Annual Report

The Olympic Oval's Annual Report for the 2020-2021 Season.

Director's Message — Peter McCrory

Empower All to Achieve Excellence Through a Pandemic

The Olympic Oval’s purpose statement speaks to how we navigated the unchartered waters of this global pandemic. This year has been the year of all years, for the least desirable reasons. However, our greatest strength throughout this pandemic has been our people.

As I took the helm of a ‘shut-down’ Olympic Oval just as the global pandemic was taking a foothold in the country, competitions were fading, and opportunities for training were none. Initially, international travel ceased for athletes, and the business of the Olympic Oval was shrinking fast. So, working with our University of Calgary colleagues, our first order of business as the Olympic Oval team was to put plans in place to re-open and to provide opportunities for athletes to resume training in the facility. We all know what was to unfold: a constantly changing series of restrictions as the pandemic spread across the world, challenging the Olympic Oval team and our sport partners to find ways to maximize the opportunities for athletes to train within the public health guidelines. To put it mildly, this was no easy undertaking. I commend the work of the Olympic Oval team and all stakeholders involved for their collaboration, resilience, and patience in working with us to find opportunities for athletes to re-access the Olympic Oval.

Click on any accordion section below to read more about the Director's Message.

Peter McCrory - Director, Olympic Oval

Peter McCrory - Director, Olympic Oval

The Olympic Oval is entering its 34th year of operations and is one of the top three priority capital projects on the University of Calgary’s Capital List. Originally designed to be in operation for twenty-five years, it is a real testament to the care and attention the Operations team has given the building since its inception. However, the slab and ice plant needs a critical and urgent upgrade, as we saw in 2020.

Having installed the ice in late July 2020, on September 5, 2020, we discovered a failure in our mechanical equipment, requiring us to immediately shut down ice production for the longest time in the facility’s history. Coupled with the pandemic limiting access to facilities, this was a significant setback for all athletes and coaches. As this was the third such failure in four years, we wanted to ensure we did the necessary due diligence to prevent this from happening again. While that outcome is never a guarantee, we could procure upgraded and more recent equipment and plan to be operational by June 2021.  

As we progressed through the pandemic, we found many ways to get creative. Athletes, coaches, and managers adapted their training plans. For the first time, the Olympic Oval slab was used for in-line skating. As we reached winter and lakes began to freeze, we also saw athletes skating on our beautiful Alberta lakes. We travelled to the outdoor Oval in Red Deer to capitalize on some long-track opportunities. The Olympic Oval’s Operation team worked successfully with the townsite of Redwood Meadows (located within the TsuuT'ina Nation) to set up and provide the inaugural outdoor 333m oval ice surface within the town. This facility provided a much-needed venue for our Olympic Oval athletes and sport partners to continue to train. The Redwood Meadows Oval was also an excellent venue for the general public and clubs to skate, thus providing many opportunities to improve mental and physical wellbeing and have some respite from being stuck indoors while continuing to grow the sport.

I want to take the opportunity to recognize the Olympic Oval Elite Athlete Pathway coaching and athlete team and our Integrated Support team from the University of Calgary and the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary for their contributions and perseverance to work collaboratively through the challenges of the last year. Training programs were constantly changing with the shifting sands of the pandemic. Interestingly, with some of the changes to the daily training environment and training methods, we saw significant improvements in training performances once we were able to access ice. We were acutely aware of the possible detrimental impact on athlete engagement that pandemic might have had on athletes. Through the appointment of our athlete representative, Ashley Hannah, we provided engagement opportunities for the athletes to help support them.

I was delighted to work with Catriona Le May Doan, Stacey Polet, and former Oval Skater Kurt Buhler to award athlete bursaries this year. And a big thank you to Nick’s Steakhouse and all those that donate each year, for the ongoing support of the Bursary program, especially during these difficult times. To date, that program has given away over $200,000 to support athletes and alleviate the athlete’s financial pressures of training and competition. 

As we all hope to see an exit to the pandemic and put 2020 behind us, we can only look to the future. Our full intention is to provide a fully operational facility for training and, if permitted, competitions for the 2021 season. We are excited to see Canada’s National Long-Track team resume training in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2022. Aligned to the Olympic Oval’s mandate, we look forward to providing opportunities for domestic and international high-performance teams, University and non-varsity clubs, our community clubs and our sport partners. We intend to resume training and competing, even if our future environment might look different from the ‘normal’ of the past. In parallel, we will be actively seeking funds to undertake essential capital improvements to the building. Additionally, we will need the help of the Olympic Oval community (both current and former) to pursue capital resources. 

As the Director of the Olympic Oval and on behalf of the Faculty of Kinesiology leadership group, I would like to acknowledge and recognize the efforts of the whole Olympic Oval team this year. It has been a tremendously taxing year for all, prompting us to re-think how we conduct our business and sport while striving to provide a world-class facility in the middle of a global pandemic. Our University of Calgary colleagues, the Calgary sport and recreational community, our sport partners, sponsors, coaches, athletes, and parents have all played a significant role in working together, supporting each other, and getting us to this point to get through this pandemic. We are poised and ready for a return to sport, thanks to you.

Our Mission

Our Mission

The Olympic Oval is a world-class speed skating and high performance sports facility dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and health and wellness for all.

Our Vision

Our Vision

Together with our partners, we will drive the mission of Canadian athlete podium performances.

Core Values

Our Values

Passion, Quality, Honesty, Respect, and Enjoyment. These are the values that represent our team of people and on which the Fastest Ice in the World.

Our Story

As a direct result of the 1988 Olympics, the Faculty of Kinesiology is able to develop a world-class environment for research and learning as well as build superb training facilities for coaches and athletes at the varsity, community and Olympic level.

Kinesiology students receive high-quality and relevant, experiential learning opportunities that inform their future careers and contribute to research and scholarship in the faculty and university. 

A Home for Many

The Faculty is home to the Olympic Oval as well as the successful Dinos varsity teams, Active Living, Outdoor Centre and the Sport Medicine Centre.

The Faculty works to improve the health and mobility of our society through our renowned research, providing evidence of the benefits of exercise for all ages.

Find out more about the Faculty of Kinesiology by visiting their news page — Learn more

No. 1 Ranking

In 2020, the prestigious Shanghai Ranking Academy rated the Faculty of Kinesiology’s research in sport science as the best in North America – for the second time. Out of 429 universities globally that specialize in sport science, Kinesiology was 11th. This ranking measures the quality and breadth of our research.

While we are proud of the calibre of our scholarship, we’re even prouder of how it improves the health of Calgarians, Albertans and other Canadians. Read the article to learn more. 

No. 1 Sport Science School North America

The roots of ice skating date back over 1,000 years to the frozen canals and waterways of Scandinavia and the Netherlands when men laced animal bones to their footwear and glided across frozen lakes and rivers. Read More

Elite Athlete Pathway

The Elite Athlete Pathway at The Olympic Oval has been in operation since 1989. It was previously called the Oval Program but the name evolved to fit the Pathway model.


The Pandemic

The 2020/2021 season proved to be the most challenging year in the history of the Olympic Oval. However, our athletes proved that not even a pandemic or facility accessibility could stop them from training in innovative or creative ways. Their steadfastness and resiliency are a testament to athletic excellence. 

As the pandemic rolled out, athletes worked out from home via Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. These included weights, imitations and biking. 

Innovation

Coaches needed to be creative to keep the athletes engaged continually. It was a complicated problem to overcome. Regional restrictions changed weekly, which forced programs to change constantly. However, athletes were able to train outdoors with cross-country skiing, hiking, and cycling.

Virtual Athletes Forum was also created to help communicate with athletes and parents as well.

Athlete Representative

Athlete representatives play a major role in the governance and management of the Elite Athlete Pathway and the relationship with the Olympic Oval. This year, long track athlete Ashley Hannah was chosen to play this role during the pandemic year. 

Numbers

For the 2020/2021 season, the Elite Athlete Pathway had 79 full-time athletes, of which 36 were Short Track athletes and 43 were Long Track athletes. Our athletes come from all across Canada to train at the Olympic Oval. In addition, we had four international athletes from Columbia, The Netherlands and New Zealand. 

For the 2021/2022 season, we already have 81 athletes registered into the program. We anticipate more registrations as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift worldwide.

Long Track

  1. Winsport Racing

    With limited options to race, Long Track athletes were forced to do Short Track races at Winsport. It's never an ideal situation but this proved to be an effective training option.

  2. Red Deer Racing

    Athletes were able to race at Setters Place at Great Chief Park in Red Deer. This facility was used for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. It's a fantastic outdoor facility and provided a temporary solution to the Oval's mechanical failure and the fact that indoor training was often put on hold due to COVID-19. Short Track athletes were also able to compete in long track races.

  3. Redwood Meadows Training

    The townsite of Redwood Meadows was able to provide, with special permission, a training environment for our athletes. Between Red Deer and Redwood Meadows, ice training was still able to happen.

  4. Our Coaches

    Arno Hoogveld
    Long Track Stage 3 Coach
    Mike Ireland
    Long Track Stage 3 Coach
    Todd McClements
    Long Track Stage 4 Coach
    Justin Warsylewicz
    Long Track Stage 2 Coach

Short Track

  1. Training

    Due to the Oval's mechanical failure and COVID-19, our short track athletes were able to train at Winsport and YMCA Rocky Ridge (from October to December). 

  2. Redwood Meadows Training

    The townsite of Redwood Meadows was able to provide, with special permission, a training environment for our athletes. Between Red Deer and Redwood Meadows, ice training was still able to happen.

  3. Winsport Racing

    With limited options to race, Short Track athletes were still able to race at Winsport. With its proximity to the Oval, this proved to be an effective short-term solution. 

  4. Our Coaches

    Cristina Lazarescu
    Stage 3 & 4 Coach
    Dustin Miller
    Stage 3 & 4 Coach
    Elizabeth Ward
    Stage 2 Coach
    Joffrey Laroque
    Stage 2 Coach

The Olympic Oval is enormously grateful for the services, support and availability made by WinSport, Setter's Place, the YMCA, and Redwood Meadows. Their support helped out athletes to ensure they could train successfully throughout this pandemic year.

Alayne Hing

Alayne Hing

Mental Performance — Alayne works alongside athletes and coaches from amateur to professional, to help them achieve their peak potential through mental performance consultation. Her expertise includes team dynamics, emotional control, LGBTQ2 & diverse populations, motivation/activation, relaxation/anxiety reduction, deliberate practice and crisis intervention.

Canadian Sport Institute

Kelly-Anne Erdman

Kelly-Anne Erdman

Nutrition — Kelly-Anne’s areas of expertise include: training diet, competition nutrition, sport supplementation, adjusting body composition, managing food allergies and intolerances, as well as other dietary constraints athletes may have, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Canadan Sport Institute

Matt Zukowski

Matt Zukowski

Strength and Conditioning

Matt Zukowski

Juan Murias

Juan Murias

High Performance Lab — Dr. Juan Murias and his team are interested in determining the most effective exercise training programs for promoting health as well as for improving performance. The main goal of their research is related to the use of exercise training interventions as “medicine” to prevent or alleviate the detrimental effects of aging and disease on cardiovascular function.

Juan Murias

Victor Lun

Victor Lun

Medical Dr. — As a sport medicine physician, Dr. Victor Lun's role is to maintain the health of athletes to achieve optimal performance.

Canadian Sport Institute

Matt Jordan

Matt Jordan

Strength and conditioning — Dr. Matt Jordan is a coach and applied sport scientist working with international athletes for over six Olympic Winter Games. His research focuses on neuromuscular adaptations to resistance training and ACL injury/re-injury prevention in elite athletes.

Canadian Sport Institute

Initiatives for the Year


Collaboration

The Olympic Oval has been collaborating with the Alberta Speed Skating Association and local clubs (the Calgary Speed Skating Association and the Calgary Grizzlies) to develop speed skating in the Calgary area.

As with most sport activities in the country, this has been a challenging year for Calgary area speed skating clubs. It is, therefore, exciting to see the continued membership growth which is indicative of great things to come.

Training During COVID-19

When restrictions were permitted, members of the local clubs participated in short track speed skating at the Olympic Oval and Calgary area indoor and outdoor venues. Athletes and coaches procured some very creative solutions to continue club programming, including indoor/outdoor (i.e. inline skating and dryland) training and online/virtual offerings.

Fundraising

All of the clubs undertook significant fundraising efforts to minimize deficits to their respective budgets. This initiative was successful and ensured that the clubs could continue for the 2021/2022 season.

Growth Opportunities

All of the clubs are working hard to increase participation and grow the sport of speed skating. 

Speed Skating Clubs and Associations in Calgary

Calgary Speed Skating Association

The Calgary Speed Skating Association (CSSA) offers a variety of programs tailored to skaters of all ages and abilities, from the very young (ages 6+) to the young at heart (seniors/masters).

The CSSA trains and competes at the Olympic Oval.

Learn more

Calgary Grizzlies Speed Skating Club

The Grizzlies Speed Skating Club provides Short track and Long track speed skating for athletes ages 4 - 20+ years old. 

The Grizzlies train at the Rocky Ridge YMCA and at the Olympic Oval.

Learn more

Seton Club Development

The Calgary Speed Skating Association, the Calgary Grizzlies Speed Skating Club, the Olympic Oval and the Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association are working collaboratively to offer speed skating in this new venue in the south, and the goal is that these efforts will spearhead the formation of a third club in Calgary. 

Learn more

2020 Recipients

The following Elite Oval Athlete Pathway skaters are the recipients of the 2020/2021 Olympic Oval Bursary; Wren Acorn, Jess Neufeld, Alexa Scott, Brendan Yamada, Kaleb Muller, Cooper Emin, Joshua Hathaway, Anders Johnson, Benjamin Ward, Roger Fulton, Ethan McKinley-Young, Kiersten Hagan, Cassidy Peterson, Jack Diebert, Jonah Hurtubise, Paul Coderre, and Sylvia Kolodzieczk. 

Enjoy public skating on The Fastest Ice in the World. We look forward to seeing you for the 2021/2022 season — Watch video

The ISU (International Skating Union) decided to hold a pair of Long Track World Cups and the World Speed Skating Championships at the Thialf arena in Heerenveen, the Netherlands. It was in a pandemic 'Bubble' which ensured a safe training and competition environment with strict COVID-19 protocols. Only athletes, coaches and competition staff were permitted in the most secure level of the ‘Bubble.' Media, volunteers, and support staff were permitted in Level 2. It proved to be very successful with zero infections. 

Twin World Cups

Ladies Team Pursuit

Ladies Team Pursuit — Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann, and Valérie Maltais

Canada's Performance

No ice, no problem. Canadian athletes were challenged with major training hurdles — a worldwide pandemic and a mechanical failure at the Olympic Oval. This did not soften their resolve as athletes amped up their dryland training and managed to train outdoors in places such as Ghost Lake, AB. In the end, Canada performed extremely well capturing eleven medals over the twin World Cups.

Heerenveen, Netherlands
January 21-23, 2021

  1. Team Pursuit Men

    BRONZE
    Ted Jan Bloemen
    Jordan Belchos
    Connor Howe
    3:41.711

  2. Ladies Team Pursuit

    GOLD
    Ivanie Blondin
    Isabelle Weidemann
    Valérie Maltais
    2:56.718

  3. Ladies 500m

    BRONZE
    Heather McLean
    37.368

  4. Mens 500m

    SILVER
    Laurent Dubreuil
    34.650

  5. Ladies Mass Start

    SILVER
    Ivanie Blondin
    8:34.460

Heerenveen, Netherlands
January 28-30, 2021

  1. Team Pursuit Men

    SILVER
    Ted Jan Bloemen
    Jordan Belchos
    Connor Howe
    3:39.943

  2. Team Pursuit Ladies

    GOLD
    Ivanie Blondin
    Isabelle Weidemann
    Valérie Maltais
    2:56.718

  3. 1st Mens 500m

    SILVER
    Laurent Dubreuil
    34.520

  4. 2nd Mens 500m

    BRONZE
    Laurent Dubreuil
    34.594

  5. Ladies Mass Start

    SILVER
    Ivanie Blondin
    8:21.770

  6. Mens 1,000m

    BRONZE
    Laurent Dubreuil
    1:08.185

World Championships

Laurent Dubreuil

1000m — Laurent Dubreuil

Taking Home Five Medals

After pulling off nine medals during the World Cup phase, Canadian athletes produced another five medals during the World Speed Skating Championships. It was a spectacular end to a tough training season. It also sets Canada as a major medal threat for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games in 2022. 

Heerenveen, Holland
February 10-13, 2021

  1. Ladies Team Pursuit

    SILVER
    Ivanie Blondin
    Isabelle Weidemann
    Valérie Maltais
    2:55.973

  2. Mens Team Pursuit

    SILVER
    Ted-Jan Bloemen
    Jordan Belchos
    Connor Howe
    3:41.711

  3. Mens 500m

    GOLD
    Laurent Dubreuil
    34.398

  4. Mens 1000m

    BRONZE
    Laurent Dubreuil
    1:08.569

  5. Mass Start Ladies

    SILVER
    Ivanie Blondin
    8:43.260

The CoE

The Centre of Excellence is a hub where coaches, officials, and skaters contribute and engage in various seminars, webinars, and workshops.

Slide Boards

The slide boards and the heavy sled are critical to building strength in speed skating training positions.

Bungee System

The bungee system in short track training is another critical tool for short track training and a very effective tool for maintain tension.

UCalgary Dinos

The Olympic Oval is part of the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. Many people do not realize that our facility is a training ground for more than just speed skating. The Dinos are an integral part of the high-performance training environment, and each team contributes to the Oval's standards of excellence.


Dino's Football

In 2019, the Dinos football team overcame injuries, with at least eight all-stars or All-Canadians missing one game or more, capture their fifth national championship in program history, and first since 1995, with a 27-13 triumph over Montreal in the Vanier Cup.

Dino's Women's Hockey

The Dinos women's hockey defied all expectations in 2019-20, after being predicted to finish last in a preseason coaches’ poll, and won 18 games – an improvement of 13 victories over their previous season mark.

Dino's Track & Field

The Dinos Track & Field teams had stellar 2020 seasons, with the men's team winning Canada West and the women finishing second in the conference. The men also placed second at the national championships – their best finish in program history.

Non-Varsity Clubs Who Train at the Olympic Oval

Operations Projects

The Operations Team at the Oval managed to complete some significant mechanical and operational projects.


Chiller Replacement

The most significant operational project was the replacement of the chillers. Due to a mechanical failure in 2020, the Olympic Oval was forced to shut down until the chillers could be replaced. It was an enormous project involving numerous key players, suppliers, and teams to ensure the project was completed with newer, more efficient models.

Brine Piping System

The brine piping system required some repairs during the 2020/2021 season. The main project involved removing contaminants from the brine system to allow for better flow and heat transfer. Additionally, repairs and replacements for key components were necessary that had reached their operable life span.

Dehumidification System

The Oval's dehumidification systems required some upgraded maintenance and repairs to keep the systems running efficiently.

Building Heating System

The building's heating system also required some upgrades and maintenance. These are necessary to keep the equipment functional and efficient.

The New Chiller

The New Chiller

Brine Piping

Brine Piping System

Dehumidification Air Conditioning Coils

Dehumidification Air Conditioning Coils

The 2020/2021 Season

The Skate Shop was able to modify its operations by offering online sales and curb side pickup as well as revised sales and service as restrictions were on-again and off-again. 

Online Shopping

Online sales continued throughout the year with robust sales during the holiday season. Customers were able to order any product online and shipping was free for any order over $100.

Visit us online

Curb Side Pickup

When certain restriction were lifted, the Skate Shop was able to offer curb side pickup for customers and athletes who needed skate sharpening services as well as sales and merchandise. It proved to be effective as the distance from the curb to the skate shop was only 100m.

Skate Rentals

During the pandemic year, the Skate Shop was able to offer skate rentals to club skaters as a way to help offset their challenges during the pandemic. 

Did you know — the Skate Shop rents over 50,000 pairs of skates and sharpens over 10,000 skate blades per year — Learn more

Have you trained at the Olympic Oval?

The Olympic Oval considers its alumni to be anyone who trained as part of the Oval’s speed skating programs. It is an inclusive community of former speed skaters whose link to the University of Calgary is solidified by their experience at the Oval.

You are the expert!

As experts in the sport, we value the contribution and the role of our Oval alumni in the ongoing development of Oval program athletes and the development of our next generation skaters. The Oval has begun re-engaging former skaters to bring them back to the building to take part in skating once again – whether in coaching, skating with their kids on Family Day, or watching the action during and re-connecting with former teammates at a World Cup.

We need your help!

Oval Alumni are afforded certain benefits, and we continue to look to draw on them for their expertise and their abilities to ignite the speed skating community. We are indebted to our Alumni for continuing to contribute to the sport as ambassadors and role models. Thank you to all!

If it’s been a while since you heard from the Oval, be sure to visit our alumni page and update your contact info to receive the latest updates, event invitations, and more.

More Information

Watch Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes, Cindy Klassen, Christine Nesbitt and Shannon Rempel be inducted into the Olympic Oval's Hall of Champions — Watch video

During the beginning of the pandemic, the Olympic Oval hosted three webinars to help athletes, coaches, and staff navigate resilience and mental well-being, injuries and recovery and safe return to sport.

Community Webinar Engagement

The Olympic Oval hosted a series of seminars during the pandemic year focusing on a selection of topics to help athletes, coaches, and staff cope with all the changes that were happening. 

Resilience and Mental Well-Being

Resilience and Mental Well-Being

Moderated by Olympic Oval Director Peter McCrory, this webinar featured six-time Olympian and Bell Let’s Talk founding spokesperson Clara Hughes, mental performance consultant Alayne Hing, and long distance runner, Rilee Many Bears.

Resilience and Mental Well-Being

Resilience and Mental Well-Being

This was a panel discussion with Olympic Oval Director, Peter McCrory; Active Living and Outdoor Centre Director, Albert Iamartino; and Sport Calgary President and CEO, Catriona Le May Doan.

Sport Injuries and Prevention

Sport Injuries and Prevention

This webinar focused on a safe return to sport and recreation activities — specifically a conversation with participants, coaches, and parents who were keen to get back in action.

Nick's Steakhouse

Sponsors and Partners

Thank you to our valued partners and sponsors for your generosity. Your support is vital and greatly assists us to deliver world-class competitions, programs, and events. The Olympic Oval is grateful for your ongoing commitment and we look forward to working together in the future.

Nick's Steakhouse has been a long-time supporter of the Oval Athlete Bursary. Owner Mark Petros believes in the Power of Sport and contributing back to the community — Watch video

Contact Us

We want to hear from you!

Mailing Address

Olympic Oval
University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, AB
T2N 1N4

Courier Address
188 Collegiate Blvd. NW

Telephone and Email

Main: (403) 220-7954
Email: oval@ucalgary.ca

Skate Shop: (403) 220-7917
Email: ovalshop@ucalgary.ca

Email us

Social Media

Facebook @theolympicoval
Instagram @theolympicoval
Twitter @theolympicoval
YouTube.com/theolympicoval

View some of the Olympic Oval's previous Annual Reports.

2019-2020 Report

Click on the link below to view/download the Olympic Oval's 2019-2020 Annual Report.

2018-2019 Report

Click on the link below to view/download the Olympic Oval's 2018-2019 Annual Report.

2017-2018 Report

Click on the link below to view/download the Olympic Oval's 2017-2018 Annual Report.

The 2020-2021 season will go down as one of the most unprecedented years in the Olympic Oval’s history. Getting through the global pandemic could not have been done without the support from our staff, athletes, sponsors, partners, volunteers, the University of Calgary and Calgarians. As we hope to exit the pandemic, we look forward to welcoming the public, athletes, and teams back into this incredible world-class facility.

Peter McCrory

Director, Olympic Oval