It’s January 2001, Stockholm, Sweden. Athletes from around the world have flocked to the Swedish capital to compete in a new sport called Ice Cross Downhill and the Red Bull Crashed Ice race. Fast forward a decade to St. Paul, MN and we’ve helped develop a podium-worthy Team USA, bringing 130,000 people a brand-new kind of sporting experience.

BUILD A TEAM? WHY NOT BUILD A SPORT?

Red Bull approached us with the goal of developing a US team to compete in the international sport of Ice Cross Downhill Racing. Bringing the sport to the United States would legitimize it as the next big worldwide sporting event. We set our sights a little higher—aiming to not only put a team together, but to catapult the sport into the spotlight and create the marquee event of the World Championship circuit, all hosted in our backyard of St. Paul, Minnesota.

BRAND BUILDING, ONE ATHLETE AT A TIME

To put the sport on the map, as well as in the hearts of spectators, we focused on a few key pieces. First, we needed to find the athletes with an ability to beat the clock and turn heads—all in hopes that with the right development support they could compete for Team USA at Crashed Ice World Championship stops around the world.

Through eight qualifiers around the country, we selected and trained Team USA. Finding the best athletes to hit the Crashed Ice circuit took us to every corner of the United States. With stops in host cities for our National Qualifier Program, we had first hand exposure to hundreds of eager competitors. Through a series of training metrics and time trials at each stop, 100 competitors were selected to take to the ice in St. Paul. To expand the reach of our qualifiers we also ran an Online Wild Card Qualifier. Not only did Red Bull discover ten diamonds in the rough, but we spread the Crashed Ice story around the internet with content that mattered to people.

BRANDING A MOMENT IN TIME

The creative energy we built around the event was truly multi-channel. Knowing our work would have to be as striking and original as Crashed Ice itself, we built interest and hype on a local, personal level through a combination of paid media, non-traditional and experiential advertising. The result? An entire metropolitan area that knew where to be and when in order to experience the groundbreaking sport of Ice Cross Downhill.

ICE CROSS DOWNHILL IS LOOKING UP

Every year, the training advances, the athletes get faster and the sport carves out a little bit more space in the worldwide sporting market. Zero US athletes in the top 64 in 2012, four in the top 32 by 2014. It’s only a matter of time before the winner’s podium is completely red, white and blue. Not only did we build a team, we helped elevate awareness of Ice Cross Downhill in the US. With the lights shining bright, the crowds cheering and the city buzzing, Red Bull Crashed Ice has become a staple of Minnesota winters and the prime destination for the Crashed Ice World Championship Circuit.

Media credit: © Ryan Taylor/Red Bull Content Pool