A few years in the making, the Fort St. John Elks Speed Skating Club announced in late October the dates for the upcoming World Masters Allround Games.
From March 10-12, 2017, some of the best speed skaters in the world aged 30 and older will compete at the Pomeroy Sport Centre Oval.
It will be the first international speed skating event ever hosted in Fort St. John.
“Hosting the World Masters Games will not only be the largest, it will also be the first ever international skating event we have organized. We have always enjoyed tremendous support from the City of Fort St John, as well as from individuals and businesses,” said Dee-Ann Stickel, who chairs the 2017 Games Organizing Committee.
The International Masters’ Speed Skating Committee (IMSSC) awarded the World Masters to Fort St. John in 2014 after Elks Vice President Wim Kok was encouraged to bid on the event. According to Kok, the committee had a preference for indoor facilities and liked what Fort St. John had when the oval was first built in 2010.
Acting Mayor Byron Stewart called the city “three times lucky” to host the event in between the World Under-17 hockey tournaments.
“To me, it’s an exciting time, having international competitions in our community,” he said. “It’s a feather in our hat.”
Kok added that athletes would have a chance to participate in two high level competitions over the course of 10 days, with the Calgary Oval finale a week after the event in Fort St. John. Depending on age, each athlete will skate four distances, ranging from 500 to 5000m.
A total of 200 skaters will be accepted into the competition, with 40 spots available for Canadians. Canadian skaters are exempt from qualifying standards as the host of the event, but other countries like Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Russia have their own qualifying standards.
Sitckel added that just hours after uploading competition details and registration package on the IMSSC website, they received registrations from Canada, Germany, Norway and the United States.
”We are very excited for this opportunity to showcase our Community, the Pomeroy Sport Centre, the Club and the sport of speed skating,“ Stickel said.
The Elks have hosted plenty of high profile speed skating events, including most recently the long track portion of 2015 Canada Winter Games that was moved to Fort St. John from Prince George. They have also hosted Canada Cups, National Championships and the 2012 Masters Championships.
For more information, visit www.imssc.org or the Fort St. John Speed Skating Club website at http://fsjspeedskating.com/