Reporting Rachel Slavik
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Some call it the ultimate test of skating ability, others call it crazy. The Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships kicked off Thursday in St. Paul.
It’s a sight that can’t be ignored, a solid track of ice that snakes its way from the St. Paul Cathedral to College Avenue.
“It’s cool. It’s exciting when anything this big comes to Minnesota,” said Maggie Rassett, of St. Paul.
But it’s what happens on that course that captures all the attention.
“I’d do that in a heartbeat,” said Paul Schultz, who plans to watched the Crashed Ice event.
Red Bull’s Crashed Ice World Championship is St. Paul’s official introduction to the world of ice cross racing.
“Ice Cross is a mix between ice hockey and downhill racing,” said Claudio Caleori, an ice cross coach.
And in a state that’s known for producing great ice skaters, it was only natural that many competitors come from Minnesota.
“I’ve been a hockey player for years,” said Reid Johnson, a competitor in Crashed Ice.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come out and do something crazy in your hometown,” echoed Joe Woodworm, a rookie competitor.
Johnson, of Brooklyn Park, and Woodworm, of Roseville, are both experiencing ice cross racing for the first time. Athletes compete in groups. The goal is to stay on your feet and reach the bottom, first, with the fastest time.
The 1,100 feet long course is full of turns and jumps, which is difficult for even the most experienced skater.
“This track, in general, is probably the most difficult one we’ve ever had,” said Caleori.
“I don’t think there’s any way to prepare for anything like this,” said Woodworm.
Face plants and falls are guaranteed over the three-day event.
“Hardly anyone has made it through practice without a crash. We’ll see a lot of action on Saturday,” said Caleori.
Some of the spills are minor, others are more serious. One competitor broke his leg during practice.
“This, I think, would be fun to try. You might get hurt, might not get hurt, but you have to give it a try,” said Schultz.
Competition hasn’t even begun and fans are already learning that ice cross puts on quite the show.
The event is free and open to the public. There will be also be a premier viewing area where food and drinks will be available. That will cost you $15.