Reporting Bill Hudson
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Even St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman can’t get enough Crashed Ice – he took to the course on Thursday.
The event’s competitive runs were delayed due to chipping, and started instead at 5 p.m. after some repairs.
One of the Minnesotans competing is Dan Hirtz of Eagan, who’s been training for months.
But long before he took to the ice, Hirtz was hitting a treadmill. Acceleration Minnesota has trained the best skaters around, and yet the extreme sport of ice cross brings it to another level.
“This is the best thing that mimics the ice, you get speed and balance,” he said.
And a lot of strength. Hirtz’s been tipping tractor tires and wrestling huge ropes. And on Thursday, he and 99 other U.S. skaters got a taste of the track.
“The biggest risk is the drop right away and just keeping balance,” he said. “So the drop is the most intimidating thing.”
They’ll hit 40 mph over unexpected bumps and cruel features. Hirtz says it’s a nasty hairpin turn half way down where you’ll see a lot of face plants.
“I feel confident, I feel comfortable,” he said.
Hirtz hopes all his training will help him survive through Saturday’s finals.
“The U.S. guys didn’t finish whole lot in the top spots (last year), so I hope there’s a lot better talent this year,” he said.
The elimination round will trim the number of skaters from 100 down to 32. The same number of international skaters will advance tomorrow.
Then on Saturday, to the delight of an expected 100,000 spectators, they’ll find out who win, better yet, who survives this very difficult course.