Olympic Oval

The Olympic Oval in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is North America's first covered speed skating oval; it was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics and opened 34 years ago on September 27, 1987.[2] Located on the University of Calgary campus, it is the official designated training centre for Speed Skating Canada and the Elite Athlete Pathway.

Olympic Oval
Location288 Collegiate Boulevard NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Coordinates51°04′37″N 114°08′10″W / 51.077°N 114.136°W / 51.077; -114.136 (Olympic Oval)Coordinates: 51°04′37″N 114°08′10″W / 51.077°N 114.136°W / 51.077; -114.136 (Olympic Oval)
OwnerUniversity of Calgary
OperatorUniversity of Calgary,
Faculty of Kinesiology
Capacity2,000 - permanent seating
4,000 w/ temporary seating[1]
Broke ground1985
OpenedSeptember 1987
Construction cost$38.9 Million
ArchitectGraham – McCourt
1. National Speed Skating Team (Speed Skating Canada)

2. Oval Elite Athlete Pathway

3. University of Calgary Varsity Athletics


The Olympic Oval was designed as the first covered speed skating oval in North America, and was the first at a Winter Olympics. The indoor facility offered the ability to control climate conditions to produce the highest quality ice.

Construction of The Oval began in 1985, nearly four years after Calgary had been designated host of the XV Olympic Winter Games. Like the Olympic Saddledome, most of the Oval's structure was built using precast, prestressed concrete. Twenty eight beams were laid along the outside of the perimeter of the building to support 84 additional beams used to construct a lattice frame for the arched roof. The interior scaffolding used to hoist these 84 beams had to be lowered a centimetre at a time in a predetermined sequence in order to distribute the load of the roof equally to each of the 28 exterior support beams. Construction was completed by the end of the summer of 1987, officially opening in September 1987, five months before the Olympics.

The torch outside the Olympic Oval in 2017.

It was during the speed skating events of the Olympic Winter Games in 1988 that The Oval became known as "The Fastest Ice in the World™," as world records were set in seven events (Men's 500 m, 1500 m, 10,000 m, and Women's 500 m, 1000 m, 3000 m, 5000 m), and Olympic records were set in the other three events (Men's 1500 m, 5000 m, and Women's 1500 m). The combination of the climate-controlled facility and the effects of high altitude have been credited for the fast ice surface. [3]

In 1991, the Oval hosted Speed Skating for the 1991 Winter Deaflympics held in Banff.

Throughout the last 32 years, over 300 world records have been set at the Oval. By 2019, the Olympic Oval has produced (as a world class training facility) 32 Canadian Olympic medalists, including Ted-Jan Bloemen, who won a silver in the men's 5000m and a gold in the men's 10,000m at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in 2018.

Training facilityEdit

Along with the 400m long-track ice, the Olympic Oval also includes two international-sized ice rinks for short track speed skating and ice hockey, a 450m running track surrounding the main oval, and an eight-lane 110m sprint track for year-round athletics training. At present, hundreds of Canadian athletes are training at the Oval year round.[4]

Saskatoon-native Catriona Le May Doan, who won the gold medal in speed skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics and in the 2002 Winter Olympics began training at the Oval soon after its construction.[4]

Aerial shot of the Olympic Oval

The Oval continues to be regarded as a premier speed skating venue, and a preferred training facility for speed skating teams across the globe.

Other activitiesEdit

When not hosting hockey games and speed skating competitions, the Olympic Oval is Calgary's premier public skating facility and during the ice-out months of April and May - the Oval plays host to major spring events including the Judo and Taekwondo Canadian National Championships as well as major volleyball, gymnastics, floor hockey, running, and billiards events. In addition, the Oval hosts major car shows, science fairs, expos, robotics shows, science and engineering events, major film and television shoots, fundraisers, the RBC training ground and University of Calgary events.


  1. ^ Calgary Olympic Oval Self Guided Tour: Panel 4 – The Building, Ice Speed Skating Ovals and Clubs in Canada
  2. ^ 1988 Winter Olympics official report. Part 1. pp. 144-51.
  3. ^ "Building on the Olympic Legacy". Calgary Herald. February 9, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Ferguson, Eva (February 18, 2013). "Calgary celebrates legacy of 1988 Winter Olympics". Calgary Herald. Retrieved November 27, 2018.

External linksEdit