Posted at: 01/24/2013 7:54 PM
Updated at: 01/24/2013 10:06 PM
By: Chris Long
Red Bull Crashed Ice has returned to St. Paul.
After a massive crowd gathered on the Cathedral grounds for the event's debut in 2012, the 2013 event got under way - after a slight delay - on Thursday evening.
The United States time trials were scheduled to begin early in the afternoon, but near-zero temperatures were too cold, causing the ice to crack during early practice runs.
The course was cleared while workers sprayed water and used blowtorches to repair the course.
Practice resumed at 5 p.m., with the time trials starting just after 6 p.m.
The fastest 32 Americans in Thursday's time trials will advance to the Finals. Friday afternoon's International time trials will pare that side of the bracket to it's 32-man field. A team event will take place on the course Friday night.
It all leads up to Saturday's four-skaters-at-a-time Finals, which begin at 6:30 Saturday evening. Tens of thousands of fans are expected to surpass last year's massive crowd.
Several heats of Finals on Saturday night will determine the 2013 Red Bull Crashed Ice St Paul champion.
The 2013 edition of the course opens with a monstrous complex that sends skaters onto the course from a start gate 18-feet higher than last year.
Through twists, turns, bumps and two uphill sections, skaters careen down Cathedral Hill toward the Xcel Energy Center over the quarter-mile track that took designers and builders weeks to assemble.
Mayor Chris Coleman and several city council members tested out the course earlier in the day Thursday.
Coleman deemed this year's course faster and more challenging than last year's.
There will be road closures in place in downtown St. Paul beginning Thursday near the St. Paul Cathedral.
Click here for the Crashed Ice schedule.
Stay with KSTP.com and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS for complete coverage of Crashed Ice.