Ben Weis is returning the X Games feel and will be competing in the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in Minneapolis Jan. 24-26. — Eric Johnson/

Austin’s Ben Weis rises to new levels

Published 8:18pm Sunday, January 13, 2013

Austin resident Ben Weis has come a long way and he’s about to go even further.

After a two-year hiatus from his pro rollerblading career that saw him compete in the X Games, Weis has been on ice skates as of late and is training to compete in the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship during Red Bull Crashed Ice in St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 24-26.

Weis has yet to compete in an Ice Cross Downhill, but he was invited to the event through an email from Red Bull without a trial because of his history in related sports. Ice Cross Downhill, which is new to the U.S. and has only existed for 10 years, involves four skaters in hockey gear going through the equivalent of a 500-yard bobsled course at speeds close to 45 miles per hour.

There are sharp turns, jumps 10 to 15 feet high, and there’s the presence of the three other skaters who are trying to get through the course first.

Ben Weis clears a chair at Riverside Arena as he prepares for the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in Minneapolis on Jan. 24-26.

“I call it craziness,” Weis said. “It’s just nuts.”

Weis will be competing against skaters from all over the world on a track that will run through St. Paul. The outdoor course begins at the Cathedral and runs through downtown St. Paul. The event is part of the Winter Carnival, which is expected to draw more than 200,000 people.

“I’m pretty competitive by nature in everything I do,” said Weis, who graduated from Austin High School in 1999. “I’m so ready for something like this to explode into and release some built up energy after being off the pro tour for a couple of years.”

Some of the competitors get to the top of an Ice Cross Downhill course, and they get a little scared and decide not to try it. Weis isn’t worried about that happening to him.

After all, he’s already dealt with rollerblading on the big hills of San Francisco back when he lived in California.

“That was scarier because there were trains, cars and people,” Weis said. “This is on an enclosed track, so I’m right in my element. If I don’t have to worry about anything except just going fast. It’s all good.”

Weis, who grew up in a home near Kauffman Park, began playing pond hockey at a young age. He was involved in basketball, baseball and cross country until he tried rollerblading at age 15.

After that day, Weis was on skates for good.

“Once I discovered that I could do whatever I wanted with wheels under my feet, I was hooked,” he said.

Weis went on to become a pro skater in 2000. He took fifth place at the 2002 X Games, which was the highest ranking for an American and he won two World Championships.

He was eventually sponsored by K2 and had a skate modeled in his name. The biggest venue Weis competed in was the X Games at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Eventually the bright lights faded when Weis served a two-year sentence for a felony drug conviction. During that time, he changed his outlook and enrolled in a voluntary, prison/military boot camp, The Challenge Incarceration Program. Now he’s been working his way back to success for the past year and a half.

“I did some things where I had to be checked on my priorities and I’d like to thank my support network of Parole Officer Troy Dieckman, my mother and my friends. It feels really good to be taken seriously again after a hiatus,” Weis said. “I’m very thankful and grateful for the opportunity. I hit a rough patch in my life, and I pulled through it and became a completely different person. It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have a great support staff.”

Weis hasn’t just made strides in the world of ice skating. He’s scheduled to begin his pro rollerblading career again with a couple of events on the horizon. He has been playing basketball and pond hockey; he ran two marathons within four months, and he has got his mile run down to a time of four minutes and 50 seconds.

“At 32 years old, I’m beasting right now, and it feels great. Who knows what’s next?” Weis said. “I just can’t let it go to my head like I did in the past. I’ve got to keep myself in check since not too many people get a first chance. For me to get a second chance speaks volumes that everything I’ve done to change my life is worth it.”

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  • Stan Snellington

    Is a prison sentence considered a hiatus? Because that’s where he was for his……

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  • Mandy

    Who cares where he was people make mistakes Ben has made a change in his life and your just mad cuz he is getting a second chance. Way to go Ben!

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  • Ben

    Keep it up Benny. Good luck. You put your “time off” to good use. Even though you had to work 16 hours a day for 180 days in a row to earn your freedom.

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  • Matt

    Though I support 2nd chances, I believe it would have been more appropriate if this story had been written/posted another 2 years from now…THAT would truly show he was serious about getting back on the right path. His MN criminal record states he still has almost $500 in outstanding fines dating back to 2008…

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    • Jim

      I agree with you that it is a little early to say that someone who was recently released from prison has turned over a new leaf. However, the bizarre public stalking you did to dig up the amount of his fines is a little disturbing and may say more about your own problems. The real story at the core here is that until we start treating drugs as what they are, a public health issue, we will never make any real progress. Is there a benefit to locking up drug addicts at massive tax payer expense? The failed war on drugs indicates that it solves nothing. People with drug problems need real help i.e. treatment. Most of these people have committed victimless crimes where the only person harmed is themselves. Who really gives a rip about some bs fines due to an unjust process that, ultimately, doesn’t solve the root of the problem. The judicial system has become a fine collecting system that doesn’t try to affect any real change but is a trumped up state revenue system that prays on lower income citizens.

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