The National Speed Skating Oval ready for Beijing 2022
The only newly-built ice venue for Beijing 2022, the National Speed Skating Oval, dubbed the "Ice Ribbon", is all set to usher in the upcoming Winter Games, said an official with the venue operation team on Sunday.
"Almost every overseas athlete getting in here does one thing first: take pictures," said Zhou Qiurui, deputy venue manager of the "Ice Ribbon".
According to Zhou, a total of 166 speed skaters from 27 countries and regions are set to compete at Beijing 2022, and athletes from 17 countries and regions have already practised on the ice as of Sunday.
"Though we are under huge pressure from the pandemic, the Games will definitely go smoothly if our athletes and referees are all kept safe," Zhou said, adding that it is not easy for athletes to qualify for the Olympics, so their safety must be ensured.
The positive feedback on the ice, which is a key factor for skaters to achieve good results, has reassured Zhou. "None of the athletes have complained, and we have earned much praise for the ice and our organization."
"I'm very impressed by the 'Ice Ribbon'. I think it's very bright and very big. And I like the readiness and enthusiasm of all of these volunteers," said Russian skater Olga Fatkulina.
Chinese skater Ning Zhongyan echoed that the facilities can help him reach top form at the Games. "The venue is big and beautiful, I think it can inspire me to compete at my best level."
A few test events will be held in the coming days to help athletes get used to the ice, Zhou said, noting that organizers can also check whether the ice is good enough through the skaters' performances.