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      Short track speedskating suspended at USOEC

      It's a case of good news, bad news as the United States Olympic Education Center on Northern Michigan University's campus continues to change.

      USA Weightlifting has announced continuation of a residential program, but U.S. Speedskating is suspending its program for the upcoming year.

      Weightlifting has been a sport at the USOEC since 2003. New coach Vance Newgard has 14 men and 7 women training at NMU, with former USOEC weightlifter Sarah Robles recently placing seventh at the London Olympic Games in the 75+ weight class.

      The long- and short-track speedskating training programs were both on the NMU campus prior to the USOEC becoming an official Olympic Training Center in 1985. Last year's USOEC short-track team had 13 members. Long-track at NMU was discontinued in 1987. Since the USOEC opened, 38 Olympians have trained with the programs at NMU.

      USOEC officials said suspension of the residential speed skating program was the result of changes in facility equipment requirements for the elite skaters, as well as significant funding model changes for national governing bodies, U.S. Olympic training centers, and state and federal support for Olympic development training.

      A new padding system, required by international speed skating, would have meant renovations to the Berry Event Center that would be cost prohibitive and impractical.

      According to USOEC Interim Director Brian Gaudreau, if a new speedskating program is brought to NMU, it would most likely be designed to be a training program for coaches rather than a competitive team due to the new facility requirements.

      In the past, the Northern Michigan University's Berry Events Center was the site of two World Cup competitions, one in 2003 and the other in 2009, as well as the U.S. Short-Track Olympic Team Trials for the 2006 Turin, Italy and 2010 Vancouver, Canada Olympic Games.