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  Weekly Feature (December 9, 2007)

The Richmond Speed Skating Oval
by Paul


Living in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, I often drive along a portion of River Road which parallels and is adjacent to the Richmond Oval.  This drive gives me the opportunity to watch and monitor the growth and construction activities at this magnificent site.  Seeing this Oval slowly taking its intended shape has sparked my interest in learning more about this world class facility.

 The Richmond Oval project is being built for several reasons.  It will host the long track speed skating competition for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  It will become a permanent local and international centre for excellence in sports and wellness.  As well, the Oval will act as the agent to reshape Richmond’s City Centre and promote better city and community liveability.

 With its construction underway since about September 2005, the Richmond Oval is scheduled to open in the fall of 2008.  Located within about 13 hectares of Richmond City land along the banks of the Fraser River, the Oval is just minutes away from the Vancouver International Airport.  Being built by the City of Richmond, the Richmond Oval project with its new waterfront plaza, park, and parkade, will cost $178 million (Canadian).  At about 32 000 square metres in size, the Oval will house a state-of-the-art international 400-metre long speed skating track, and provide seating for approximately 8000 spectators.  The Oval is expected to be home for up to 12 medal events in 2010, with the potential of awarding 36 medals.

In typical use, the Oval’s main activity floor will have three primary activity areas offering ice, hardwood and the indoor track area.  These will offer a full range of training and competitive opportunities for both summer and winter sports.  The Oval will offer a complete range of sports medicine, wellness services, activity areas, and it will house a major fitness centre along with retail and food services.  The Oval facility will subsequently become the focus of Richmond’s new waterfront neighbourhood featuring residential, commercial and public development.

The Richmond Oval’s gigantic roof is of particular interest because it displays a unique design.  The Oval will be the first building in the world to feature a one-of-a-kind wave design built exclusively from wood.  Such a wooden roof structure, built primarily from British Columbia lumber, will help filter much of the nearby airport noise, and help reduce expansion and contraction of the Oval facility.  Furthermore, such an extensive use of British Columbia lumber, a natural material, is consistent with the goal of constructing and operating the Oval with environmentally sensitive approaches.

The Richmond Oval will indeed be an important legacy for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  The Oval will also have significant social, recreational, and financial benefits for the City of Richmond, the Province of British Columbia, and the Government of Canada.  Richmond’s goal toward becoming a more appealing, better managed and healthier community, will certainly be facilitated by the Oval.

Be sure to try the quiz below!

Links for reference and further details:

Richmond Oval Site – Construction Photographs

Click here for a 360 degree flight around the Richmond Oval

Vancouver 2010 – Richmond Oval

City of Richmond – Richmond Oval

British Columbia – News Release

Media Room – Richmond Oval


Quiz: The Richmond Oval

Try an Interactive Online Version of The Richmond Oval Quiz

1.  The interest in the Richmond Oval was sparked by

      a) the weather.

      b) the wooden roof of the Oval.

      c) the Oval starting to take shape.

2.  The Oval is being built for only one reason.

      a) false.

      b) true.

3.  The Oval will become a permanent __________ centre for excellence in sports and wellness.

      a) local

      b) international

      c) local and international

4.  The Oval is __________ the Vancouver International Airport.

      a) very far from

      b) very close to

5.  The speed skating track for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games will measure ________ in


      a) 100 m

      b) 400 m

      c) 300 m

6.  The Oval will offer training and competitive opportunities for ________ sports.

      a) summer

      b) summer and winter

      c) winter

      d) fall

7.  The adverb “subsequently” in “The Oval facility will subsequently become the focus of Richmond’s new waterfront neighbourhood” means

      a) immediately

      b) tomorrow

      c) later

8.  The design of the gigantic roof covering the Oval

      a) is common.

      b) has not been used before.

      c) is used in Europe.

9.  Richmond’s goal is to construct and operate the Oval with special consideration for the environment.

      a) true.

      b) false.

10. The Oval will benefit the City of Richmond, the Province of British Columbia, and the Canadian Government.

      a) false.

      b) not mentioned in the reading.

      c) true.

Answers: 1) c.  2) a.  3) c.  4) b.  5) b.  6) b.  7) c.  8) b.  9) a.  10) c.


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