Robert Dubreuil hung up his skates after the last long track speed skating World Cup presented in the Quebec region, in 1992, when it was so cold at the outer oval that “some European skaters had put newspaper under their uniform to keep out the cold,” he remembers.
Thirty-two years later, Dubreuil will welcome the best skaters in the world this weekend on a state-of-the-art ice ring in Quebec, and above all, in an indoor arena.
Dubreuil refuses to say that the presentation of this Long Track Speed Skating World Cup at the Intact Assurance Ice Center is the culmination of 32 years of efforts within the Quebec speed skating federation. But he recognizes that it will be a special weekend for him and his family.
“It will be one of my great experiences,” Dubreuil told The Canadian Press. If I look back on my humble career, the construction of the ice center is the most tangible element that will remain from my time as director of the federation. And this center allows the presentation of the World Cup. »
As in 1992, there will be a Dubreuil who will step on the ice this weekend. Laurent Dubreuil, who was a silver medalist at the Beijing Olympic Games, is Robert’s son, and this weekend he will try to take first place in the general classification in the 500 meters from the Japanese Wataru Morishige.
“For him, it’s the story of a life,” said Laurent Dubreuil, speaking of his father’s efforts to bring the long track elite back to Quebec. For me, it’s a good feeling to face the best in the world at home, to have the opportunity to promote our sport in the region, the province and the country.
“I will be focused on my races, but my father risks being emotional when he sees me skating,” he added.
Even though Robert Dubreuil has often attended his son’s competitions, he is especially happy to have the opportunity to see him skate in front of the rest of his family and friends at his home in Quebec.
“What warms my heart is to see that finally the second best long track skater that Quebec has known, after the Gaétan Boucher monument, will be able to participate in a competition at home after years at home. foreigner, said Dubreuil. And I would have had the same satisfaction if it wasn’t my son.
“Laurent spent so many months in Calgary, Europe and Asia. He will have been able to at least experience that, and also experience it when he is competitive,” he added.
A great show
Dubreuil noted that 150 volunteers are currently working to put the finishing touches on the presentation of the event, which will last from Friday to Sunday. Some have been on the job for several months.
“We are as excited as we are tired! “, he admitted.
Around 1,500 spectators are expected each day. Dubreuil hopes to impress the gallery when long track speed skating returns to Quebec.
“I hope they move air like there are 3,000 of them!” “, he exclaimed.
He hopes to take advantage of the facilities, including 40 projectors and three giant screens. In addition, a music group will be on site in addition to a DJ. A sugar shack has been installed to welcome spectators and he hopes that the athletes’ lounge will be to the taste of skaters from around the world.
“We can’t reinvent the wheel, but we try to give a little more than usual,” explained Dubreuil. We also consulted our athletes to find out what they like and what might appeal to European, Asian and American skaters.
“We want the athletes to appreciate what is offered in terms of transportation, hotels, training schedules,” he continued. I think our center is among the most beautiful in the world. It’s state-of-the-art, having been built in 2021. We want them to enjoy the place, but it’s all about attention to detail. »
The quality of the ice should also meet expectations, according to comments received after the presentation of the Canadian championships in 2022 and the four continents in 2023.