Last week, on a small lake 30 minutes outside of Ottawa, something special happened.
Robin Worling, Econ ’19, and a few of his buddies had been doing their usual bit of training on their homemade ice track when they decided to film a stunt they came up with just a few days before: dunking on a basketball net after jumping a 25-foot gap.
“I’d done that line a million times,” Worling told The Journal. “I’d [jumped that gap] multiple times.”
“Once I had the basketball in my hands, it was really just a case of sending it.”
Clad in a number 10 Raptors jersey—commemorating Raptors great DeMar DeRozan—Worling set off.
Five attempts later, he did it.
Less than six hours after posting the video last Thursday, it went viral.
Garnering over three million views on Tik Tok and 20,000 likes on his Instagram, Worling’s video was immediately picked up by the likes of ESPN, TSN, Barstool Sports, and countless news outlets in Canada and the US, where it received millions more likes and a common reaction: Is this for real?
Befittingly, it was also put up on the jumbotron at the next Raptors game, and if that wasn’t enough, the video also received praise from an enclave of professional athletes, including Cleveland Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. and former Raptors shooting guard Terrence Ross.
Nearly a week later, the buzz is still going strong, and The Journal was able to sit down and chat with Worling about his experience performing what has become internationally known as “The Ice Dunk.”
Throughout the conversation, he spoke at length about his love for sport, his desire to push his limits in stunts, as well as the vocation that made him and his buddies build that ice track in the first place: Ice Cross Downhill, or as most know it, “Red Bull Crashed Ice.”
Musing about his fifth attempt—the successful one—Worling confessed he didn’t actually know he dunked the ball until a couple of seconds after he did it.
“I didn’t have a clue,” he said.
Nor did he have any idea how quickly the video was going to blow up. After posting it Thursday morning, he noticed that the video got less traction on Tik Tok than his usual content.
“But that’s Tik Tok,” he said. “Nobody really understands how that platform works.”
It was only after he returned to his phone after teaching a tennis lesson that he saw it was inundated with messages, mentions, and notifications of the video’s virality.
Although most people would be happy with such exposure, it was particularly welcome for Worling, who has been trying to build his social media presence—posting similar videos, vlogs, and pictures on Instagram—for the past year.
Hoping to use the excitement as a way to bolster his Instagram page and YouTube channel, Worling plans to continue putting out content like this in the near future. He even spoke about his specific plans to follow up the Ice Dunk with some similarly outrageous stunts.
“Maybe we’ll get some alley-oops in there,” he said.
An additional idea sees Worling and his cohorts cutting a giant hole out of the ice and jumping that, too.
Another benefit brought by the Ice Dunk’s exposure has been Worling’s chances of snagging sponsors when the next season of Ice Cross Downhill comes around. Commonly known as “Red Bull Crashed Ice,” Ice Cross is a sport where contestants race each other down long and winding ice tracks on hockey skates.
Photo by Andreas Langreiter
Worling started competing four years ago when he was a third-year at Queen’s. He’d always seen the sport advertised on TSN but was never old enough to enter the competitions due to their minimum age requirement.
That all changed in the winter of 2017 when Crashed Ice opened up its junior category. As soon as he heard about it, he immediately filled out an application and was accepted for the final race of the season, which was taking place in Ottawa, his hometown.
While he didn’t finish anywhere near the podium, Worling said it didn’t matter. He was hooked.
Fast forward to 2021, Worling is now ranked ninth in the world and has competed in races in Canada, the US, the UK, France, Austria, Russia, and Japan—just to name a few. He also nabbed his first medal last year, beating out 95 other contestants in a race in Rautalampi, Finland.
Despite all this, Worling remained nonchalant. For him, he’s just doing what he loves—playing sports and competing against people who share the same passion for Ice Cross that he does.
Nevertheless, he stressed one thing in particular he wishes more people would know.
“Anyone can sign up and participate for any race except for the top tier,” he said.
As he went on to explain, Icecross.org lets anyone create a profile and see listings for upcoming races.
“There’s a ton of opportunities to just even try the sport,” he said, fighting back a grin, “You just have to travel a little bit to get there.”
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