Ice sports: NZ speed skating team to be based in Dunedin

Give another tick to the Dunedin Ice Stadium. It keeps attracting the elite and the latest good news is the decision to base the New Zealand speed skating team in Dunedin from next year.

The national president of New Zealand Ice Speed Skating, Rosemarie Nye, of Auckland, wants the best skaters in the country to train on the perfect ice in Dunedin.

She was impressed by the high quality of the ice at the New Zealand Winter Games and is encouraging the best junior speed skaters to study at the University of Otago next year and train at the stadium.

"I want to bring the centre of development of speed skating to Dunedin," she told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

"The facilities are amazing. The quality of the ice is world class, the rink management is helpful and the outlook is accommodating."

The quality of the ice and the facilities at the Dunedin Ice Stadium have received praise from New Zealand Winter Games competitors in figure skating and ice hockey.

The curlers like it too and several overseas teams, including the world champion Chinese women's team, trained in Dunedin before the Winter Games in Naseby.

Korea is already planning to spend three months in Dunedin next year to develop its younger figure skaters and the Japanese skaters are putting out feelers as well.

New Zealand speed skating is putting together a four-year programme towards the 2014 Winter Olympics and wants the centre of development to be based in Dunedin.

Nye has had talks with Ashley Light, the manager of Winter Sports at the New Zealand Academy of Sport (South Island).

"We need help, direction and guidance and need sports science support," Nye said.

The chief executive of the New Zealand Academy of Sport (South Island) Kereyn Smith welcomed the news and said the academy would give it all the support it needed.

"The facilities in Otago for winter sports are fabulous and our snow sports centre is based in Wanaka," Smith said.

"It seems logical that the ice sports should be based in Dunedin."

At present, three of the top four New Zealand speed skaters are training in Canada while Matt Fuller is based in Dunedin.

"We are encouraging the three skaters in Canada to re-locate to Dunedin and do some of their training here."

There are are two world class ice facilities in Otago with the Dunedin Ice Stadium and the Maniototo International Curling Rink.

Nye is a board member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee and a national selector for the Winter Olympics.

She expects New Zealand to have a team of between 18 and 24 competing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics next year.

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