Gallery: Rental Solution Delivers Power to Ice Track

Aug. 26, 2016
The ice track had to be frozen, the tents needed heating, and the TV broadcasters needed power, all at the same time.

The ice track had to be frozen, the tents needed heating, and the TV broadcasters needed power, all at the same time.

For five years now, St. Paul, Minn., has been the venue for an outdoor winter event that has proved a real hit with spectators. Crowds of up to 140,000 congregate around a spectacular ice track constructed near the city’s cathedral. For two days, the track plays host to a sport known as “ice cross downhill.” The event is part of a series held in locations throughout the world, together making up the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship.

Ice Cross Downhill World Championship is an extreme winter sporting event involving downhill ice skating. The event, which is raced in heats, involves a massive ice course with steep turn and high drops, with skaters reaching speeds of more than 50 kilometers per hour. In late February, St. Paul staged the final competition of the series. A Canadian won the women’s world event, and, to the crowd’s delight, the world men’s title was captured by a Minnesotan.

The event would not have been possible without the supply of power to meet three contrasting needs. The ice track needed to be frozen, and then kept frozen no matter which way the thermometer moved. Hospitality and sponsors’ tents needed to be heated to provide guests with a comfortable retreat whenever they wanted it. Last but not least, television coverage of the event had to have guaranteed power for lighting, cameras and communications gear.

Enter United Rentals, not only a major power rental company with a nationwide reputation for reliable performance, but also a supplier with an established local presence that includes a recently-opened Power HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) store in Maplewood, 10 minutes from downtown St. Paul.

“United Rentals is well experienced at providing power solutions in a wide variety of applications,” says Griffin Eure, entertainment sales, United Rentals Power & HVAC. “We have equipment including mobile and containerized power modules and chillers that support the full range of power, heating and cooling needs. This was very much a scenario where we knew how to support and excel.”

For the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship, United Rentals deployed equipment from Cummins, a strategic supplier to its Power & HVAC region. A total of five rental style generator sets were used: four 500 kW, C500 D6R operating in parallel, and a single, 300 kW C300 D6R.

“United Rentals is a key strategic customer for Cummins and supporting them is a top priority since we have built up such a great relationship,” says John Gibbons, general manager - North America rental business, Cummins Power Generation. Additionally, the event needed multiple generator sets that could operate in parallel and this capability is inherent in the product range today.

“Since Cummins has developed a paralleling control system that smartly manages load in any application, this functionality saves the customer time and money when multiple units need to run in parallel,” Gibbons adds.

“United Rentals’ ultimate goal is to be the best solution provider to our customers and it all starts with the right equipment,” says Matt Timmons, director of sales for United Rentals Power & HVAC. “Every day, our sales teams have to sell peace of mind to our customers. Our partnership with Cummins provides our teams with the confidence to be the best solution provider. When you have confidence in your equipment, you can layer in service and build out the best solution for the customer.”

The rental solution worked smoothly as the event began, and then really proved its worth as the local weather took an unexpected – indeed, unprecedented – turn for the better. An unseasonably warm spell peaked on the second day. Thermometers kept rising until they hit 58 degrees Fahrenheit, a record-breaking daytime high for

February in St. Paul. Thanks to the Cummins Power Generation generator sets, the ice stayed frozen, the event kept running, and the huge crowd was able to enjoy the spectacle every bit as much as the unexpected break in their winter weather.

John Gibbons is general manager, North American rental business, for Cummins Power Generation.