2023 ice storm recap
The second annual Ice Storm drone racing competition was even better than the first!
This year we introduced our Student Team Races to the schedule, and it’s unclear which race the pilots enjoyed more! We also reached record attendance for the weekend due to the massive amount of news coverage we received throughout the weekend.
Thursday afternoon, we waited patiently for the Pettit doors to open, then spent about half an hour discussing the game plan. Thanks to our incredible volunteers from the local chapters, we were set up well before the 10:00 pm deadline! Once the last hockey practice was over, we slid the gates into place and left the building camera-ready for the 6:30 am news coverage the following day.
walk the walk
While a few of our pilots dropped in on Thursday to say hi and help set up, Friday was the day we welcomed all 68 of our Ice Storm pilots to the Pettit with a super soft peach hoodie.
Once everyone was checked-in and had claimed their workspace in the pit, it was time for the track walk! Roger Bess from MultiGP took everyone through the course, describing where to go low, when to go high, and introduced them to this year’s tunnel of doom. Pilots had their practice heats, then moved on to money heats where nearly everyone won some cash!
Saturday was when things started to get serious for qualifying races, and this year we added a little halftime show to break the tension; the Student Team Races! MMS students and their coaches, Greg Sukowaty and Tadd Eells, have been working hard since January 2023 to prepare for the race by building their quads, practicing in the simulator, and flying. Not only was this their first ever race, but it was also against college-aged students! No pressure.
Three MMS teams went up against the Carroll University Pioneers, but Joaquin and Saif from MMS Quad Riders 1 came out on top, winning each of their heats and the chase the ace. Obviously, we were thrilled that the students’ hard work paid off and they won the race. But the real treat of this race was seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces as they won their heats, and even sometimes when they didn’t!
A few of the pro pilots nominated themselves to be spotters/mentors for the students as well, helping them get their quads race-ready, giving them tips on the course, and pumping them full of confidence. Seeing our pro pilots helping our students and being invested in the outcome of the race was incredibly heartwarming, as well as a reminder of why we love working with the MultiGP community! Each pilot we’ve encountered has been kind, generous, and more than willing to help us on our drone racing journey.
Sunday was the big day, and the mood had shifted to be a bit more serious as we embarked on the final races. Here’s the exhilarating recap from the MultiGP team:
“For the Tiny Trainer class, there was no shortage of twists and turns during the TOP 16 finals. We began with the preliminary races that saw two crashes by the number 1 and number 3 seeds, Amari and HajunFPV, both of whom finished in third place and were forced to the torturous path of the consolation bracket. Amari would leave the bracket for good only two races later, in Race 10, due to another crash on the second lap.
By contrast, linear and clean was the race for Enginair and The Milkman, who made it to the finals by going through the winner’s bracket and placing first and second respectively in Race 11, the winner’s bracket semifinal. Race 11 sent Fireserpent and Dreamz to the consolation bracket.
Dreamz battled and made it to the final four, while Fireserpent lost to an irrepressible Ethan FPV, undoubtedly the pilot who achieved the best result with respect to his qualifying seed, finishing third on the podium, a huge leap from the 14th position of the qualifying. The final saw the absolute dominance of Enginair followed by The-Milkman, for both rounds of the chase the ace.
The Open Class TOP 16 finals were just as hard fought although Michan Kim’s dominance was undisputed, from start to finish, securing him a spot in the final four.
A good performance by Propsicle landed him a seat at the finals by passing through the winner’s bracket, while Hyper and Noical both had to face the consolation bracket semifinals. Hyper suffered a defeat in the winner bracket semifinals, while Noical suffered a crash in the first lap of Race 3. Noical almost completed his masterpiece and historic comeback in Race 1 of the Final Four, taking advantage of a collision between MCK and a gate. In fact, Noical remained in the lead throughout the final race, but the South Korean champion managed an epic comeback to cross the finish line with a photo finish, with a gap of only 7 tenths of a second. Since MCK reached the final race as Top Qualifier, a 1st place finish in all his brackets, AND winning the first race of the Final Four, he was crowned champion due to the Iron Man clause!
‘This year was like hardest race ever. I thought it was over, I saw Noical just passed me, Hajun told me that Hyper and Prospicle were down, so I thought I had at least second place, and I tried to push hardest as I can and I passed Noical at last gate and I can’t still believe it.’ These words directly from the two time Ice Storm champion MCK FPV after the race, when interviewed by Joe Scully asking which victory was better, last year or this year.
So again, a special thank you to MMS (Milwaukee Montessori School) for believing in the sport of drone racing and bringing this event to the world stage. Congratulations to all pilot participants and thank you to all MultiGP volunteers and staff for making this great event possible. Thanks to Joe Scully for being an amazing commentator and race director at the same time, to Doug Kling for the great live stream coverage, and the whole executive team: Chris Thomas, Roger Bess, Clare Cannizzaro, Michelle Brooks, Mark Grohe, Henry Moizo, and Mark Huff and everyone who helped.”