Canadians opt for extreme form of ice skating

Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:54pm EST
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MONTREAL (Reuters) - Not content to simply play hockey on frozen ponds or waltz along canals that have turned to ice, some Canadians prefer to amuse themselves with a more extreme form of outdoor skating.

In Quebec City, skaters will hurtle through the city's historic quarter on a 535-metre (1,755-ft) track of ice that has steep drops and sharp turns resembling a bobsleigh run. For added fun, the track includes a series of washboard bumps.

Some 100 racers, wearing protective hockey gear, will compete over Friday and Saturday, with the C$5,000 prize going to the winner of a series of heats.

The third annual competition, sponsored by an energy drink company, comes as Quebec City, capital of the mainly French-speaking province of 7.5 million, celebrates its 400th anniversary.

Television footage of media personalities taking a crack at speeding down a short length of the steep track showed them mainly sprawling face forward or falling flat on their backsides.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

(Reporting by Robert Melnbardis; Editing by Rob Wilson)