When I was invited by RedBull to visit Edmonton and experience their ‘Crashed Ice’ event, I could hardly turn down the offer! So I rallied a team together, built a business case, and put us down to go and visit!
Two colleagues and I arose early on Friday morning for the short but beautiful drive down the Sea to Sky Highway to Vancouver Airport for our flight to Edmonton. As usual, I choose to fly Star Alliance, and so our flight was on Air Canada and took us over the fantastically snowy Rocky Mountains, arriving into very flat Edmonton an hour and a half later. A private car was waiting for us at the arrival area, and before long we were en route to The Westin Edmonton which would be home for the next couple of days.
The hotel was in an ideal location, just a stones throw from the Crashed Ice course and the Shaw Conference Center where we would be viewing the event from. After a quick and easy check-in with my SPG Gold membership, we became acquainted with a handful of the hotel staff – all of whom were fantastic, and a huge asset to The Westin.
Our first evening in Edmonton, RedBull treated us to a spectacular steak dinner at LUX Steakhouse. What a great venue! Steak aside, I think I ate my own bodyweight in Lobster Mac & Cheese. This was washed down with good wine and good cocktails, and followed up by a trip to BLVD Nightclub.
Saturday was event day, and kickstarted by a delicious breakfast put on by The Westin – all of the usual culprits of bacon & eggs, freshly prepared omelette, cereals, juices, and of course, a Caesar to add to the mix. For all your non Canadians out there, its like a Bloody Mary – aka. a morning vodka drink to get the day going. We had some time in the morning to explore, so we took a little walk in Edmonton but didn’t stray too far from the hotel. We’d heard great things about how large West Edmonton Mall is, so we took an Uber to check it out – primarily because we heard there was an indoor amusement park with a rollercoaster. Yup, there is was – even at 29 I had to give it a go. It was totally worth the trip.
We checked out a couple of bars near the event in the afternoon, including CRAFT Beer Market which had an amazing selection of beers, and Revel, which had some incredible food. The Brussels Sprouts were a hit, and you’ve got to ask the bartenders to show you the proper way to drink absinthe – it’s quite an art for! From there, it was onto the Shaw Conference Center where we would be attending the VIP Viewing Area for Crashed Ice.
Unsurprisingly, RedBull did not disappoint. The conference hall had been transformed into an epic Hospitality Suite, with RedBull bars throughout, and food stations each of which were serving a different variety of foods. The set up was great, and there as a viewing balcony for anyone brave enough to hangout outside in the cold.
If you’ve read this far and don’t know what Crashed Ice is, then you’re probably a little bit curious. Basically, it is one of RedBull’s many incredible Extreme Sports. In simple terms, it involves athletes careering down a long icy track on ice skates, whilst navigating features such as jumps, bumps, hairpin bends, and tight corners. If that’s not enough, rather than going down the track one at a time, athletes compete in groups of 4… so not only are you looking out for the features of the track, but you’re looking out for your competitors too. It’s pretty awesome to watch, albeit a little bit crazy!
Unlike some other RedBull events which I’ve been to, such as JoyRide in Whistler, the hospitality suite is not actually connected to the track, so whilst we had great viewing of the overall event, we did not have an up close view of what was going on. Instead, we had large TVs with commentary which we could follow. In some ways it would have been nice to have been right by the track, but in others – such as Formula 1, it is useful to be able to see the whole event televised. After lots of cheering, plenty of food and perhaps a couple too many Vodka RedBull’s, we were back to BLVD for the Crashed Ice Afterparty.
In all, I didn’t see a huge amount of Edmonton, but it was an excellent excuse to go and have some fun. Hanging out with the team from RedBull was awesome, and it is amazing to see how a company which started as a small Energy Drink has expanded into such an empire. The hospitality was on point throughout – the food, the drink, the accommodation, all of it – an outstanding first visit to Edmonton. The return Air Canada flight was a somewhat subdued affair, and there was definitely a couple of hefty hangovers on the plane one way or another!