February 16, 2010 / 7:06 AM / in 8 years

Speed skating ice woes threaten green sheen

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The ultra-green sheen to speed skating at the Olympic Oval was dealt a blow on Monday when Games officials said they were bringing in a propane-powered Zamboni to replace a bulky battery-operated ice resurfacer.

<p>A worker prepares the ice during a break in the men's 500 metres speed skating race at the Richmond Olympic Oval during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 15, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>

A mechanical problem with the Olympia Ice Resurfacer delayed action for the second day in a row, causing more than an hour-long interruption in Monday’s men’s 500 meters race.

One of the two machines originally used also broke down while preparing the ice midway through the women’s 3,000 meters race at the oval, a striking new facility built on environmentally-friendly lines.

Magnus Enfeldt, Venue Operations Manager, told reporters after the conclusion of the 500 meters race that they were turning to a standard Zamboni given the problems at the oval.

”We want to apologize for this delay,“ Enfeldt said. ”The ISU (International Skating Union) referee made a decision to continue with the competition. We will take the necessary steps.

“We are now loading up an ice resurfacing machine in Calgary and it will be here tomorrow.”

SMOOTH SAILING

Enfeldt said the battery-operated machines had functioned well for a year and half at the Richmond rink though he admitted it was not smooth sailing once the Games began.

Earlier, ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta said he was reluctant to postpone the competition over the icing problem.

”We have determined there are no risks for the skaters,“ he said. ”It seems like the ice is safe so we are doing our utmost in order to maintain the full program.

”We prefer to stay with the original program because we have to consider the interests of television, TV viewers, the organization, the rights of the skaters and so on and so on.

“In sport, in technology, something can happen. We are doing the utmost.”

Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ed Osmond.

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