In April 2021, the National Speed Skating Oval opened its doors in Beijing. The Speed Skating rink, also known as the Ice Ribbon due to its slick exterior lighting beams, is the only newly built venue for the ice events at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
National Speed Skating Oval Ice Ribbon in Beijing 2021©AFP
Legacy from 2008 and beyond
Many of the existing sports facilities from the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, will be used and rebuilt for the ice events for Beijing 2022. The 2008 swimming stadium Ice Cube will host the 2022 curling events, while the 2008 Basketball Arena will be home to Ice Hockey in 2022. The National Speed Skating Oval, built by Olympically renowned architectural company Populous, is built on the former site of the 2008 archery range.
National Aquatics Center Ice Cube in Beijing 2021 ©AFP
Chinese winter sports, and Speed Skating in particular, will benefit from the Ice Ribbon not only during Beijing 2022, but for many years to come. After the Games, the facility will be transformed to serve its long-term purpose, catering for public skating and ice sports including Speed Skating.
Beijing 2022’s vision is to host a sustainable Winter Games, the Ice Ribbon, is equipped with an eco-friendly cooling system that adopts carbon dioxide as a refrigerant for the first time in Olympic history.
National Speed Skating Oval Ice Ribbon in Beijing 2020©AFP
The new system, which freezes quicker and is more stable than the old technique, helps maintain a consistent temperature, density and firmness of ice across the track, allowing skaters to push to their limits. Its low-energy operation is estimated to save 2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually compared to the old system.
Testing the ice
The first competition at the Ice Ribbon took place on April 7-10, 2021. China’s 1500m national record holder Ning Zhongyan (1:42.33) set the first 1500m track record at the new oval in 1:46.81.
The Ice Ribbon can accommodate up to 12,000 spectators (6,800 permanent and 5,200 temporary seats). There will be 14 Speed Skating medal events from February 4-20, 2022 taking place in the newest Olympic venue of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.