Speedskating resumes after ice resurfacing delay

RICHMOND, British Columbia (AP) — Problems with three ice-resurfacing machines at the speedskating venue caused a lengthy delay Monday during the men's 500 meters, and Vancouver Olympic officials are sending in a different machine to avoid future trouble.

Two machines are used to clean the ice, but the Richmond Olympic Oval was down to just one because of problems with the other. Then the second one acted up after the first 10 pairs completed their opening 500 race.

A third backup machine without Olympic logos was sent out, but it also failed to perform a smooth resurfacing. After an hour-long delay, one of the Olympic logo machines reappeared and resurfaced the ice.

The competition resumed with the final 10 pairs about an hour later.

A Zamboni used at the Olympic Oval in Calgary was on its way to Richmond and should arrive Tuesday, according to Magnus Enfeldt, general manager of the Richmond Oval.

"We're doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again," he said at a news conference Monday night. "Our goal is always to provide the best field of play for the athletes."

Enfeldt said the three Olympia brand machines have been used for 1½ years in Richmond. Another smaller Olympia machine is also kept here, and Olympia machines are in use at other Olympic venues.

"We just recently started having problems," he said. "Sprint skaters chew up the ice a lot more than distance skaters."

The women's 500 is set for Tuesday.

"Bad ice is bad ice," said American Shani Davis, who was 18th after the first of two rounds. "You've got to be ready for anything."

Davis withdrew before the second round to focus on Wednesday's 1,000 meters, where he's favored to win a gold medal.

"It was a technical problem, and we have now determined that there are no risks for the skaters," ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta said. "The ice must be safe. It seems that the ice is safe, and therefore we are doing the utmost to maintain the program."

Cinquanta said there was discussion about postponing the men's sprint to another day.

"But you are a skater, you prepare yourself to skate twice in the same day," he said. "Then someone tells you, 'Oh, the first race is today, the other one is in two days.' You'd say, 'C'mon, what is that?' We are trying to stay with the language of the rules."

Arie Koops, sporting director of Dutch speedskating, said he believed the third machine wasn't ready to be used.

"When skaters are not prepared for a race you don't send them out. It should be the same with the resurfacing machine," he said. "If one machine was broken, they should have prepared the third. It was standing there in the garage. I have never seen anything like this."

There was a brief delay after the third pairing in the second round to repair the ice when a Polish skater fell.


Associated Press Writer Raf Casert contributed to this report.