National Ice Centre 1 of 6 global rinks to get latest safety tech for GB Short Track
GB Short Track Speed Skating have been making revolutionary changes to the way the British team are able to train thanks to funding from UK Sport and Sport England.
Due to the high speeds reached in Short Track Speed Skating, of up to 35 mph, and the close proximity of skaters racing, protection of the athletes is essential to help prevent the risk of injuries.
Traditional crash pads in front of the rinkside ice hockey solid boards have traditionally been used by GB Short Track, however more efficient systems have been developed globally to provide a soft impact effect and almost totally remove the dangerous bounce back, minimising the injury risk if the athletes do crash.
GB Short Track have been working with the National Ice Centre and Italian company ImpaKt Sport Equipment to introduce the new system in Nottingham where the World Class Programme athletes, including World Champion Elise Christie, train. There are just six other rinks globally that have this technology in place and the full boardless system was first trialled at the Winter Olympics in Torino 2006.
Performance Director Stewart Laing explained:
“We are extremely fortunate that UK Sport and Sports England’s Elite Training Centre Strategy has supported this project, allowing us create a safer environment for athletes to skate fast and practice racing. We are extremely lucky to have the National Ice Centre as our home, and their unrelenting pursuit to overcome various obstacles during this installation is a testament to their support to short track and our Olympic ambitions. The whole team at the National Ice Centre have worked round the clock to ensure this is finished in time for our final Olympic preparations.”
Protection is reached with a special inside structure made of different layers of foam. The front part is made of a special shock-absorber with slow memory, able to absorb the first phase and speed of the impact, avoiding a severe impact for the athlete. Each single system has different inside structures which have been especially studied and tested to reach the highest possible impact force and bounce back reduction.
The mobile protection system can be removed as required to allow for other activity and sports which take place at the National Ice Centre.
UK Sport and Sport England recognise that by changing the protection system, GB Short Track will be able to train more effectively and develop speed work whilst reducing the risks to the skaters. This could have a significant effect on performance of the athletes as the sport becomes faster. It will also make Nottingham a potential venue for future major Short Track Speed Skating competitions as well as an attractive training option for visiting world class teams.
Speed skater Jennifer Pickering explains:
“It’s really exciting having the new padding system in place. It will change the way we train, and certainly gives me a confidence boost. The sport’s already fast but it’s only going to get quicker, and this will allow us to push ourselves more”.
The new system will be fully in place from 7th December, as the team go into their final preparations for the Winter Olympics in February 2018.
Team GB will be announcing the selected GB Short Track athletes for the Games on the 12th December 2017 in Nottingham.