From: Jennifer Hanson, thenorthbaybay.ca staff
NORTH BAY — “Nothing tastes sweeter than a championship,” and it seems North Bay has had a taste and likes it.
Local sports promoter Colleen Belle announced today that North Bay will be hosting the 2019 Kia World Speed Skating Championships.
“Hosting the 2018 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship has opened so many doors for North Bay,” says Belle. “Before the Women’s Curling Championship we were best known as the town that helped produce Chris Neil, so this is some pretty big news.”
The 2019 Kia World Speed Skating Championships will see some of the greatest speed skaters participate in the 500 m sprint, 1000 m sprint, team pursuit, mass start, lunging death tag, and speed skating long leap on both a long track and a short track.
“The tracks are actually where we ran into some trouble,” says Belle. “Memorial Gardens is a beautiful arena, but unfortunately it’s not big enough to fit all of our events. So we had to get a little creative.”
Belle explains that the 1000 m sprint, team pursuit, and mass start will all take place on Lakeshore Drive.
“Like, literally on Lakeshore Drive.”
An Ice Year for Sports
Starting in late 2018, one half of Lakeshore Drive from the Tim Hortons by the overpass to the McDonald’s will be blocked off and flooded in an attempt to create the perfect speed skating ice surface.
“Just imagine driving down Lakeshore and looking out your window to see speed skaters flying past you at 55 km/hour, which will happen because they’ll actually be moving faster than your car does on Lakeshore.”
City officials have begun issuing warnings concerning the blocking off of two lanes on Lakeshore Drive over the winter of 2019, as well as the closure of all of Algonquin Avenue during the same time.
“Oh, that’s for the 2019 Bugatti Bobsleigh World Cup and the 2018-2019 Aston Martin & no name® International Skeleton Championships.”
“2018 and 2019 are going to be incredible years for sport in North Bay.”
City Councillor Vic Tikus, interim Chair of Engineering, Public Works and Environmental Service, is a “strong supporter” of blocking off both city streets, but warned that hosting world class sports championships might put a strain on the city’s budget for snow removal.
“Actually, ‘strain’ isn’t really the right word. It’s totally depleted. Yesterday, we put everything we had into getting these events, including our winter maintenance funds for 2018, 2019, and 2020. So, um, drive safe everyone and enjoy the sports!”
The Kia World Speed Skating Championships are expected to start in mid-February of 2019, while official Bobsleigh and Skeleton Championship dates are yet to be announced.