Bay track eyed by Aussies

19:17, Feb 13 2014
timaru skating australia jon evans andy finster peter garriga
ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR: Skate Victoria speedskating branch chairman Jon Evans, left, is proposing the Australian Bank Track Championships be held in Timaru rather than on home soil. With Evans are Victorian coach Andy Finster, centre, and manager Peter Garriga.

The Australian national anthem could be ringing out across Caroline Bay in the most unusual circumstances.

The South Canterbury Speed Skating Club is in line to pull off a sporting coup by attracting the Australian Bank Track Championships to Timaru.

The Herald understands it would be the first time any full Australian sports championships would have been held on New Zealand soil.

Skate Victoria speed branch chairman Jon Evans believes Timaru's new track on Caroline Bay would be the ideal venue and he hopes to persuade his state counterparts it is a good idea.

"It's just fantastic here and everything we have got at home is outdated. This is a true world-class facility."

Evans said crossing the Tasman these days was no more difficult than flying interstate and coming to Timaru would have real benefits.


"If we get organised the costs would be no big deal and I think it would have plenty of appeal."

The chairman will have some pull as Victoria has easily the biggest base for speedskating. Evans said he would target every second year, alternating with the New Zealand Bank Track Championships, which his 12-strong Victorian team had come over for.

"Timaru is also easy to get round and we have been made very welcome. We have been given the keys to the track, which wouldn't happen everywhere we go."

The facilities and environment were perfect, he said. Australian skaters as they could build in a holiday around the event.

"We would target a time around the Tour of Timaru, so there was plenty of skating."

Up to 50 Australian skaters could make the trip with their support crews and family. Evans said there would be no problem with Kiwis joining in.

The Victorian team arrived in Timaru on Sunday, building up to this weekend's championship. Several of the team and management have been to Timaru three times since the track was opened.

Timaru's international coach Bill Begg, an influential member of the group that got the track built, said the community and local trusts' support of the facility had been proven as "a masterstroke for the region".

"To host an Australian championships would be superb."

Begg said many overseas skaters had spent time training and racing in Timaru including Germans, Slovakians, Singaporeans, French, Indonesia, Swiss, Chinese and Indians, who had all benefited from the world-class track.

Begg's own standing as a top international coach and his world-wide contacts have helped.

"We would still like to host a world championships in Timaru in the future so hosting an Australian championships will show we are the place to come in the southern hemisphere."

The Timaru Herald