Last night Mark and I attended Crashed Ice Edmonton. For those uninitiated, Crashed Ice is basically a 400-meter downhill ice skating race with sharp turns, jumps and obstacles. (Don’t worry, I’d never heard of it before until about a month or two ago either.) This year it was held in Saint Paul, Helsinki, Belfast, and Edmonton. For the last nine years, Quebec City hosted the Canadian portion of the race, so this was the first year for Edmonton. The race was hyped so much in the news and on the radio that we decided it sounded like something worth seeing.
The outdoor track was built in the river valley, starting at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Since the outdoor course was made of ice, we had a little problem: a patch of unseasonably warm weather. With a high of sixteen degrees Celsius, there were concerns about the integrity of the track. The chillers they used to keep the track cold were good to about 17 degrees Celsius, as long as they kept the track covered up when it wasn’t in use. So it was cutting things close. Luckily, Saturday was overcast for the entire day, only clearing up around 5pm. The race was set to begin at 7pm.
Oh, and did I mention it’s sponsored by Red Bull? The advertising was subtle:
We parked several blocks away and walked toward the conference centre. The crowds quickly increased the closer we got, until we could barely walk through the throngs of people. The turnout was nuts. I assumed it would bring out a good crowd, but we had no idea:
There were beer gardens, food trucks, and massive tv screens posted strategically through the river valley so everyone could get a decent view of the action. The gates opened at 4pm, but the race didn’t begin until 7pm. We didn’t get there until 7, so getting a good close-up view wasn’t going to be in the cards. People had probably been standing since 4pm just to get a good spot along the race track. We tried a few different vantage points to see if we could at least get a few decent photos.
We moved a bit further down the valley, and found a big empty space in the crowd. Why was there a 12-foot gap in the crowd where no one was standing? Well, the warm weather created a large, deep pool of mud where no one was willing to stand. We didn’t have the best shoes on for those conditions, but once we stepped in and realized how deep it was, it was kind of too late, so we decided to stay. it actually made for a pretty good vantage point since few people were willing to brave it.
Part of the ensuing entertainment was watching people try to navigate the mud bog in front of us, which included splashing, stomping, slipping, and numerous expletives. I’ve never seen so many people cursing irately at a little wet dirt before. Anyway, this was where we decided to stay to watch the race.
Crashed Ice was fun to watch…for a while. It’s really kind of the same thing over and over though, not a lot of variation. But man, the competitors get a ton of speed, up to 70km an hour! The party vibe was pretty awesome to experience too. I think this was the first big outdoor event we’ve had post-winter, and the temperatures brought people out in droves. The news this morning estimated about 70,000 people came out, but we think it may have been even higher than that. I hope we host the event again in years to come because it was something really unique to witness.