Technical Delegates from the International Skating Union (ISU) visited the construction site of Beijing 2022’s Speed Skating venue and discussed optimizing plans for it from May 24-27.
Tron Espeli, ISU Vice President and Technical Delegate for Speed Skating, said he was “very comfortable” with the “impressive progress” that had been made for the National Speed Skating Oval since his last trip to Beijing in 2017.
The oval is one of two new competition venues to be built in the Beijing competition zone, the other being the Snowboard Big Air venue.
The oval is nicknamed “Ice Ribbon” for the 22 “ribbons” made up of 3,360 pieces of glass on its exterior, which symbolize speed skaters racing around the oval and the year in which the Olympic Winter Games are to be held in Beijing.
“I’m sure the athletes will be very fascinated and very happy to be welcomed by such a venue in 2022,” said Espeli, who was in Beijing with ISU Technical Delegate German Panov and Canadian ice making expert Mark Messer.
With a capacity of 12,000, the oval is a short distance to the north of the Olympic Park, where landmark Beijing 2008 venues like the “Water Cube” National Aquatics Center and the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium – the former to be used again for Beijing 2022’s Curling events and the latter for the opening and closing ceremonies – are located.
To have a Speed Skating rink positioned in such a symbolic area of a large capital city was unique and “a big advantage for the exposure and visibility of the sport,” attracting speed skaters from all over China and around the world, Espeli said.
“It is a dream coming true for Speed Skating to come to a really great audience, considering Beijing is one of the biggest cities in the world and (the oval) being placed in one of the most well-known areas of Beijing,” he said.
Construction for the oval began in 2017 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, after which various systems inside the oval will be tested and fine-tuned in a series of test events.
“We are facing a very fortunate situation, with this venue being available two years before the Games, giving the best opportunity to create optimal conditions,” Espeli said.
In addition to the construction site visit, the ISU delegates held extensive meetings with colleagues from Beijing 2022 and the venue owner to discuss a wide range of topics, including competition schedules, key functional areas of the oval, ice making facilities, lighting and sound systems, camera positions, and legacy plans.
Espeli said he was happy to see a “coexistence” between Speed Skating and other ice sports and public use in the oval’s post-Games utilization plan.
The oval’s flexible design enables it to host not only Speed Skating but also Short Track Speed Skating, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, and Curling competitions. The public will also be able to use the oval for sport and recreational purposes after Beijing 2022.
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