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Ice canoeing, the brutal sport you never knew existed

Canoeing through a river with expansive chunks of ice in your way may not seem like the best means of transportation, but once upon a time that was the only way to cross the Saint Lawrence River during the winter.

Fast forward to 2017 and ice canoeing is a popular sport. In Quebec they even have their own association: the Association de Canot a Glace de Quebec, also known as ACCGQ. There are several annual races but one of the most popular events takes place at Quebec City's Carnaval de Quebec, which is the largest winter carnival in the world. More than 40 teams converge on the Saint Lawrence River to see who will come out on top.

See the frosty event below:

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Ice Canoe racing
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Ice Canoe racing
REFILE - CORRECTING DATE A member of Team Chez Victor falls in the water while competing during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Canoers compete during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Canoers compete during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Team Latulipe competes during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Team Police de Quebec compete during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Canoers compete during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Team PMT Roy competes during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Team RBC Banque Royal competes during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
REFILE - CORRECTING DATE A member of Team Cuisina falls in the water while competing during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
REFILE - CORRECTING DATE A member of Team Cuisina climbs back in the canoe after falling in the water while competing during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
A member of Team Chez Victor falls in the water while competing during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Team La Capitale celebrates after winning the men's elite division Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Team Optimum competes during the Ice Canoe race at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
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Each team will face strong currents and bone-chilling temperature's on the quest for first place. The participants must cross the river starting in Quebec City and touching down in Levi, only to cross the river once more to finally end the race at their original starting point.

The race is the main event of the 17 day carnival. While this event draws quite the crowd the Saint Lawrence River is the only place in the world where this grueling sport is practiced.

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