No one ever said Chris Coleman wasn’t a glutton for punishment.
Six years on the St. Paul City Council, eight years and counting as mayor — and now a third straight year skating the treacherous Cathedral Hill track where 200 daredevils will compete over the next few days for the Red Bull Crashed Ice crown.
But Coleman, wearing a helmet and a USA hockey jersey with his name and the number 1 on back, took on two formidable sections of the icy track Wednesday along with his 19-year-old son Aidan, City Council Member Chris Tolbert and former Council Member Melvin Carter III.
No one was hurt, so it was considered a success.
The three-day ice cross downhill competition returns Thursday to St. Paul, where 115,000 people are expected to watch from the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul all the way down Old Kellogg Boulevard to the finish line — a vertical drop in the track equivalent to a 13-story building.
Coleman said this year’s 1,411-foot track is even tougher than those in 2012 and last year. It has six turns, including a 180-degree U-turn and the “Wallride,” where the four skaters must negotiate an abrupt right or risk crashing into a high wall.
Speeds can reach more than 40 miles per hour.
“It’s tough but … I didn’t fall this year,” Tolbert told his colleagues at the council meeting Wednesday. “There’s a few areas that seem pretty reckless that we weren’t allowed to go down.”
Team USA has six Minnesotans on its roster, including Cameron Naasz of Lakeville, who last year became the first American to win a Crashed Ice event and placed third overall in world rankings.
Here’s what you need to know about this year’s race. For more information, see the Red Bull website at redbullcrashedice.com, the convention bureau website at visitstpaul.com/redbull or the city website at stpaul.gov/crashedice.
THE RACE: St. Paul is the second stop for the world championship tour, which began three weeks ago in Helsinki, Finland, and goes from here to Moscow on March 8. The final will be held in Quebec City on March 22. The racer who finishes with the most points from the four races will be declared the champ.
THE SCHEDULE: On Thursday, training sessions will be held for 100 U.S. athletes before the National Shoot Out at 2 p.m., when the U.S. field will be narrowed to 32. On Friday, the international field will be narrowed; the elimination round begins at 3 p.m., and the team competition finals start at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the finals will begin at 6:45 p.m., with gates opening at 5 p.m.
THE LOGISTICS: The good news is that the event is free. The bad news is that there’s no public parking on site. But there will be shuttles ready to pick up spectators at the State Capitol, the Sears parking lot, and two downtown stops at 12th and St. Peter Streets, and Cedar Street and Columbus Avenue. Food and beverages can be purchased on site, but can’t be brought in. Many roads in and around the site will be closed.