The Thialf ice arena in Heerenveen has had its centre of excellence status extended by the ISU ©Getty Images

The Thialf ice arena in Heerenveen has had its status as an International Skating Union (ISU) centre of excellence extended for another fourth years.

It had held the label since 2019, and the Royal Dutch Skating Association (KNSB) is set to head up the centre of excellence during the next window.

KNSB technical director Remy de Wit expressed his hope that the award can help to further advance speed skating and short track speed skating globally.

"As one of the big National Federations we want to contribute to the development of our sport in general," de Wit said.

"The Netherlands is a big nation in speed skating and in short track too, and we feel it has a responsibility to help and develop the sport internationally."

He insisted that the "main purpose is to facilitate skaters from around the world with the best possible training accommodation".

The KNSB is set to work with a number of regional bodies and the Thialf arena on the centre of excellence’s programme.

De Wit expanded on some of the opportunities set to be offered at Thialf under the plans.

"In long track we can offer training groups at many different levels," he commented.

"There are skaters at world level, Dutch national level and regional level, which means that any skater from another country will be able to join a training group that fits.

"We can offer tailor-made programmes."

Alternative plans for short track to integrate international skaters include the establishment of five training camps.

The centre of excellence is also due to work with Amsterdam's artificial skating track Jaap Eden-baan, with de Wit describing it as "the perfect place for short track camps".

Thialf is one of 11 ice rinks in the world awarded the ISU's centre of excellence status.

It has a capacity of 12,500, and has previously held ISU allround, spring and single-distance speed skating World Championship events.

The arena is also a regular stop on the ISU Speed Skating World Cup circuit.

The Netherlands has dominated speed skating events at recent editions of the Winter Olympics, taking six of the available 14 gold medals at Beijing 2022.

Dutch athletes also picked up two golds in short track in the Chinese capital.