By John Lauritsen


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Red Bull Crashed Ice will take place this weekend in St. Paul, with more than 120,000 fans expected to watch.

Athletes from around the world will be competing. Training for this event can be hard to come by, which is why Monticello resident Joe Schaffer created what he calls the only training track in North America — right on his farm.

“There’s nothing to prepare you for this coming off of flat ice. Nothing like it,” said Teddy Cheesebrough, a Crashed Ice veteran.

Schaffer himself first did Crashed Ice in 2012 in St. Paul.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I was shaving and having a bowl of cereal, reading the newspaper, and it said, ‘You don’t have to be crazy, but it might help,'” Schaffer said.

He was crazy enough to try it then, and just as crazy to build his own course at home.

The 700-foot course starts in Schaffer’s backyard, weaves around his house and ends in his front yard.

“Like a 700-foot ice sculpture,” Schaffer said. “Work on it every night, we can. A lot of guys help water it no matter how cold it gets.”

It took Schaffer five years to create the mini-replica of the St. Paul course. He used plywood and lumber — and parts of past courses — to create ramps, jumps and slopes.

It has helped Cheesebrough, an assistant hockey coach at Centennial, recruit former hockey players turned college students.

“I’m sure hockey coaches aren’t going to want to send players into this mayhem, two weeks before playoffs,” Cheesebrough said. “But I know who I’m going to send is a bunch of guys who played for years.”

Crashed Ice skater Ryan Meany says the course was quite intimidating at first.

“When we first got here, we were looking at bumps and jumps, thinking, ‘No way, Jose. Not doing this,'” Meany said. “Then we started practicing a bit, went over the jumps and got used to it.”

Team USA skaters have also come out to Schaffer’s farm to practice on his course.

John Lauritsen

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