Ice Skating: Ice stadium esteem coup for Dunedin

Korea's decision to hold a figure skating training camp at the Dunedin Ice Stadium next year is a coup for Dunedin, which is poised to become the ice sports capital of the southern hemisphere.

Since it was opened five years ago, the stadium has been used by international curling teams training for major events and the Australian curling championships.

The city has also staged world championships in ice hockey and curling, and this weekend will host Winter Games figure skating.

The Koreans want to bring 10 Olympic-standard skaters to Dunedin from May to July next year to train four hours a day at the stadium.

"If you build world-class facilities, people will come from overseas to use them," Dunedin Ice Stadium manager Neil Gamble told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

"The benefits to the city will be huge. It will be worth $54,000 in ice fees alone. There are also motel costs and food."

Gamble said figure skaters loved the size of the stadium and the quality of the ice surface.

"Our ice surface is the best in the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere people tell us that it is up to the best world standard," he said.

"The Australian ice hockey team has played 25 tests this year and rate the stadium as the best they have played in."

The Dunedin Ice Stadium will host its second international event at the Winter Games when the figure skating starts tomorrow afternoon.

Stadium staff have been busy changing the stadium from an ice hockey venue and getting it ready for figure skating.

"We had to soften the ice by 1.5degC to minus 3.5degC," Gamble said.

"The surface has to be hard and fast for ice hockey and we had to turn the compressor down to get the surface ready for the figure skating."

There has also been a change on the perimeter of the arena with the ice hockey scoring box removed and the glass taken out so coaches can talk to the skaters.

An off-ice warm-up area has also been put in place for the skaters.

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