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Live news and results on Feb. 16 2022

General view of the National Speed Skating Oval on Feb. 1. (Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images/Getty Images)The Winter Olympics are a global Games for athletes, but that’s also true of the people working behind the scenes at Beijing 2022. Canadians Mark Peter Messer and Matthew James Messer are the men responsible for ice making at the National Speed Skating Oval. Both worked on the ice in PyeongChang in 2018, and four years later they’ve been intent on providing record-breaking surfaces.But, Mark — widely regarded as the finest ice-maker on the planet — believes that the ice in the National Speed Skating Oval is even faster than the one they made in South Korea, as evidenced by the fact a number of Olympic speed skating records have already been broken in Beijing.“We have been very successful with our records,” he said during a press conference. “We have records in almost every distance. We’re getting very good feedback from the athletes and from the coaches that we have made a good surface for them to perform on.”A process that began almost immediately after the last Winter Olympics, they have been working with a small team from Canada alongside local ice-makers in China to ensure the ice is maintained after the games. Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck. “As the pandemic started to hit, we started doing longer trips but less work, because we would do quarantining before and quarantining when we got back to Canada, so it created some challenges there, for sure,” said Mark.”Some of the trips we would have done, we didn’t do because of the restrictions. So we did more work over Zoom calls and technology calls.“We had some challenges, for sure. We did not have a lot of experience before the Games where we could learn. Usually, if you open a building, it takes you three or four or five years to really understand how everything works together.“There are the effects of the air, the effects of the humidity, the lights, the people that come in. There are many factors that affect the quality of the ice and we did not have a big opportunity to learn that because with the pandemic that’s going on we did not have the opportunity to have the test events.“We had some small test events, and we appreciated the people that came for those. We learned some small stuff, but most of the learning that we did we had to make as soon as the Olympic athletes came.”As well as making the fastest circuit possible, both men have been tasked with making the National Speed Skating Oval as environmentally friendly as they could. “The CO2 refrigeration that we are using here is very efficient, much more user-friendly as far as the environment (is concerned), and it’s definitely the way that things should be proceeding in the future,” said Mark.”The HFC (hydroflourocarbons) refrigerants that are used in many of the older buildings will be slowly phased out and this will be the way that it happens in the next few years.“We had to re-design a lot of the refrigeration so that we could incorporate the CO2 system into the building, which as I said before was a brilliant move. It’s been so successful having that system. “That was something that took a little bit longer to design, but was well worth the effort.“This technology is going to be used extensively moving forward. There’s a push to go to natural refrigeration, so C02, ammonia, are two of the main ones that of course we’ll get back to.”



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