The summer classic

By Kevin Rothbauer

If you can’t wait for the new speedskating season to start, you don’t really have to wait any longer.

The Olympic Oval is hosting the Summer Classic this week (Aug. 12-14). That’s the beauty of having a self-contained skating facility–it doesn’t restrict winter sports in Calgary to just 11 months of the year.

The Summer Classic is an International Skating Union-sanctioned event, which means that world records can be set. According to Oval spokesperson Christa Detomasi, it could happen.

"A couple of records could fall," she explained. "A couple fell last year."

This is the second year for the Summer Classic, which follows a similar format to the Oval Finale, which takes place in the spring. In both the Finale and the Summer Classic, competitors of all ages and abilities are welcome to sign up to compete. Neither competition is conÞned to certain distances. Both incorporate sprint events as well as the longer courses.

One of the more unique events at this year’s Summer Classic will be Olaf Kotza’s challenge of the hour record. Rather than trying to break a time record, Kotza—a German skater—will go as far as he can in a hour of non-stop skating. The current record was set on Oval ice at the last Þnale.

If you were hoping to catch Catriona LeMay Doan in action, you will have to wait a little longer. Most of Canada’s national team is away at a training camp, leaving Mark Knoll as the only national team member among the more than 60 competitors expected. Internationally ranked skaters from the Korean, Japanese, Dutch and American teams are expected, with the marquee name being that of Jan Bos, a world record holder from the Netherlands.

The Summer Classic runs 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free.

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