MARQUETTE, Mich.— Shortly, more than 200 of the world’s best short track speedskaters from 34 nations return to Marquette to compete in the final International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup before the Olympic Winter Games. The action takes place Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 12-15, at Northern Michigan University’s Berry Events Center. Saturday and Sunday’s races will be nationally and internationally televised. Versus, a sports cable network reaching more than 73 million households, has just announced it will tape Saturday and Sunday’s competition for use in a pair of two-hour highlight shows to be aired at 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday and 10 p.m. Sunday, with rebroadcasts at 1 a.m. Sunday and Monday. Saturday and Sunday are also being televised live in China and Korea. “We are extremely pleased to have Versus provide coverage to the Olympic, speedskating and sports fans across America, as well as to have broadcasts going live to China and Korea,” said Jeff Kleinschmidt, director of the USOEC. “It’s another chance for NMU and the community to demonstrate to a national and international television audience how exciting we make sports events here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – like we did when we packed the Superior Dome for the national broadcast of the NMU-Michigan Tech football game last year. Only this time we’ll be packing the Berry and the audience will be global.” The 2003 World Cup held at the Berry Events Center had soldout crowds. The arena has also been the site of the 2005 and 2009 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the latter held this past September. “There are athletes who still talk about the 2003 World Cup held in Marquette as one of the wildest, loudest, most exciting competitions of their careers – nearly rivaling the Olympic Games. The Berry was just rocking with atmosphere, which really drove the skaters. In fact, two world records were set,” Kleinschmidt said. This year’s World Cup is the final event for nations to qualify skaters for February’s Olympic Games in Vancouver, making it one of the most important and biggest competitions of 2009. “We will have more skaters and more nations here than will be competing in the Games. Most skaters have to earn their chance to skate in Vancouver right here in Marquette. There are only so many slots available at each race distance for the Olympic Games and skaters get those slots by their performances in the four World Cup competitions leading up to the Games,” said Kleinschmidt. Because of the large size of the competition field, the ISU has reorganized the event’s schedule, significantly expanding the first two days of racing. Thursday’s action will begin around 11:45 a.m. and Friday’s around noon, with the expectation that both nights will conclude between 8:30 and 9 p.m. “There are so many skaters that to accommodate all the needed preliminary heats we’ll have to start at midday on Thursday and Friday,” said Kleinschmidt. “Spectators who have purchased tickets will want to note that the 6 p.m. start time originally printed on the tickets no longer applies. However, those fans unable to get to the arena until evening will still have several hours of action-packed races.” Ticket holders can leave and re-enter the Berry Events Center throughout the day, as long as they have their ticket stub for each re-entry. Saturday’s action is scheduled from 12:20-6 p.m. and Sunday’s from 12:30-6:30 p.m., including the awards ceremony. All times are subject to change, depending on the number of races required to accommodate the final competition field. The deadline for nations to register is Thursday, Nov. 5. The field currently includes skaters from the following nations: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States. For more information, go to www.goldrushskate.com. To order tickets, go to www.nmu.edu/tickets, call 906-227-1032 or visit any NMU EZ ticket outlet.