Olympic venue in Richmond open for skating
With more than 500 days still to go before the 2010 Olympic Games begin, Canadian skate blades are already carving up the Olympic circuit, at the new Ricmond Oval.
"All of the construction guys were stopping to watch us when we get on the ice,'' said speed skater Kristina Groves. "You see how proud they are of the work they've done, and seeing speed skating for the first time is pretty neat for them," she said.
While the construction continues, Canada's long track speed skating team is getting the first crack at the Richmond Oval.
Among those who showed up for the very first training session were Jeremy Wotherspoon, the current 500 Metre World Champion.
"Everyone's really excited to be here right now and I think the building right now has everything we need to train"
The Oval will be a signature Olympic venue. But the original plan didn't put it on the banks of the Fraser River.
But when a proposal to locate the facility at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., was put on ice, Richmond skated into the picture.
The $180 million Oval, with its unique wood wave roof is part of a massive waterfront redevelopment project. After the games, it will be converted to a multi-purpose recreational facility.
"It'll be a place in the post-Olympic period where it'll contribute to the better health of the city of Richmond, and the province of B.C.," said Richmond Oval general manager John Mills.
"It'll be a place where high performance athletes can develop to their fullest potential."
But before then. These athletes will be making great strides in an effort to grab Olympic medals in 2010
The roster includes retired Olympic speed skater Catriona Lemay Doan, who says she is excited for all the skaters who will be able to use the facility. "This is going to be their Olympic Games,'' she said.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen