Is it really possible that it could be too cold for a group of well trained ice skaters to go flying downhill as fast as possible on what might seem like an oversized bobsled run?
Well, it wasn’t too cold for the Crashed Ice extreme skaters, but it was too cold for the ice. Apparently it was too brittle to skate on until the temps rose a bit, but after a brief delay the action was on. And, pretty wild action at that. Racing downhill at speeds approaching 60 kph sixty four competitors from the U.S., Canada and other countries around the world battled it out over a quarter mile long downhill ice cross course with twists, turns and heart-pounding drops to try to reach the finals.
Crashed Ice is a Red Bull sponsored event so you know it has to be spectacular. Not only spectacular, but free! And an unbelievable venue for a sporting event. Starting on a specially constructed tower, the extreme skaters fly off the starting ramp, take a drastic drop onto a straightaway that throws them at high speed into a ninety degree curve directly in front of the remarkably beautiful St. Paul Cathedral, followed by more twists and turns including a high-banked 180 degree turn just before the finish line.
With 115,000 spectators on the second and final night of the event it was impressive to see how quickly these new ice cross fans had adopted the hometown U.S. skaters and the Canadian skaters as well. Roaring approval with each downhill run and loudly cheering all the skaters for their daredevil performances the crowd really got into the event.
Downhill ice cross is a pretty easy event to follow – skate down the track as fast as you can and try to finish first. Sounds easy, but the course is fast, a bit treacherous in places and you also have to contend with the other skaters on the course. There are plenty of bumps and lots of falls. If one skater falls, two or three more may be tripped up in the process, but all leap back up and continue down the track. And, the finish can be pretty wild, with skaters diving or sliding to cross the line first.
For the observers, the cold is something to consider. Minnesotans are pretty much prepared for cold weather, but when it gets down into the single digits even they typically stay indoors at night. Visitors may be unprepared for several hours in sub-freezing weather so if you plan a visit to Crashed Ice you might want to think of it in terms of a skiing trip. It’s o.k. to wear your ski wear – lots of folks had on ski pants and parkas – I wore my ski pants and my down coat from my trek in the high Himalayas of Nepal and was pretty comfortable. So, break out your long underwear, maybe some heated socks and thick soled boots and enjoy the exciting night of high speed action.
Find yourself a great hotel, the St. Paul Hotel comes to mind, and you'll be close enough to the Crashed Ice venue to either walk or catch a shuttle. It's Winter Carnival time in St. Paul so there is a lot more to see and do in addition to Crashed Ice. If you're a fan of microbreweries you won't want to miss Beer Dabbler - an important part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.