In the video, filmed by a St. Thomas Academy student on Jan. 24, the Rev. Nels Gjengdahl is perched about two thirds the way up the opening ramp of the Crashed Ice course. (St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman invited the theology teacher to skate a segment of the race.)
He releases the railing reluctantly and skates down the ice track, dipping, rising, dipping, rising. Then he stumbles and backslides skates first, slowing as he reaches the parabola's vertex. As he comes to a stop, he turns his masked face toward the cameraman and sticks out his rigid gloves in an approximation of a thumbs up.
The voice behind the camera asks Gjengdahl what was the hardest part.
"The ice is uneven, it’s very choppy," he says. “I was thinking to myself, ‘Yeah, yeah, get up there a few times then we’ll do the top.’” Gjendahl gives a breathless shake of his head. “Holy Crud, it is so steep.”