While crews work to put the finishing touches on the Red Bull Crashed Ice course that starts on the steps of the Cathedral in St. Paul, a number of teams participating in the extreme sporting event have been busy training at .
Thursday athletes from the Netherlands were training at The LumberYard, and today participants from Russia were training there. On Friday, members of teams from Sweden, Finland and Russia trained at the facility.
To train for the ice-cross event, an obstacle course was set up on a sheet of ice where athletes practiced getting out of the starting gate, set up foam obstacles for jumping landing and turning and used the skating treadmill, Lee Erickson of The LumberYard said.
"It was some real innovative stuff," Erickson said. "It's been a lot of fun."
The LumberYard has a lot of skilled trainers who are well-versed in athletics, Erickson said. But because of the unique nature of the Red Bull event, many of the trainers had to learn as things came up.
"It's been fun to be innovative and come up with ways for these guys to simulate what they're bodies will go through," Erickson said.
Although the training facility is relatively new, Red Bull contacted The Lumberyard because the facility is so complete when it comes to training athletes, Erickson said.The Red Bull event is full of a bunch of great athletes, and "we're a complete athlete training program."
The top US athletes from the event this weekend will be given the title of Team USA and will be training at The Lumberyard Jan. 27-29 before continuing on to the upcoming global events in the Netherlands, Sweden and Quebec City.
Thursday will be the first time the athletes, including Josh Erickson of Stillwater, will have the chance to try out the downhill ice course with a few practice runs followed by time trials.
As for Erickson's emotions hours before his son hits the track, he he's feeling a little bit of everything.
"I'm excited for him," Erickson said. "But you can't help but be scared to death when you see that track."
Practice begins about 10:30 a.m. and the time trials start at 1 p.m., in St. Paul. Click here to view video from last year’s event.
Stay tuned as we update this post with comments from The LumberYard, more information about this week’s event, interviews with local participants and photos from St. Paul.