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Mild weather has Red Bull Crashed Ice athletes getting creative in final weeks of training

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Minnesotans haven't had to deal with much wintry weather so far this year, and many have welcomed the mild December weather.

However, there are some people who would really enjoy a cold snap in the near future, including athletes hoping to get some on-ice training before January's Red Bull Crashed Ice in St. Paul.

The warmer temperatures have prevented some outdoor rinks from opening and delayed some crucial training time for Crashed Ice athletes looking to fly down the quarter-mile, twisted, jumped-filled course next month.

Athletes train for months leading up to Crashed Ice, strapping on their inline skates at skate parks or on wooden tracks that resemble the course, a news release notes, but when winter rolls around many athletes hope to take that training to the ice, skating outdoors or on outdoor ice tracks they've designed.

That hasn't been as easy this year, WCCO reports. The news station spoke with two local competitors, Cameron Naasz, who placed third in St. Paul last year and won the Moscow race, and Thomas Mertz, who's hoping to qualify for St. Paul's race. They turned to the 3rd Lair Skate Park in Golden Valley this weekend to practice.

Mertz told WCCO that there are ways to get ready for the race without ice, but "I think there's going to be nerves for everyone probably."

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This year's competition will be held Jan. 22-24 in St. Paul – the fourth time the city has hosted the event.

In 2014, the three-day event drew 150,000 people to the course near the St. Paul Cathedral. It reportedly brings a huge economic boost to St. Paul – approaching $20 million – as visitors spend at restaurants, hotels, bars and other businesses.

Leading up to January's event, there's a qualifying event in St. Paul Sunday, and another will be held in Duluth Jan. 3, 2015 – registration for the Duluth event is still open.

For those who can't make it to the qualifying events, there's a chance to qualify online:

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Red Bull's Crashed Ice underway in St. Paul

A couple hundred athletes from around the world are competing in the three-day event, including 75 Minnesotans. According to MPR, the 400-meter track starts by the Cathedral of Saint Paul and ends near the Kellogg Boulevard onramp to I-35E. It includes jumps, sharp turns and steep slopes. Skaters can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.