Calgary's speedskating oval, home of Canadian team, without ice until at least May,

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Calgary's Olympic Oval will be without ice until at least May because of a mechanical issue.

Canada's long-track speedskating team hasn't had ice there to train on since Sept. 5.

The oval on the University of Calgary campus was the speedskating venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Canadians have won 26 Olympic medals, including seven gold, in long-track speedskating since then.

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are just over a year away.

"The Olympic Oval experienced a critical mechanical failure impeding its ability to continue making ice," oval management said Wednesday in a statement.

"This incident was a repeat of failures that happened in 2018 and 2016. Replacing and upgrading the existing equipment was the only viable option.

"Our refrigeration and manufacturing partners have informed us that the earliest date we could expect delivery, installation, and to be operational is late May 2021."

The long-track team held a two-week camp in a covered oval in Fort St. John's B.C., in early November, but opted not to return.

The athletes have access to an outdoor oval in Red Deer, Alta., but world champion Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa has left the national team to seek indoor ice in Europe.

The oval, which is used by both elite and recreational athletes, is currently closed for four weeks because of provincial COVID-19 restrictions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press