Luke “Aussie Crasher” Webb (Bachelor of Engineering ’14) worked as a metallurgical engineer in Queensland before becoming a full-time adrenaline junkie and the only Australian competing in the extreme winter sport Crashed Ice.
The Red Bull-backed sport, aptly called “the fastest sport on skates” involves sprinting towards the edges of sharp drop offs and crashing through purpose-built ice tracks constructed throughout major cities around the world.
Careering down a twisty, hilly track made of solid ice and built for pure speed Luke vies for the glory of being world’s best in a sport dominated by dare devils from snowier realms such as Finland, Canada and Austria.
Luke recently checked in from his new home in Canada…
How did you get involved in competing in Crashed Ice?
“I’ve played inline hockey since I was seven-years-old, and after progressing through ice hockey and eventually the more adventurous skate-park skating, it was only a matter of time until all of these skills combined in this extreme sport.
“To actually compete in Crashed Ice was a challenge – I had to travel for three days to the opposite end of the world to participate in a qualifying race, then I only had four 45-second runs to prove myself.”
What do you like about it?
“The fear it creates as you step up to the starting gates, the adrenaline rush once the start signal goes. There is something extremely addictive about flying through the air at full speed on ice skates while battling some of the best athletes in the world.”
Could you describe a typical event for us?
“The largest competition I have competed in was the 2016 Red Bull Crashed Ice final in St Paul Minnesota, USA. It was surreal to be there. Walking up the stairs to the start gate had me smiling ear to ear.
“At that point I encountered the hardest and scariest thing I have done on ice skates to date: a two-metre start sprint into a 5.5-metre blind drop into the first section of the track. This is the only time I have been genuinely scared.
“After a few words to myself I took that first step - which felt like running in cement skates - and there was no turning back.”
Are you Luke Webb engineering graduate, Masters student (on hiatus) by day, Aussie Crasher by night? How does ice crashing fit into your daily life?
“You only live once, so I’m on hiatus from my Masters studies, pursuing this while I can. Crashed Ice has fit well into my daily life – it has allowed me to have a constant goal to push towards, I’m living a healthier lifestyle and I’ve met some incredible, inspirational people.”
How is being an alumnus of UQ a positive thing for you?
“Being a UQ alumnus is a positive thing throughout any career. For me, it has helped me achieve career goals and helped push me further in life. Traveling around the world has really opened my eyes to how far the UQ alumni group extends how successful they are. Seeing this has really has confirmed that I made the right choice all those years ago as a scared and worried high school student.”
How do you train for this winter sport when you’re in Brisbane?
“Training for a winter sport in Brisbane was not as difficult as you’d think. Lots of training happens off ice: downhill racing (street luge and inline skating), lots of skate park practice to get used to being off balance on skates, building strength at the gym and plenty of healthy eating. Ice is required to practice a few essential aspects of the sport, obviously, but tackling the steep hills of Toowong on inline skates set me in good stead for the icy tracks in Canada.”
What are the risks of the sport?
“Besides the obvious crashes which do happen and can be catastrophic (St Paul race had torn shoulders, broken wrists, broken legs, plenty of cuts and bruises). There’s also the over-exertion injuries that can happen.
“A major risk of the sport is the freezing temperatures. A qualifying race in Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Canada saw race day temperatures of minus 38 degrees Celsius. So sitting around in protective gear that isn’t designed for warmth puts competitors at risk of cold burns.”
What are you doing now?
“I have thrown caution to the wind and sold everything I owned back in Brisbane and moved over to Canada. My dream is to see the sport be accepted as a winter Olympics event (in the works) and to compete for Australia. In the meantime, I am living the dream of training with some of the world’s best athletes while trying to gain international experience as a Metallurgical Engineer (my other passion) in Canada.”
Did UQ encourage you to pursue your dreams?
“My time at UQ has helped me pursue my dreams for both my career and my extreme sport aspirations in Crashed Ice. Meeting so many people that are full of passion in every aspect of life is really addictive. Hearing someone talk about their love for work and life really shows that you can do anything in the world and flourish.
“My time at UQ introduced me to some of the most influential people in my world and filled me with the drive to push myself to my limits.”
Luke is currently looking for sponsors so he can continue to pursue his Crashed Ice dreams. If you would like to support Luke, contact email@example.com