Fredericton prepares to host national speedskating event

A major Canadian speed skating event is coming to Fredericton later this month and will bring about 120 of Canada's best young skaters to the province.

120 competitors expected for Canadian Junior Open Selections meet at Grant-Harvey Centre

Fredericton will host the 2016 Canadian Junior Open Selection for speed skating from March 17-20. Brendan Corey of Fredericton is ranked No.1 leading up to the competition in his home town. (speedskatenb.ca)

A major Canadian short track speedskating event is coming to Fredericton later this month as the Canadian Junior Open Selections meet with bring about 120 of Canada's best young skaters to the province.

Brendan Corey of Fredericton will be among those competitors, heading into the competition in his home town ranked in first place.

The competition takes place from March 17-20 at the Grant Harvey Centre.

"It's a pretty big deal," said Devin Patterson, a member of the organizing committee. "I think it's the biggest competition we've hosted in over 20 or 25 years.

"And really, the Olympic ice surface now that we have at Grant-Harvey, it's only been there for four years, it's really allowed us to host events like this.

"Speed Skate Canada gave us immense praise for the way we put on that event."

4-day event hopes to attract new fans

The four-day event will have a number of different race lengths and will allow skaters to earn points which will affect their standings during next year's skating season.

Corey, the current No. 1 skater is from Fredericton and came second in last year's Canadian Junior Open Selection, which helped him reach the World Junior event this year in Bulgaria.

Patterson hopes that may help draw new fans to the sport.

Patterson is a former skater and coach and said many of the volunteers needed to put on this competition are either former athletes of parents of skaters.

"It's definitely a family thing, it really is in this sport. I think lots of parents are often the main volunteers for the sport, and often the coaches and then the kids do the skating and then they come and give back to the sport," he said.

The events begin each day at around 9:30 a.m. and go until about 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

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