This Weekend, Extreme Sports Crash Into St. Paul

For the third straight year, hundreds of thousands of spectators will gather in our capital city to watch the daring-est of skaters compete in the Ice Cross Downhill World Championships, aka, Red Bull Crashed Ice.

If you’re not familiar with the event, it all started in Stockholm in 2001, when athletes of this sport (think part hockey, part downhill skiing, and part boardercross) first competed for the championship title. Since then, there have been 29 races in more than 10 countries. The track here is setup with the Cathedral of Saint Paul as its backdrop, spanning 1,410 feet with a vertical drop of 131 feet, and featuring a cathedral step-up, U-turn, wall ride and kicker (you can see a layout of the course here).

We’re the second of four stops on the world championship tour—the athletes have already competed in Helsinki and will make their way to Quebec City and Moscow following their time here. But while each city will have a victor, athletes have to prove themselves at all stops in order to be worthy of the Crashed Ice crown. A U.S. born has yet to win a championship, but this year we’ve got three contenders in the Top 25: Adam Green and Minnesota natives Cameron Naasz and Reed Whiting. 

The best part about this event though? It’s free. So brave whatever temperature it might be (20s are warm now, right?) and battle for a front row spot. Here’s a breakdown of the weekend’s events:

Thursday, Feb. 20
2 p.m.: National shootout. 100 U.S. males and six U.S. females compete, the first 32 to make it through the course advance.

Friday, Feb. 21
Noon: International shootout. 100 international and 32 U.S. athletes race down the course, with the fastest 32 advancing.
3 p.m.: Elimination round. Athletes compete four at a time, the top two from each advancing to the finals.
6 p.m.: Team challenge. The top 64 battle head-to-head, earning World Series points to boost their rankings.

Saturday, Feb. 22
5 p.m.: Gates open.
6:45 p.m.: Finals. 64 athletes race the course until a champion is crowned.

In honor of the festivities, Happy Gnome is hosting an awesome “fire and ice” outdoor party on Saturday, transforming their patio into an ice bar, serving Widmer Brr on draft, Surly, 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey and, of course, Red Bull. The fire part? The fire pit will be blazing and Dragons Fire Theater will be spitting, eating and playing with the element. There will be a DJ, too. The bar opens at 7 p.m., and it’s first come, first served.