On Thursday Jan.12, 2012 I went to watch the first round of this international ice racing event at its U.S. debut in St Paul, Minnesota. This first round was mainly a one-at-a-time time trial to whittle the U.S. field down to 64 racers that would compete Friday and Saturday in the international event in which 4 racers would go at one time with the top two continuing on in the competition. The downhill ice track was very challenging and it looked like the skaters were having difficulty. I heard that several racers were taken to the hospital within the first half hour of the competition.
The race starts with a steep downhill run followed by a short flat section before going down another steep grade. The course twists and winds until it reaches a very steep upgrade with a hairpin turn, then it winds into a double bump where many of the racers had problems. Speed is necessary at this point to make it up a very steep grade not far after the double bump. The final run has a staggered double bump very close to the finish line.
It was difficult to get good sight lines for photography, but I tried to capture racers on some of the more challenging portions of the course. Of course the official cameramen had great vantage points from their booms that were elevated above the course.
Even during this preliminary heat the energy and excitement was noticeable. There were probably 2000 people attending and everyone was yelling and screaming as racers made it around a difficult curve, or flew over a bump. There were also great sighs as racers fell, or crashed into the boards.
When the final trials begin it will feature 4 racers competing at one time. The fastest will then continue on into the next race and so on until the winners emerge. The excitement will be electric as more than 8000 spectators cheer for the racers. The drama will also be heightened because the finals will be at night with floodlights illuminating the track and the racers.
These shots were taken to give a feel for the course and what it looked like to participate in this interesting and at times dangerous event.
Question: how do they make ice on steep slopes?
Submitted by Dynolights Member Steve Shor