Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
KEARNS — A big speedskating World Cup is being held at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns this weekend. It's the second to last cup of the season, and what's at stake is how many slots countries will earn for the Beijing Olympics.
Of course, Team USA wants as many slots as possible for each event.
It's not a guarantee we will get slots for each race — same for each country who is represented at the tournament.
For U.S. speedskaters, they're happy this World Cup is happening in Utah at such a crucial point of the season.
Most Cup races are in Europe.
"Having a home World Cup here in Salt Lake is so exciting," Brittany Bowe, a skater for U.S. Speedskating, said. "You can sleep in your own bed, and to be able to skate on the 'Fastest Ice on Earth' with our American fans in the stands, it will be really special."
Many world records have been set at the Utah Olympic Oval, thus the nickname of "Fastest Ice on Earth."
Bowe has competed in two Olympics, winning a bronze medal in a women's team pursuit race during the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Although she's a medal favorite heading into Beijing, she knows she still must do well during the upcoming U.S. Team Trials to earn a spot on the team.
This World Cup event helps her to prepare.
"I hope to really be able to perform well, as well as the rest of Team USA, to give the fans something to really cheer for this weekend," Bowe said.
Fans will be allowed inside the Utah Olympic Oval to watch the races.
"It's good to be back, and you can feel some of that Olympic spirit when you see athletes from other countries coming here to compete," Todd Porter, the general manager of the Utah Olympic Oval, said.
The facility was built for Salt Lake City's 2002 Games.
It has been used ever since for all sorts of big events, as well as local skate clubs and activities.
As Salt Lake City looks to bid for a future Olympics, having venues already built and operating is a big benefit.
"Oh, there's no doubt," Porter said. "We still use the facilities. A lot of places don't, but we still use them. We use them for our public programs and public activities, but we are still high-performance and use them for these international competitions."
The competition continues Saturday and Sunday at the Oval.