The extreme sport of crashed ice racing will set up in St. Paul, thanks to Mayor Chris Coleman, a fan.
Even daredevils and thrill seekers who are bold enough to strap on ice skates and compete in the "fastest sport on ice" might want some divine protection as they race full throttle down a bobsled-like track replete with hairpin turns, jumps, twists, inclines and steep drops.
"They might want to give one last sign of the cross before making their way down," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joked during a Monday news conference to announce that the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships will stop in St. Paul on Jan. 12-14.
Who: More than 200 athletes will compete, with the fastest going on to represent Team USA on the next three stops of the tour in the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada.
Tryouts: The first 200 people 16 and older who register at www.redbullcrashedice.com will get a chance to navigate an obstacle course at the Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 13. Scouts will pick those who exhibit speed, agility, toughness and courage to participate in the January event.
The course: The starting gate will be in park to the north of the St. Paul Cathedral. The quarter-mile refrigerated track will take racers across the front steps of the iconic church, over a temporary bridge over John Ireland Blvd. and along College Avenue near Interstate Hwy. 35E. The drop is about 105 feet. Construction will begin the week of Dec. 26.
The history: The extreme sport was born about 10 years ago when an Austrian man skated down a bobsled course. It has since morphed into a worldwide competition. Now about 14,000 people -- both men and women -- compete in the sport that crowned its first world champion in 2009. "It's the fastest sport of ice," said Team USA coach and athlete Charley Wasley, an Edina native and a former University of Minnesota hockey player.
The fans: The sport is fast gaining a following. More than 170,000 turned out in 2011 to watch athletes from 30 nations vie for the world championship. It has gained TV coverage, which is how Coleman learned of the sport and lured it to St. Paul.
"It was one of the coolest things I've seen," Coleman said. "I said, 'We need to get that here in St. Paul.'"
Cost: It's free to watch the races.
Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib