Reporting Edward Moody
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It was a late start Thursday on opening day of the Red Bull Crashed Ice trials.
Organizers said it was so cold the ice started cracking after morning practice runs.
The time trails, which officials pushed back to 5 p.m., started with 100 Americans competing for the chance to race on Saturday.
But those who raced – and those who watched – didn’t seem to mind the cold.
“It’s fast. It’s cold. It’s Minnesota,” said Adam Shunk, a fan. “What else is there to do?”
Beginning at the 48-foot high starting line, skaters from all over the country reached speeds as high as 40 mph as they slid down the track. A drop off and a wicked turn were some of the course’s highlights.
“It’s tough. The ice conditions are really rough, and it’s fast,” said Steve Brudzewski, a competitor from Phoenix, Ariz.
Fans watched as the skaters flew by, and fell.
“We saw one guy come off this jump here, and land flat on is butt and slide all the way down,” said Abbie Dittman, a spectator.
The top 32 skaters from the U.S. will move on to elimination rounds this weekend in which they’ll face off against international skaters.
Some of the U.S. skaters were just fans last year.
“When I came out last year, I looked up at the big hill and just said ‘I gotta do this next year,’” said Paul Westmark of Appleton, Wis.
And with weekend crowds expected to be in the tens of thousands, odds are that some fans will make their way down the hill next year.
“Growing up in Minnesota, you always play hockey,” said Andrew Tolzmann, a fan. “It’s just like going to the terrain park on my skis.”
With a warm up on the way, the hope is that everything will run on time this weekend.
There are several street closings around the Cathedral starting Friday, and traffic is expected to be packed. So get to the event early if you can.