Crashed Ice needs more politicians falling down

For a fourth time, Red Bull is bringing its Crashed Ice competition to Saint Paul. It has again set up a course from the Cathedral of Saint Paul to the streets below.

Today, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman helped gin up publicity for the race by taking a few cracks at the course and falling down with great aplomb.

We admit — a tad sheepishly — that Coleman’s experience is what made Crashed Ice so much fun to attend in the first two years it visited town; the notion of people falling down or getting hurt — though sadistic — was quite an attraction.

In its early years  -- 2012 in this case -- spills meant thrills at Crashed Ice. MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson/File.

Here’s the problem. People don’t fall down and people don’t get hurt. In short, there aren’t a lot of crashes in Crashed Ice, anymore, at least not like the first year it made its appearance here.

The competitors in Crashed Ice are too good now. It’s a legitimate sport still waiting for fans to be interested in the legitimate sport aspect of it. By the way, it’s actually called “ice cross downhill.”

If you’re into Minnesota winter outdoor activities and defying the nature gods, Crashed Ice is perfect. The setting and lighting of the Cathedral is gorgeous. Being in Saint Paul when there are 10,000 people is unusual enough that everyone should want to do it at least once, maybe twice. For at least a night, there’s no better people watching in Minnesota.

But there’s another reality of Crashed Ice. Unless you’re one of the people paying for a prime spot, it’s not a very interesting spectator experience after you’ve experienced it a few times. Because the track is elevated and has so many turns to it, you can’t see anything except for, perhaps, two or three seconds when the racers zip past, while probably not falling. There’s just not that much to see beyond the light show on the Cathedral.

The beauty of the event, though, is the illustration of Saint Paul’s character. To its credit, it’s a city that doesn’t shy away from winter.

But like winter itself, Crashed Ice has a sameness about it that can wear on a person.

If only it featured more politicians falling down.