For the third consecutive year, the Red Bull Crashed Ice event has descended upon St. Paul. On Friday, the international field of skaters was reduced to 64 competitors for Saturday’s individual finals.
This year’s course includes a few new features. The first is an uphill jump that sends racers over an iceless gap to an upper plateau that will cause all sorts of crashes and collisions. Failure to cross the iceless gap is an almost guarantee to finish last in a heat. The second feature added this year is a 180-degree hairpin turn with a suspended punching bag smack dab in the middle. Racers must walk a thin line between turning close to the punching bag to maintain their position and skating too close to the bag that has the weight to knock skaters off balance, and again, potentially out of a race.
Friday’s crowds were no doubt considerably reduced due to the icy road conditions throughout the metro area. But the races, free to the public, still brought a steady stream of old and young alike to the downhill course. Friday’s races began with the International Shootout, which trimmed the individual competitors down to 64. The day concluded with team races which pitted teams of three against each other, and an aggregate score decided the winner as opposed to whichever team crossed the finish line first. The top American team finished in fourth place, while a team with individuals from Austria, Canada and Germany took the team championship.