Maurice-Richard Arena to be Dedicated to Short Track Speed Skating Until the 2010 Olympic Winter Games

In an announcement made in Montréal today, Speed Skating Canada (SSC), the Fédération de patinage de vitesse du Québec (FPVQ), the Government of Québec and the City of Montreal were proud to announce that the Maurice-Richard Arena will be dedicated to short track speed skating in the lead up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The Maurice-Richard Arena has been home of the National Short Track Training Centre since the early 1990s, and the Canadian Short Track Team was sharing the facility with minor hockey and figure skating teams. With the collaboration of the Québec Government, the Québec Ministry of Education, Leasure and Sport, the City of Montréal, Hockey Québec and Hockey Montréal, plans have been made to rearrange the programming of hockey in near-by arenas in order to dedicate the Maurice-Richard facility to short track speed skating. Figure skaters will still be able to use the facility as they require a similar environment as short track speed skating does.

“The goal is to harmonize the arena with the facility that will be used in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” said Jean R. Dupré, Director General of Speed Skating Canada. “One of the main changes will be the installation of a self standing mat system, ensuring greater security of our athletes in training and competition.”

The ice will also be more specialized for short track speed skating. The objective is to replicate the same ice conditions as in Vancouver, in order to give more of a home ice advantage to the Canadian Team for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. This ensure the core of the Short Track Speed Skating National Team will be able to stay in Montreal while getting optimal preparation for the Games.

This project was drafted over two years ago now, and all parties involved invested a great deal of time and efforts in making this possible. The Maurice-Richard Arena is the only Olympic size ice surface in Montreal, and home of over 80% of Speed Skating Canada’s Short Track National and Development Team athletes.

The President of the FPVQ, Gilles Dufour, agrees with SSC : “We are extremely happy with this. Our federation works hard to continue its contribution to the strenght of Canada on the international stage of short track speed skating. We are proud to know that our athletes will be able to keep preparing for the Olympic Games in the best possible conditions.”

Work will start as early as March 9th, 2009, and the project is expected to be finalized by June 2nd, 2009. This announcement is made as the last full pre-olympic speed skating season starts. “With limited opportunities for our team to train and compete at the Olympic Venue in Vancouver, enabling them to skate on a similar ice is key in their preparation for the Games,” concluded Jean R. Dupré.