City to play host to Olympians

Fort St. John will play host to the Canadian long-track speed skating team for a two-week training camp, November 1 to 15.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to host the country’s top speed skaters and showcase our community while injecting some much-needed tourism dollars into the community," said Mayor Lori Ackerman in a statement Wednesday.

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The team has been without a home since September after mechanical problems at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

They will train at the Pomeroy Sport Centre. Among the team are 13 Olympians, among them world champions Ivanie Blondin, Graeme Fish, and Ted-Jan Bloemen.

The team last trained here in September 2018. China's long-track team followed the next year in September 2019, and the facility has proven to be adept at holding a camp of this caliber.

The team will operate with restrictions to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Skaters and staff will travel by vehicle, and they'll be tested before and after their arrival, Speed Skating Canada chief executive officer Susan Auch said.

They'll wear masks on the ice if they can't ensure distance with their teammates.

"They won't be going out for dinner," Auch said. "They might go for a jog outside. They're going to minimize any community interaction."

If training camp is successful, Auch says the national team could return to Fort St. John again later this winter.

The skating oval is currently being used by the Fort St. John Elks speed skating teams, and the city has started its free skates on Sundays.

"We have worked with Speed Skating Canada to ensure they have the training times they need on the oval, without reducing the ice availability for local users,” said Ackerman.  

Click here to read more about the visiting skaters

— with a file from The Canadian Press

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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