B.C. Long-track championships heading to Enerplex

The 2010 B.C. Long-track speed skating championships are heading to Fort St. John.

The Fort St. John Elks got confirmation on Tuesday that Speed Skating Canada has approved the Enerplex as a sanctioned venue, meaning posted times will be recognized by speed-skating authorities.

Of course, the Energetic City has hosted provincials before, but this will be the first time the event heads inside the Enerplex.   Elks Coach Richard Stickel says the competition will feature mostly mass-start events (where 4-6 skaters start a race together, and the first across the line wins), with some Olympic style races as well (where two racers skate heads-up, and finishes are based on times).  He says, time permitting, the Elks might also try some demonstration team pursuit races.   Pursuit is a newer style of racing featuring three skaters from each team on the track at once.  It allows skaters to draft off each other, creating a higher-speed race.  "It’s a little bit more exciting" says Stickel, whose former pupil, Denny Morrison, won a silver medal in the event at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Stickel says he expects between 100 and 150 skaters from across the province to come for the championships, which will feature Provincial, Regional-1, and Regional-2 class racing, meaning all of the Elks will get a chance to race.

The indoor venue will allow the Elks to hold more events, on an oval that will offer consistent ice conditions and comfortable off-ice conditions, and Stickel says that means Fort St. John could become a hot-bed for speed-skating competitions. [asset|aid=2275|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=ccb05c6ca5c43c585531acc9e80970ad-Stickel-1_1_Pub.mp3]

In terms of the controversial padding issue, Stickel points out that it is events that are sanctioned, not buildings.  Theoretically, that means the Elks will have to re-apply for sanctions for every competition to be held in the Enerplex.  But Stickel says, now that the Elks have reports showing the Enerplex oval is safe to use, and has received authorization from Speed-skating Canada, concerns about safety and times can be finally put to rest.  "I believe so" he says.  "We’ve got reports that nobody else has now that show the safety of our mats."

The Enerplex oval isn’t open to the public yet, as the City has seen a few delays in the phased opening of the building.   But, Fort St. John’s Director of Protective Services, Jim Rogers, says the City is working with Joint Ventures, and he hopes it will be within the next couple of weeks.  Rogers says a press release will be sent out by the City this week, announcing an official opening date.

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