Naasz, 23, said the construction of one permanent track in the United States might be all the sport needs to pick up steam. Whiting said the International Olympic Committee already has expressed interest in the sport and sent representatives to two races this past season.

"When you're drawing this many fans and you get national TV on every race, it's just a matter of time until it takes over," Whiting said.

The sport has traditionally attracted hockey players such as Whiting who already have the necessary skating skills to compete. But Papillon said the sport has recently began attracting different types of athletes, from skiers and mountain bikers to motocross racers and other extreme-sport enthusiasts.

Whiting, for example, has experience in skiing, kite surfing, speed flying, wakeboarding, scuba diving and bull riding, in addition to hockey. He says all extreme sports require you to face fears and remain mentally tough, and ice cross downhill is no exception.

"The whole mental component of all these sports, from hockey to bull riding to this, your mind is so important," Whiting said. "You got that figured out, that's 90 percent of the battle."

Baltimore summers aren't ideal for ice cross downhill training, but Whiting says he plans to prepare for next season by staying in shape, watching film of last season's races and practicing in skateparks. Whiting might also spend time at his turtle farm in southern Iowa, which he founded with a friend and which now accounts for half of his annual income.

Whenever Whiting does something, he goes all in — no matter how crazy it might sound.

"There's not too many opportunities in your life where you'll get to compete in a sport on an international level that could be in the Olympics in a few years," he said. "I'm going to work harder than any single guy in this and see where it gets me."

tschad@baltsun.com

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Watch it

Red Bull Crashed Ice: Quebec (taped)

When: Friday

Time: 8:30 p.m.

TV: NBC Sports Network