Short track - A new era for the World championships in Montreal? ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


14 mars 2018

Short track - A new era for the World championships in Montreal?

Just like in 2014, 2018 will see Montreal hosting the ISU World short track championships just a few weeks after the Olympic games. Even though the attention brought by the Olympics would be enough to boost the ticket sales, this 2018 edition is important if Canada wants to catch up with Europe and get more people to attend short track speed skating events in the future.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Carl Savard and Martin Holtom

It’s on March 16 through 18 that the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal will be the theater of epic fights between elite short track speed skaters from all around the world. If you’ve discovered short track during the Pyeongchang olympic games, most of the same athletes will be at the World championships to entertain you and fight to become world champion on an individual distance or the overall ranking. Short track is exciting on television, but nothing beats the sensation of being there to witness history in the making. This time around, the Montreal organisation doesn't plan to rely only on the athletes to provide the entertainment. M. Claude Fauteux from PAVIM (Montreal’s International Speed Skating Organisation) promises surprises. “ There is a format that is starting to take form elsewhere in the world, especially in the Netherlands, when it comes to the presentation of major short track events. I attended the first two World cup events of the season in Budapest and Dordrecht and we are definitely importing the format at the Maurice-Richard Arena this year. The crowd can expect more entertainment. We will use a lighting system totally dedicated to the event, something that has never been done before here. There will also be a DJ. We are going all in to make sure the experience will be special for the fans. When you look at different international sporting events, like the X Games for exemple, organisations are making sure that the show and the ambiance is still maintained even when the athletes are not competing. We want to offer something that will fulfill all expectations.”

When we met a few weeks back, M. Fauteux was happy to tell me that the ticket sales were doing well and that 50% of the tickets had been sold. In the last two weeks, with the end of the Olympic games and the return of the Canadian athletes and their presence in the media, the event is now sold out. Even though Canada, Korea and China still form the historical Holy Trinity of short track, a lot more countries are now highly competitive in the sport. The rise of nations like the Netherlands and Hungary brought a better parity to the sport. “If you go back 8 or 10 years, Hungary wasn’t in the portrait at all and now they are a force and it's good for the sport.”

Claude Fauteux wasn't open to talk about numbers when it came time to discuss the operating budget of the event, but it is pretty clear by all the additions made to the old format that the organisation spared no expense to offer more than they did in the past. A major news was also the signing of an agreement with TVA Sports to present the competition live on television on Saturday and Sunday. “PAVIM was able to secure the TV rights for a french broadcasting of the World championships. It took a while and we had to work hard. We needed to get the ISU to understand that there are two markets in Canada. It was unacceptable for us that we were not able to present World championships or World cup events on a french channel. CBC holds the rights, but its french counterpart Radio-Canada didn't have the budget or was not ready to offer the air time necessary to present the competition. When the ISU understood the two markets reality, they granted us the french broadcasting rights while CBC still holds the national rights. Once we had the rights, we contacted RDS and TVA Sports to discuss the presentation of the event and TVA Sports was excited about the opportunity. It's a huge accomplishment for our organisation. This signing also helped us convince major sponsors to help us present the event.”

A package of good news delivered by an organisation that seems ready to put on a show. If the 2014 ISU World short track championships mainly relied on the athletes’ performances to offer excitement and emotions, Canada now seems ready to create a happening with the 2018 edition and walk on the path of what’s becoming the norm elsewhere. Those are praiseworthy intentions. Lets see if they deliver.  

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