'Crashed Ice' competitors take to the tracks for trial races

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The wildly popular Red Bull Crashed Ice races officially open to the public Saturday, but Thursday's the day the search for the best of the best begins.

The "National Shootout Run," which kicks off at 4 p.m. Thursday, puts U.S. athletes to the test in two competitive runs, according to the event's website. All 100 Americans will be competing, but only 32 will go on to Friday night's elimination round.

It's much the same for international competitors Friday – 100 challengers will be culled down to an elite 32 before moving onto the elimination round, where the 64 remaining U.S. and international athletes will again be narrowed down to (you guessed it) a final 32.

It's onto Saturday's finals from there, and crowds of spectators.

If you ask St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, though, the trials started Wednesday, and did not end particularly well – at least not for him. Coleman tested out a particularly challenging part of the track that included a series of icy hills.

The leader apparently landed on his rear end on his first attempt, but his second go was a success.

Coleman's run may not stack up to the elite 32 who will compete on Saturday, but not bad for a guy who spends most of his days in City Hall – according to the Mankato Free Press, the extreme winter race is described as the world's fastest sport on skates.

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