The success of the Long Track Speed Skating World Cup in Quebec has organizers believing the ice center could eventually host a world championship.
The World Cup had not stopped in Quebec since 1982, when only the men's 1500 m and 5000 m were in action.
“It is still the long-term goal to host a world championship, but we have to take it step by step,” summarized the general director of the Quebec Speed Skating Federation and head of the organizing committee Robert Dubreuil. We're not there yet. We need to focus on our strengths, which are different from those of Calgary, Salt Lake City, Heerenveen and Norway.
There was a great atmosphere in an ice center that welcomed more than 5,000 spectators at the end of the week and was at full capacity for the last two days. “The number of seats is a factor in the ISU (International Skating Union) selection, but it is not the only one and not necessarily the most important,” said Dubreuil, who competed in his last race in his career on this occasion in 1992 at the World Championships Quebec. The atmosphere is very important for ISU.”
“By the end of the week, the ice center amphitheater was packed and it was getting hot,” Dubreuil continued. The skaters and people from ISU really enjoyed the atmosphere. There is no doubt that this is our strength, while cities like Calgary and Salt Lake City rely on the speed of their elevated ice. and Heerenveen with its 10,000 spectators.”
“We had a magical moment on Saturday. Yes, there was Laurent's (Dubreuil) medal, but we saw a great moment of sporting emotion when the crowd applauded Yuma (Murakami) after the announcer introduced him as a friend of the Dubreuil family. Yuma wrote to Laurent this morning to let him know that he was happy to be on the overall podium with him again this year.
On Sunday, after the second 500m and post-race interviews, Rose, Laurent's daughter, posed with her father and Yuma and their respective trophies.
In a brand new oval, site of the Beijing Olympics in 2022, China hosted the World Cup this year, but the atmosphere left much to be desired with only 4,000 spectators packed into a 12,000-seat stadium.
Quebec passed the test
For Dubreuil, there is no doubt that Quebec has passed the test. “The question is no longer whether Quebec can host a World Cup, but rather when the next one will be held,” he said. We don't pretend to believe that everything was perfect, but we raised the bar by two to three points compared to the Four Continents Championship that we hosted in December 2022. However, we can't relax and have to go even higher next time. ”
When can Quebec host another World Cup? “We must target the 2026-2027 season as the calendar for the next two seasons is finalized,” Dubreuil said. We will be vigilant if a city ever retreats. We want to have another World Cup as quickly as possible so as not to lose the rhythm, otherwise we will have to start from scratch.
While the success of presales confirmed that organizers had nothing to worry about, traffic at the box office is a very positive aspect. “If the stands had been empty, the scale of the event would not have been the same,” agreed Dubreuil, “and we would have remained hungry despite the quality of the athletes and the spectacle on offer.” With over 5,000 spectators over three days, we join in the ranks of major sporting events.”
Dubreuil remembers the 1982 World Championships and the 1987 World Sprint Championships. “The crowd was not big in 1982 and our biggest crowd success was on Sunday in 1987, when we could count on the presence of Gaétan Boucher, who had won three Olympic medals three years earlier won in Sarajevo.
At the end of the week Boucher was there again, but as a spectator and also to present some medals to the winners.