Crashed Ice extreme skating: What's to worry about?by Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A curvy, elevated, icy track now winds its way from the St. Paul Cathedral down the bluff toward downtown.
One hundred-eighty skaters will make their daring descents in the second annual Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships Thursday through Saturday.
A spokesman said the events were delayed Thursday afternoon because of bitterly cold weather and were due to begin again at 5 p.m.
YouTube helmet camera videos show the sport is fast and out of control. Skaters dressed in hockey gear come out of the starting gate four abreast, trying to stay upright while navigating a course loaded with bumps, twists and drops.
We asked a variety of people for their opinions on the dangerous sport known as ice cross downhill racing:
Rick Lindsey, insurance agent in Provo, Utah
Rick Lindsey has been in the extreme sports insurance business since stuntman Evel Knievel tried to jump the Snake River Canyon on his motorcycle in 1974. But Lindsey said it's hard to sell insurance to people who think they're immortal.
"Evel Knievel — he didn't want coverage," Lindsey said.
Knievel's parachute malfunctioned and he fell, strapped to his motorcycle, into the river. But he lived.
When it comes to assessing risk for the riskiest, Lindsey said extreme sports keep pushing the envelope.
"They're doing back flips on snowmobiles and motocross and they're doing these downhill ski events that are kind of like roller derby," Lindsey said. "The things they do today are far more risky than what we did 20 years ago."
Bill Roberts, U of M sports medicine doctor
Bill Roberts drove by the Crashed Ice course and thought it looked like fun — if he were 25. If he were the doctor on duty, he'd pack a lot of supplies.
"I would probably pack some splints for arms or legs, possible fracture or sprain. I would bring a backboard for spine injury and a neck brace. I would bring a laceration kit so I could sew up lacerations if somebody got cut, because skates are pretty sharp and if you get hit in an open skin area you can get cut pretty easily," Roberts said. "And then probably a kit for taking care of abrasions or scrapes."
Chris Pappillon, St. Paul Crashed Ice course designer
Course designer Chris Pappillon, of Quebec, was the first one to try it out.
"I'm kind of the crash test dummy," he said.
Papillon has to strike a balance between building an exciting course, and one that's safe for the riders and spectators, which means raising walls and making tweaks.
"We have some accidents here and there, but so far, nothing special, nothing major," he said.
"Knock on wood," he added, hitting his head.
Crashed Ice officials say no racers have died, but last year in St. Paul, one skater ended up in the hospital with several leg fractures.
Brenda Naasz, mother of Crashed Ice participant
Brenda Naasz's 23-year-old son Cameron Naasz is the top-ranked American in the sport.
"You know the fear factor is there, but we've long gotten over that," she said.
Brenda Naasz said she's watched her son play hockey, wake board and do extreme sports all his life. And although she first thought he was kidding when he emailed her a photo of the Crashed Ice course last year, she's learned to say, "All right, honey, you just go ahead."
"When he went down the first time, it was kind of like, 'All right you know what, just don't kill yourself. Just make it down and we can be done with this and we can all go home.' And when he ended up taking rookie of the year and moving on this year, it's entirely different. I'm confident he knows what he's doing up there," she said.
Naasz said she'll be waiting at the finish line, cheering her son on, hoping he makes it to the next round of Crashed Ice in the Netherlands.
And she's not worried.
- Morning Edition, 01/24/2013, 7:45 a.m.