Smoothing over long delays on the speed skating track

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Smoothing over long delays on the speed skating track

VANCOUVER - Maintaining the high standard of the speed skating track has become the Vancouver Games organizers’ top priority since problems developed with a different brand of ice resurfacer, they said on Tuesday.

The two existing Olympia Ice Resurfacers at the Richmond Oval have broken down since Monday, leading to long delays in the competitions and embarrassing the organizers.

“The most important thing right now is to put the best ice machine into the Oval,” said Games spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade.

Olympics officials decided late on Monday to bring in a propane-powered Zamboni from Calgary to replace the bulky battery-operated Olympias. Earlier a mechanical problem with the Olympia delayed action for the second day in a row, causing a 90-minute interruption in the men’s 500-meter race. Mo Tae-bum credited his ability to keep cool during the delay for his shocking win on Tuesday.

One of the Olympias also broke down while preparing the ice midway through the women’s 3,000-meter race in the oval, a striking new facility built on environmentally-friendly lines.

“The large ones have been causing problems,” Smith-Valade said, adding that Mark Messer, the man in charge of ice quality, was more used to working with the Zamboni. Messer, who usually works taking care of the Calgary track, was also responsible for the track at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

The Zamboni arrived late on Tuesday and organizers were rushing to get it ready in time for the men’s 1,000-meter competition.

“It’s in good working condition and we’ll get it operational as soon as possible, even for tomorrow’s races,” operations manager Magnus Enfeldt told reporters. Reuters
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