Extreme cold delays Crashed Ice competition

CHAO XIONG | Updated 1/24/2013

Red Bull's Crashed Iced extreme skating race returned to St. Paul Thursday, but it's - get this - too cold for this afternoon's competition.

David Joles

Red Bull's Crashed Iced extreme skating race returned to St. Paul Thursday with an inaugural run by Mayor Chris Coleman and two City Council members. (Read our cover feature here.)

The event at the Cathedral of St. Paul drew modest crowds its first morning as Coleman, Melvin Carter and Chris Tolbert took several turns on the icy course's hills and turns. Coleman, who wiped out last year, expertly navigated an early portion of the track.

"This is the coolest thing ever," said Coleman. "I wasn't quite as afraid of what I faced" this year.

But after the pols finished their runs, organizers announced that the start of Thursday afternoon's competition would be delayed for several hours. The reason: It's too cold for the ice.  The track was chipping in the extreme cold, and they needed time to make some fixes.

The event drew an estimated 80,000 spectators last year, and Coleman said he expects an equal if not larger turnout this year. It coincides with the Winter Carnival, which kicks off this week.

After several runs, Coleman, Carter and Tolbert also climbed close to the 48-foot high starting line. They also skated a more challenging portion of the 1,850-foot long track that involved a straight drop, about three feet, that took out Coleman and Tolbert. Carter successfully landed the drop.

"No broken bones is a success," Tolbert said.

The National Shootout, where 100 U.S. athletes compete to qualify for the International Shootout and Elimination Round, is today at 5 p.m. (It was originally scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. but it has been delayed because of the chipping on the track.)

The International Shootout is 12:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday with 100 international athletes and 32 U.S. athletes racing. The Elimination Round also takes place Friday. Athletes race four at a time, with the top two advancing to finals.

The Team Challenge, new this year, is 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday. The top 64 world-ranked athletes will compete.

Finals are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, gates opening at 5 p.m.

The event is free.

Thousands of athletes across the country competed to qualify to race in St. Paul.

For parking and other information, visit www.stpaul.gov/crashedice.