ISU delegates confident about Beijing 2022's Figure Skating/Short Track venue
Two technical delegates from the International Skating Union (ISU) toured the Capital Gymnasium this week to discuss retrofitting plans for the Beijing 2022 figure skating and short track speed skating venue.
After three days of on-site visits and off-site meetings (April 9-11), the technical delegates expressed confidence that the renovated Capital Gymnasium would be a good venue for the two disciplines in 2022.
Peter Krick, ISU's technical delegate for figure skating, called the venue "a good facility", not least for its large capacity and a practice rink conveniently located right outside the competition venue.
The main challenge for the renovation lies in the reconfiguration of rooms and spaces for athletes, journalists, and other stakeholder groups, with the ultimate goal of ensuring secure and smooth Games-time operations, said Krick, who has visited the venue more than 20 times for various ISU events.
"The architects made a proposal, and we are quite confident that it will work very well," he said, adding that it was a "valuable" attempt at sustainability to use an existing venue for Beijing 2022's figure skating and short track speed skating events.
Beijing 2022 representatives said that the retrofitting of the Capital Gymnasium would be carried out with the high standards of a truly "athlete-centered" Olympic Winter Games in mind.
Built in 1968, the Capital Gymnasium has hosted many of China's landmark sporting and cultural events. It was also one of the first indoor stadia in China to be able to host international skating competitions.
As the volleyball venue for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, it is one of eight Beijing 2008 legacy venues to be used for Beijing 2022.
"I think it will be something fascinating, which has the style…a little bit of the past, together with the new modern design. It's going to be a very nice-looking venue," said Hugo Herrnhof, ISU's technical delegate for short track speed skating.
Herrnhof competed in the Capital Gymnasium in 1993 for the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships. He said many of the athletes who competed in the venue at the time are now coaches of the teams that will probably participate in the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
"They will see a brand-new venue in 2022. So they will all have a lot of memories and remember it as a very important venue, old and new."
Looking ahead to the competitions in 2022, Krick said it was difficult to predict who would be the new stars on ice four years from now, but young Chinese figure skaters like Jin Boyang would have a chance for breakthrough.
Herrnhof said the "very strong" Chinese short track team, both women and men, would have "huge chances to perform very very well" with the support of the home crowd and the whole country.
Herrnhof, who won gold for Italy in men's 5,000m relay in the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, said "it is the most beautiful moment you can have" to skate at home, even though the intense attention might make it more mentally challenging.
"Winning an Olympic medal is something wonderful. Winning an Olympic medal in your own country is even better," Herrnhof said.