Bull’s course was one of the fastest by any of the female skaters across all three tryouts.
The office worker turned downhill skater aspect is a dominant narrative. Julia Mastrototaro, also a former college hockey player, helped prepare for the qualifier on her lunch break.
“Went down to the local rink, set up two tires and dove around a little bit,” said Mastrototaro after notching one of the better times on Dec. 9. “I timed myself just to see how fast I could be.”
Her training challenge was slightly different from those of the professionals.
“There was one guy who kept getting in my way at the rink,” Mastrototaro explained. “I was just like, ‘Come on, just let me do this.'”
The course at Loon will be on another level. Most are simply trying to enjoy the experience while simultaneously focusing on the goal of making it to Fenway Park.
“It’s actually funny because I’ve been snowboarding since I was nine, and just this last year I decided to go back to skiing,” said Ryan Lessard of Marlborough, Massachusetts. “So it’s been a while since I faced forward going down a mountain. This will be a pretty interesting experience going down a mountain on skates.”
And doing it at Fenway will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the two winners at Loon.
“Definitely the entire BU hockey team would be there yelling,” said Sutherland.
“I think it would be unreal,” said Mastrototaro. “I mean, you think about Fenway. I’ve been going to the games since I was a kid, the field always seems so distant and far away. To be up there in front of all those people would be pretty cool.”