When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, figure skating competitions with judges, spectators and media in arenas came to a halt. Organizers of these events had to figure out a way to keep the sport moving forward in a virtual environment. “We had to find out if we could continue competitions and exhibitions, so we worked with Skate Canada to develop ways to stage these events virtually,” explains Ted Barton, executive director of Skate Canada BC/YT.
Skaters could go into arenas and deliver their programs on camera which were then judged using online scoring systems. “What we learned is that we can use technology to deliver services remotely,” adds Barton. Taking that a step further, Barton’s team developed full broadcast facilities, complete with an on-air studio, at ScotiaBarn in Burnaby. The team can now take live video feeds from arenas around the world and package them with live commentary, judging and graphics to create professionally-produced skating programs for global audiences. In essence, technology has helped develop an international online production facility in Burnaby. “I don’t know where it will end up, but we have proven that we can broadcast our sport globally from a local facility. It took COVID to make us experiment to see what is possible.”
Barton concludes amateur sport organizations can’t solely rely on traditional television broadcasts to tell their stories. What used to be done with an expensive television truck with a satellite feed parked beside a rink can now be done with computers and online technology in an office inside an arena. “Streaming is pretty much done everywhere. We have a bigger tool chest now.”
Skaters debut new fall programs in Burnaby
More than 800 skaters from across the country travelled to ScotiaBarn August 18 to 21 to show their new programs for the upcoming competition season. The 2022 Belairdirect BC/YK Super Series Summer Skate was an opportunity for skaters at all levels to give judges a first look at what they’ve been working on over the summer. The event was staged with support from Sport Burnaby. More information about this event and skating in B.C. is available here.