Calgary’s Olympic Oval hosts World Cup short track speedskating event

Over the course of a weekend in October, the world’s best short track speedskaters took to the ice at Calgary’s Olympic Oval. The Samsung ISU Short Track World Cup saw athletes from 29 countries take part in the opening races of the short track season during three days of competition.

This was the first time the Olympic Oval has hosted a short track World Cup event since 2003. Tickets were sold out for both days of racing that were open to the public.

Spectator access to the opening day of races was reserved for 850 students from across Calgary. The students were provided with a unique opportunity to watch and learn about speedskating and related concepts.

Nearly 200 volunteers helped out with tasks as diverse as security, race Athletes from over 20 countries took part in the first World Cup short track speedskating event held in Calgary since 2003.

Photo by Karry Talyortiming and acting as chaperones for athletes undergoing mandatory drug testing.

Cecilia Pacanins, the event’s volunteer co-ordinator, says volunteers are the “motor” behind the many sporting events that are held at the Olympic Oval.

“They are the engine that makes everything happen here,” Pacanins says. “We need so many people to do so many different tasks. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible to put on a sports event like this.”

Thirty volunteers took part with the project involving the day set aside for Calgary students.

“We needed people to talk to the children about speedskating, about the countries that were coming to visit us and about math things related to the speedskating,” Pacanins says.

Tracy Stewart, the Oval’s community relations specialist, says that the facility has many long-term volunteers, which is a benefit when hosting large events such as the World Cup.

Among the nearly 200 volunteers who gave their time and energy were the event’s volunteer coordinator Cecilia Pacanins (left) and Laurie Goetting (right), who has been volunteering at the Olympic Oval for the past 14 years.

Photo by Karry Taylor“A lot of our volunteers have been here since 1987 when the building opened,” Stewart says. “A lot of the Oval staff that worked the World Cup event were also there in a volunteer capacity outside of their regular staff duties.”

Laurie Goetting has been volunteering at the Oval for 14 years. She says she started volunteering for speedskating events out of a love for the sport.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to meet world-class athletes and people from all over the world,” Goetting says. “I think it’s just the notion that you can make a difference, no matter how small it is.”

“In Europe they have sold-out crowds. Here the sport is just building,” Goetting says. “There are now bigger crowds coming out to see it here.

“The opportunity to be able to experience this first-hand is exciting.”

Pacanins says that while many volunteers get involved out of interest in the sport, there is also another element when it comes to people offering up their time and energy.

“We have a great group of volunteers in Calgary. You explain to them what to do and they are out there doing it with a smile and enjoying their tasks,” Pacanins says.

“It’s a chance to give back and help out — it’s the nature of Calgary.”

ktaylor@cjournal.ca