Ivan Babikov is going to Wipeout in Argentina.
No, he’s not competing in an early-season World Cup—the 30-year-old Canadian departed yesterday for a week-long stint in South America to compete on the TV show of that name, in which participants navigate a series of obstacles in the hopes of winning the $50,000 winner’s prize. Hazards in the American version of the show include a wall that punches athletes as they climb along it, and spinning pitchforks.
Babikov is competing in a new season of the show that features Canadian athletes. Biathlete Robin Clegg will also participate.
Most World Cup athletes—if not all of them—might hesitate to hop on a flight to South America just over a month before the start of the season. All of them, that is, except for Babikov.
“He’s one of a kind—there’s no denying that,” said his teammate Devon Kershaw. “Travel doesn’t affect Ivan…he’s still probably going to go win the uphill climb on the Tour [de Ski], and medal on the World Cup.”
Babikov auditioned for the show back in July, and he’ll spend seven days in Argentina for the filming. In an interview from the airport, he said he’ll stay active with some running and strength sessions—but after a tough camp with the Canadian National Team in Utah, he didn’t pack his rollerskis.
As for what National Team Head Coach Justin Wadsworth thinks? Especially given that Babikov injured his ribs earlier this summer in a soccer game?
“He was maybe a little bit worried, but…he’s okay with it,” Babikov said.
Kershaw, though, wasn’t concerned, and he said he liked his teammate’s chances to walk away the winner.
“I think he’ll win that 50 grand, because he’s a pretty agile little dude, and it’ll be hilarious,” Kershaw said. “He won’t hurt himself.”
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.