Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Award Winning Richmond Olympic Oval

by Lisa Ovens

Richmond Olympic Oval: home of the long track speed skating competition for the 2010 Winter Olympics
Photo taken by Lisa Ovens Dec. 13th 2008, Grand Opening Weekend

And the first Gold Medal goes to...The Richmond Olympic Oval!!!! Hearts working at the Oval will be a little more a glow than usual after learning about the engineering award bestowed on the beautiful speed skating/ fitness facility earlier this week. The Institution of Structural Engineers awarded the Oval a Gold Medal in the Sports and Leisure category, beating out the stunning “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing, China.

I first saw the site for the Oval when riding my bike on along the Middle Arm Trail, spring 2007. You can see the trail running along the edge of the river. This is one of my favorite flat places to ride when I’m in the mood to ride, write, picnic and watch planes take off (Vancouver International Airport is quite close by, on the other side of the river).

The best part about the building is the roof. The designers chose to use wood that had been destroyed by pine beetles. (The pine beetle infestation is a serious issue in a province filled with trees like BC is.)

It was less than a year ago, the facility celebrated it's grand opening, which included a variety of ceremonies and entertainment. The big draw however, was free skating on the track. Thousands showed up despite the unusually cold weather to skate where the Olympic stars will skate.

My friends and I navigated the packed ice, and with that many people gliding, you really had to be careful. The craziest thing I saw was a dad and son having a skating lesson. I guess the dad decided the grand opening weekend would be a great time to teach his kid how to skate. The dad had a big broom in his hands. He skated backwards, and his kid held on for dear life. I tried to get a photo of this, but then decided to leave the man and his misguided judgement alone.

This weekend ( Oct. 17-20, 2009) will be the Fall World Cup  Trials, and it will also be the last time we will see Team Canada's speed skaters at the Oval before the games in February. It's only a $5.00 admission for adults, and free for kids 12 yrs and younger. For more information on the trials, and everything else you can do at the Richmond Olympic Oval, please visit the website Richmond Olympic Oval ...don't forget to check the schedule for public skating!

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