Behind the scenes for the International Short Track Speed Skating
Only one week to go until the International Short Track Speed Skating Competition comes to the National Ice Centre in Nottingham for the first time ever, I managed to speak with Stuart Horsepool, GB Short Track Performance Director and GB Short Track Speed Skater, Jon Eley. All is revealed on what to expect and how you can be a spectator.
1) Explain what will happen at the International Short Track Speed Skating Competition? Great Britain’s best speed skaters will compete against top skaters from the rest of Western Europe across three days. This is the third of six Star Class events scheduled for the 2014-15 season, which culminate with the Europa Cup Finals in March 2015. The final will see the fastest eight skaters in each age group category from East and West Europe go on to battle it out for a podium place.
Across the course of the competition, the skaters will compete over three distances (500m, 1000m and 1500m) against some of Europe’s top skaters.
2) Is this the first event of its kind – if not what can spectators expect to see when attending which may be different from any other event? This is the third Star Class competition of the 2014/15 season – the first two were held in Germany and Belgium in November and December 2014.
Spectators will have the opportunity to see Great Britain’s top speed skaters in action at their home rink where they spend their time training when they aren’t competing.
Short track speed skating is an adrenaline fuelled Winter Olympic sport, where skaters reach speeds of up to 50kmph. It’s a highly tactical and physically demanding sport with split-second decision making, so it’s extremely exciting to watch.
Spectators can expect to see the skaters racing closely in packs with lots of fast and furious racing. There will be plenty of tense finishes as the skaters cross the finish line split seconds apart and they may even see some falls, which is a common occurrence in our sport.
3) On Friday 9 January, the event is only open to schools & not the general public, will school children interact with the skaters on the ice? We are expecting more than 3,000 school children from Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands to attend on the first day of the competition. They will be treated to a Robin Hood themed Opening Ceremony and they will get to see the skaters doing what they do best – racing.
Over the past month, the squad have been busy visiting the schools that will be coming to support them at the competition, to inspire and excite the children about the upcoming event. They have been leading assemblies at the schools where the children have had the chance to watch video footage of them racing, see their medals and ask questions about the sport.
Having that many children in the NIC on the first day of the competition will make for a fantastic atmosphere and I know the skaters are all really looking forward to it. If the children enjoy themselves, we’d love them to come back with their parents over the weekend so that they can all join in the fun.
4) Is it advised to buy tickets in advance? Tickets are available for the Saturday and Sunday, but they are limited and once they’re gone, they’re gone. I would advise anyone wanting to come along and watch our skaters in action to buy their tickets in advance.
5) Will there be any other events like this taking place throughout the year? This is the first international short track speed skating competition to be held at the National Ice Centre, and we don’t have any other international events planned for the remainder of the 2014/15 season.
At the start of 2014, the squad were competing on the world stage at the Sochi Winter Olympics, so to get the opportunity to see them race live and close up is an opportunity not to be missed. There is something really special about competing on home ice and the support of the British public will help to create an electric atmosphere – not only for the British speed skaters, but for all those competing, so we hope they will come along to represent our nation.
1) With your training base at the National Ice Centre, how often do you train? We are in the National Ice Centre for six days a week; we train on the ice up to 10 times a week, with the session lasting at least 90 minutes. The NIC really does feel like home for our team. We are also able to use the weights room at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham where we train 3 times a week. Nottingham has some excellent sports venues, which makes it a great place to live and train as an elite athlete.
2) Are there any other competitions you are currently training for and looking forward to? As always, we have the World Championships at the end of the season. This year they are in Moscow, in March. I am really looking forward to heading back to Russia. I think there will be big crowds and a great atmosphere at the competition after the Russian team’s success at last year’s Olympic Games.
3) When not in training, are there any places you like to visit in Nottingham? I am a member at Mapperley Golf Club, so when I’m not training I like to play a bit of golf. The hills around Mapperley make the course very challenging but great to play. Nottingham Castle is very impressive too – this year I went to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks, which were pretty spectacular, and a great way to see in 2015.
Individual tickets cost £5, and a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) is £12. To book your ticket, visit the Capital FM Arena website, here you can also find more information on the event, or by calling the Capital FM Arena box office hotline on 0843 373 3000.