BOSTON — Thomas Missert, a 25-year-old photographer and house painter who first moved to Laconia when he was in elementary school, had to beat out a field of competitors in order to earn a spot in the lineup at Fenway Park last night.
No, Missert wasn't suiting up for the Red Sox. Rather, he was taking part in Red Bull’s Crashed Ice series, a world tour for the sport of ice-cross downhill. The sport challenges skaters, four at a time, to sprint down a course that features steep drops, jumps, hairpin corners and undulations. It has a fanbase in Canada and northern Europe. But by hosting the event in Boston’s iconic Fenway Park and holding open tryouts in the Northeast, Red Bull is hoping its extreme skating event will catch on here.
Missert, a hockey player who also has experience building park features for skiers and snowboarders, figured he might have the abilities necessary to excel at the sport. He attended one of the three open tryouts, which sent skaters through an obstacle course on a hockey rink. Missert finished in the top eight, which earned him a chance to attend the final tryout, which was held at Loon Mountain on a frozen course built on one of the ski slopes.
Of the 24 men and 24 women who qualified for the Loon competition, only the fastest skater of each gender earned a chance to skate at Fenway and test their skills against the sport’s pros. Those top finishers were Katie Guay, of Massachusetts, and Laconia’s Missert.
Just what did they earn? A representative of Red Bull said Missert isn’t guaranteed anything beyond a “wild card” entry to compete on the course, which starts out seven stories above the right field bleacher seats, then races through a series of corners, bumps and jumps to first base, and then circles second and third base before heading to the finish line at home plate.
But there might be more on the line than just experience, as memorable as it will be. Missert said that some of the behind-the-scenes organizers at Red Bull suggested to him that he might be invited to other Crashed Ice competitions if he performs well in Fenway. And there’s precedent, as The Boston Globe reported that U.S Team member Michael Iulianello got his start as a wild card competitor like Missert. Iulianello, who has been competing since 2014, is currently ranked ninth in the world.
In his preliminary time trial run in the afternoon, Missert – one of two rookies competing at the event – finished 82nd out of 96 racers.
Missert – like half of the racers in the first round – was eliminated in his heat in the evening in the round of 64.